What Are You Going To Be When You Grow Up?

My five year old asked me that just the other day. Without prompting of any kind.

I looked at him, quite seriously, and said, “A Writer.”

I said, “What about you?”

He said, “A Pokemon collector.”

Now you might not see this as a great career option, but let’s face it, there are people who do this kind of stuff professionally. As parents, we don’t think this way. We try to steer them logically to a more security – driven profession, or even worse we might tell our five year old that his dreams are not realistic.

But you don’t see what I see.

I see this kid in the playground, the centre of attention as he splays his cards for the crowd to check out. He is in top form as he laughs, calls out the names of the cards and declares whether they are good or bad. He enjoys the spotlight and ensures, in someway that it is on him.

He also climbs like a monkey, is street wise in a way I can’t put into examples and shakes off getting into trouble like water off a ducks back. He does his own thing. He can’t sit still and he is sweet and funny and mischievous.

My older son, also loves Pokemon but he loves the methodical nature of collecting the cards, storing the information, and doing this utterly fascinating (and sometimes tedious) thing where he can recite all of that information back to me by rote. Even before he learned to read he had all the (thousands) of skylander names and their powers stored in that amazing brain of his.

Julian is social, kind and dreamy but he likes order and doesn’t like getting into trouble. He conforms which is a good thing and a bad thing.

These are gifts shining with in them. They are not obvious like that of natural athletes of mathematical genius’s but they are just as important to recognise.

These gifts, these pursuits, interests, passions can become the joy of our lives and who are we, as parents, to tell them that they are not warranted, not important, not something to spend time on?

Now I am not saying that I haven’t banned them numerous times or that they should be allowed to just ignore everything else and do just what they enjoy, but I think we need to be more aware of their joys.

We, as a society, as a culture, as a human race, are naturally inclined to compare what we have to what others have.

What we need to teach them, what we need them to know and understand as they grow up is that comparison is futile.

There will always be someone prettier, funnier, more intelligent, more together. BUT they don’t have what they have. The ultimate uniqueness of being themselves.

Sometimes its hard to put into words why you admire others but as I get older, as I learn more, I’ve realised that the people I admire most are being the most authentically themselves. Because they embrace themselves and are at home in their own body – the Universe conspires to give them it’s abundance.

You want to be around them. They are attractive. They live a life they love. They are doing what they are doing for the pleasure and passion of it, and in turn, giving service of some kind to others through this awareness of their gift.

That is the kind of children we should be raising.

But at present, we seem to be more concerned with the fact that we might miss our children being next Tiger Woods, than encouraging them to be the best Harry, Johnny, Isabel they can be.

Our children do so many multiple sports, music, swimming, extra school lessons that they don’t often get time to work out what they like and who they are. They barely get play dates because there literally is no unscheduled time for some kids.

We might be covering up their gift of writing poetry because they are at basketball practice and have no time to be dreamy.

The ancient Indian text, The Bhagavad Gita states, “The Gift is indestructable. It is a seed. We are not required to be God. We are not required to create the seed. Only to plant it wisely and well.”

As parents, what we don’t want to do, is help our kids cover that seed with so much dirt that it may never see the light.

And we don’t want to do that to our own gifts, our own passions and dreams either.

Don’t you find it amazing that there is such an incredible range of interest, talent and diversity in people’s career choices? Some are naturally inclined to science, some medicine, some administration and some the arts…and so the world turns.

There is a reason for this and the Bhagavad Gita calls it Dharma. Your purpose. It is like you have been programmed with the gift that the world needs and your life’s journey is to figure out what it is and give it to the world.

Dharma is born mysteriously out of the intersection between The Gift and The Times. Dharma is a response to the urgent, though often hidden need of the moment.

An example is that maybe activism and woman’s rights have always held an interest for you. Maybe you work in politics or for a charity and then Trump gets elected and you find yourself, with your gifts, in the perfect space for connecting woman together to rise up and challenge inequality and injustice. This is the intersection between your Gift and The Times and your purpose unfolds.

I love this quote from Dolly Parton, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose”

Do it on purpose. Be more you. Be more authentic. Stop doing what you ought to do, what you have been told you should be doing, what your friends are doing and do what you want.

This quote from Robert Frost describes how I felt after I uncovered my seed. The seed that was so buried it took the tragedy of death to dig it out.

“They would not find me changed from him they knew – Only more sure of all I thought was true.”

We must stop encouraging our children to look elsewhere for happiness. We must stop the busyness and start listening to their thoughts and dreams and only provide encouragement. They will find out in life if they need security, a steady job, to have a year off, to live extravagantly or simply. They will make their own mistakes regardless of how much cotton wool we wrap them in.

The biggest mistake of all however, is ours if we bury that seed before it even gets a chance to bloom.

