Friday, November 28, 2008

On my Soapbox

I went out last week to catch up with some past and present workmates. We were getting together to toast someone leaving work. She had decided after her second child, not to come back to work. That statement seems like such a luxury in this day and age. But that's not what I'm here to write about.

During our chat, someone brought up Christine Nixon's retirement. I said how sad I was, as I thought she had been a star. Any woman who rises to the top in a male dominated profession, wants to sort out corruption and take on the 'boys club', while still maintaining her grace is an inspiration. Someone else had a differing opinion, and that's fine by me. However - the guest of honour (who's husband is a cop) said 'we're not political people, so I don't really know'.

Deep breath. Not political people. Ok. You know when I hear sentences like that I think it's like admitting you're either self-centered or stupid. That may sound harsh but the thing is, the guest of honour is political about other things. She's into animal conservation and from memory sponsors a child in the third world. What I don't understand is - how can you have 2 kids and not think about what's going on in the world you've brought them into? Your local world.

I've just finished reading Mark Watson's book 'Crap at the Environment'. It was fabulous. It has made me realise what I am doing, and what I can do, to hopefully slow down or even stop this world from hurtling to hell in an overheated, underwater handbasket. The thought of everyone doing something, no matter how small, contributing to the whole of the greater good filled me with hope. And as mentioned previously a few posts ago - Hope is a great thing.

He mentioned towards the end of the book, in response to the Global Warming naysayers, that living your life in a more ethical way won't harm anyone. In the best case scenario it may save the planet, but if you don't believe, then don't worry your pretty little head about such things as the end of life as we know it.

It sends a shiver down my spine that people don't want to be 'political', or can't be bothered to get out of their 4 wheel drives/ipods/computers/TVs/ebay/shopping malls etc. long enough to think about someone other than themselves. There's such an attitude of 'as long as I'm alright', everything's OK. Well guess what. It's not. We have somehow become people more interested in ourselves individually than interested in how we fit into the bigger picture.

You know, I'm no saint. I too, suffer from the lure of bright shiny new things. And I shudder to think of the carbon footprint of my Christmas decorations. But at this time of year I begin to think about those less fortunate. My boyfriend rides his bike to work past the moonee ponds creek. There are homeless people who have set up tents to live in. He's also seen many discarded plastic bags used by chromers. There are some people out there having a really hard time of it. And every year at Christmas I seem to feel it more and more. Luckily my family decided a few years ago that we all had enough stuff and christmas is about the nieces and nephews. So, we are trying to spend the money we would have bought prezzies for the adults with, on things that we care about - and will hopefully make a difference to someone else's life. No matter how small. Every contribution makes a difference to someone.

I want to feel connected to people. I want to be aware of what's going on in the world. I want to leave this world better than I found it. I want to care. Being part of a community of like minded people is an amazing feeling. Perhaps by getting connected with people and living in an ethical way we will fill that hole in ourselves that many of us are trying to fill by buying things. It's a great feeling finding joy in simple things. Is this political? I don't know. But you know what? It makes me think of that old saying ' it takes a community to raise a child'. I just wonder if our guest of honour has ever taken the time to think of this?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Here's ME...ta-da!

I'm shocked at how long it's been since my last post. I really wanted to try to keep up with doing this weekly. Oh well - so much for good intentions.

I've been trying to think of what I want to talk about. I was actually inspired by a post on Nej's blog regarding Gen Y and rash over-generalisations. I was thinking how much of themselves Gen Ys put out there into the cyber world. When I set up this blog I cringed at the thought of putting my photo up. And then I began to question myself about that decision. There is something comforting about the protection that the online world offers. What I mean, is that even though you put your thoughts 'out there', you can remain anonymous. But I really like connecting with other people. I hate false, shallow relationships.

So what am I scared of? I was thinking about a story my Mum told me. We were one of those families who camped every summer by the beach. Apparently when I was about 18 months old, Mum had me down near the waters edge. People she knew came to say hello and catch up with how their year had been. In turn, they tried to also say hello to me too - all blonde curls and chubby cheeks. I, so family legend has it, threw my head down into the sand, simply terrified of these strangers. And so the ostrich gags began.

Shyness has always been part of me. I found certain things in school excruciating. I always sat towards the front over to one side of the classroom, growing my fringe long to hide behind. My heart would pound at the announcement that someone would need to read a chapter out loud. 'Don't pick me, Don't pick me', would rotate around my head as I slowly slunk down a little more in my chair. I had good friends, and could clown around happily with them. But as soon as something I was doing became more public, I would freeze.

The good thing about getting older, is that you learn to have a bit more confidence in yourself (if you're lucky!). In my mid twenties I broke up with my boyfriend who I'd been with since I was 15. I moved out on my own - alone for the first time in my life. And I began to figure out who I was....really was. The 18 months I was single were quite a time for me. I found how to be happy being 'me'. I ended up with a new job, that believe it or not meant that I had to give tours and help with classes in the library. The shy kid inside was still there - heart pounding - but able to face the terrifying fear of speaking in public. I realised that I was more terrified of being crap, than I was of speaking. I try to think about people who I have found inspiring or engaging. But some days the internal struggle between shyness and confidence is still there.

Perhaps it's an innate fear of being judged. I don't know. But one thing I've figured out is that no one is more critical of me....than me. Am I, in a way, my own worst enemy? Perhaps. Maybe it's a Gen X thing - hating yourself - or maybe it's part of having XX chromosomes? I know so many women who dislike themselves. But as the years tick by I hope that I will get over this too. It seems silly and self indulgent, and even though I can intellectualise those thoughts, I still have my moments when I don't honestly, deep down, think that I'm good enough. And now that I've written this - I want to kick my own arse!

So - in my first step towards combating that, I've decided to load my picture on this blog. I took this photo myself and maybe the reason I like it is that this is who I see when I look in the mirror. So - here I am. Andy. Nice to meet you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Politics-a-go-go

What a huge week it was last week. It seemed the whole world was on the edge of its seat awaiting the outcome of the U.S. election. But the office politics of my workplace was also in overdrive. Do you ever wonder why some people like making life into a circus? And even more disappointingly - there are those who don't understand that the political IS personal.

Yes - a colleague and I tried to address the behaviour of a Manager recently. It wasn't what she said, but rather, how she was saying it. Her response - 'it's nothing personal!'. Actually, I beg to differ. Issues can be worked through, procedures and policies written, but some people missed that age old lesson about catching more flies with honey, than with vinegar. I believe some people don't look at themselves objectively. How would they like to be treated? It's really not that hard....unless perhaps you've forgotten how to interact with other humans.

It seemed an interesting time to compare the extremely local political climate, with what was happening on the world stage. In this very dark time for the world (and America particularly) a vote for Change, for Hope, for Caring, for Connecting with other people, won the day. So many people I know were inspired by Obama's victory speech. He pointed out that it wasn't about him - it was about everyone who voted and cared enough to say they wanted things to be different. Sure - times ahead will be tough, but perhaps they are finally on the right path. Bush, like our own John Howard had won elections by preaching fear and loathing. Be scared and hate those who don't look like you. Be afraid - and vote conservatively. But Obama's campaign was all about hope.

Now, I think of myself as an optimist. Those who know me, may laugh. I also see myself as a realist, to quote Daria (defending that everyone saw her as a pessimist!). I have a nice healthy dose of cynicism with my optimism. But even watching Obama from Australia - I felt hopeful for the future. And such is the power of hope. There are people who inspire and enable. And there are those so hell bent on hanging on to their little piece of power, that they must crush any obstacle - including lowly staff.

I can only hope that the climate of Change and Hope rubs off.