The tree of life has many branches, many different ways to climb but you must choose the one that resonates most with you and often, its the road less travelled, the one that is scary, lonely and risky and that’s why the path is so hard to take.

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Image credit: www.saintpour.com.au

 

 

Bigger Than Us

“It’s no good going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” Alice in Wonderland.

A new year, a new direction.

I feel like I am coming out of my Mummy bubble and into the real world.

Maybe a little known fact about me is that I have a Social Science degree.

I once majored in politics and history and spent my working hours summarizing the news for companies and headed up the political division of the media reporting agency in our WA elections.

Perhaps it was burn out or an incessant dislike for how the news was reported, re-ported, and re-run over, but I chose roughly ten years ago to stop watching.

We are in control of how we choose to feel in any given moment and I didn’t want to follow news stories that just incite fear without an anti-dote (I mean, can we help? Who is doing something about this? Why is this happening? What is the follow-up).

But, I have since realised, that we can’t close our hearts, minds and souls to information. What we can’t do is ignore what is happening in our world, our country, our city or community.

I was extremely naive to think or want to think, that human rights violations stopped with Hitler. That terrorism was the great evil of the 21st Century.

It is easy to be that ignorant when we tailor our own news feeds and views of the world.

But some things can just shock us out of our complacency.

After Trump won the election people cried, thinking that this reflected an America  that was filled with more hate, racism and fear, than love and hope.

How?

How did an educated, westernized country make this choice?

And the real question – what information am I missing that would skew the results so resoundingly in Trump’s favour?

My husband pointed out to me that people distrusted Clinton. That people were not necessarily voting for these things that Trump represents, but against things they had heard about Clinton, like her alleged involvement in arming terrorists.

Completely unaware of these things I did some research. Then some more.

As I started to research and gain an understanding of the politics behind the decision, I realised that the world is so much bigger than me and that knowledge and education beyond my own bubble, is sorely needed in my life.

Maybe this sounds like something that would bore you to tears but researching this was fascinating. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, there was just more and more craziness and it was almost like fiction.

And it made me wonder…..

Do you want to know more? Do you want to know what is out there in the world? If someone was talking about Syria – would you like to be informed enough to contribute to the conversation?

As Mummy’s we talk about schooling and teachers and our children endlessly but Í think some of you might want to talk about bigger issues than this? Yes? Go deeper?

So I thought and thought about where to go with this?

If I could summarise, succinctly, into a blog post  – issues that are important, making them as relevant and timely as I can – would you read it?

Would we get past obsessing over the size of our asses, how perfect our parenting needs to be or about the material goods we don’t have, if we were consciously focused on issues of a larger nature?

If we could stimulate our compassion, tickle our intellects awake and educate our consciousness – would we be better people?

Do you ever think about others? Do you have questions about world issues but are too embarrassed to admit you don’t know what references mean?

“We don’t want another Rwanda.”

“People don’t trust Hilary because of those email leaks.”

I do and yes, I don’t know what Rwanda means.

But I want to find out.

We as educated people, have a responsibility to find out what is happening to other humans on our planet. They are sharing our earth and we can’t ignore, forget or deliberately not know.

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I’m going to ask you to share my posts. I am going to ask you to talk about them. I am going to ask you to ask me questions. Send me emails. Tell me. Let me know.

What else do you want to know about? What should I research and write about?

How can we cultivate our compassion, knowledge and empathy whilst increasing the joy and appreciation for our own lives?

Being of service, caring about others and taking action will make a difference to how you feel. It will give your life new meaning.

Let’s get started.

 

Feminism 101 : Our Silence is Too Loud

Across America, London, Melbourne and other international locations last week, there were coordinated marches for equality, women’s rights and a retaliation over the results of the American election.

Our silence has become too loud. Our inaction has caused a severe reaction. And now we must stand up.

So these issues have been on my mind and I am sure yours. I wanted to speak out, write something, but I thought:

Who am I to talk about racial relations in my white privilege?

Who am I to talk about the down-trodden female in my University-educated, bourgeois existence?

Who am I to talk about freedom when I don’t understand the hardships in countries not as lucky as mine?

Who am I to talk about choice and rights in an era where I take voting for granted, have a smorgasbord of career and education available to me and in a time where my body is my own?

Who am I to talk about how things should be when I have always known a semblance of equality? Where there is no longer “the man of the house” mentality and it is perfectly acceptable for me to leave my children at home and work?

Who am I, as an accepted immigrant of this country, to talk about other immigrants and how they should be treated?

Who am I to talk about any of this stuff when I am not an expert? When some of these statements may feel wrong to you? May contain information that is not well-researched, referenced and mapped out?

Who am I to talk when I just don’t know everything about these subjects?

But who am I not to? 

Our silence, our head in the sand approach to these issues, is over.

Who am I, in my white privilege, not to talk about racial relations and help bring about a change in the world that makes people understand that we are all human, we are all deserving and we are all the damn same.

As much as people like to separate people, we aren’t able to be separated. Our bodies are cleverly designed to adapt to the environment we live in. Instead of standing in awe and appreciation at how humans can be so diversely beautiful, we segregate and differentiate until some people forget that we are all the same.

We all love and want to be loved. We all hurt just the same. We are all born and we all die.

Who am I, experiencing the joy of femininity, not to help others feel the same way? Do I just close my eyes to pay inequality for those to whom it matters the most? Forget about promotions we miss because of our gender, because of our pre-disposition to giving birth, of putting ambitions on hold for loved ones. Short-sighted companies believing that there is only one way to do things. Maybe it’s not the glass ceilings stopping females to reach positions of power but our unwillingness to play the game the way that it is being played. We are opting out of playing, instead of fighting to change the rules.

America is obviously tired of the game of politics and instead selected a non-conformist, a wild card, someone who is not playing properly.

It is a fertile time to shake-up the status quo and a wake-up call.

If I use a blanket statement and say that men are ruling the world – do we like the way it is being run? Wars and Terrorism are escalating, crime is increasing, economies failing. Men have traditionally taken the protector role but it is time for us to stand up and protect ourselves. Is it time for us to change the way politics is run? The way business is run? The way conflicts are resolved?

Who am I to talk about Freedom in the lucky country? I am not being bombed. I am not in a position where society will cast me out if I am sexually abused. I am not in fear of my Government.But…..as grateful as I am for where and the way I live – as a female, I do not feel safe. I cannot walk the streets at night like a man does. I hurry to my parked car. I use a buddy system on a night out with the girls. I cannot sleep alone at night without questioning my safety. Males contribute three times more crime than females. In my fear-driven scenarios, it is not a woman that is scaring me.

So its unfortunate,but I am not truly free and I do experience the inequality of being female. Change is needed. My voice is valid. I am silencing my doubts by writing this piece.

Countries are shouting out for more nurturing, people are hurting and when they are hurt they want to retaliate. We don’t need to take over from men, we need to work with them in partnership to bring balance to the way our world is working. At the moment you don’t see a lot of feminine characteristics in the power roles that women occupy. From power suits to the long hours and tough attitudes, I see the way powerful women have conformed themselves to play in the male-dominated arena.

But we are pushing back.

Oprah Winfrey, in her earlier career, was all about that suit and would put on guests and themes of shows she didn’t agree with, but as her sense of power within herself grew she got herself a voice, and a company, and started doing things her own way. She threw out the structure – of her wardrobe, the format of her show and the way she thought things needed to be for success.

Arianna Huffington just wrote a book on sleep. She tried things to do things the accepted way – working every hour she could just to keep up and surviving on four hours sleep. Until she couldn’t do it any longer and changed the way she did things to reflect who she really wanted to be – and the success still flowed.

This photo of Hilary Clinton in the 1990’s shows clearly her change in style so that she would be taken seriously. Were the people of American not ready for their first lady President or uncomfortable with the fact that there would be a “First Gentleman” for the first time in history?

And now lets talk about that arena.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena…”

And let’s believe when he says man, he also means woman.

We cannot complain, belittle, judge or cut down those who have gone before us. Those who have taken what they have been given and worked with it, doing the best they could with the knowledge that they had. If we are not prepared to get in the arena then we should be silenced. We cannot stand by and let the world revolve around us, solely focusing on our own selves, our own lives.

We need to be the change.

Starting small we need to cut out our judgement of other women because it is keeping our entire gender small. We are too scared to act out, to speak out, to write….for fear of being judged. Social media is becoming a glaring example of how women are getting it wrong.

So I am definitely not saying that women are the white knights set to ride in and take over the world.

We are not ready.

We are too busy taking selfies to commit to service.

Concerned about our diets and not the dying.

Our culture pushing us towards materialism and not activism. 

But there are some who are ready and they will teach us. But we need to listen. We need to start thinking about something other than ourselves.

But ultimately we need to believe that we are worthy. That we are enough. That we don’t need to be experts to be heard. Because there are centuries of cultural education telling us woman have little value in anything other than keeping the house and the kids clean. I like to imagine us cleaning house in another way…like at the White House.

We will move forward into an era in which women will start lifting each other up. Supporting each other. Where kindness extends not only to our friends and family but to strangers, other human beings who need our support.

Just as there is no great divide between race, there is no divide between men and women. Once again we are the same and should be in awe of our creator for the differences in our natures that is intended to compliment and spread love throughout the world.

Let us stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.

Let us do these things with love.

Let us rise.

LOVE