Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A post about Juliette Low, JLS and International Guiding Thoughts

I knew that a Guiding International Event I wanted to apply for was online, so I logged onto the site today and got really distracted by the Juliette Low Seminar being held at Sangam next year. I only knew of Juliette Low in relation to the seminars, known as the JLS within WAGGGS, so I decided to do some research.

YouTube had a fantastic series which runs for about half an hour on the life and times of Juliette Low, half of which is about her life as a Guide. Juliette was known as Daisy, grew up in America and married a wealthy British man. She moved to England with him and enjoyed life as a socialite, also dabbling in various forms of Art. Daisy was known her her antics, and several of her friends share the store of Daisy's midnight invitations to go fishing. Daisy has lost the majority of her hearing when she was first married, and used this to her advantage, having slective hearing when she heard a 'no'.

Daisy and her husband separated 15 years later, but he died just before their divorce was finalised, leaving her with an allowance to be distributed by his mistress. Daisy and her lawyer sued againist this, and she was eventually given a more suitable inheritance, including a house back in Savannah. It was around this time Daisy became friends with Robert Baden-Powell (known in our Movement as Lord Baden-Powell or BP), who introduced her to the Girl Guides. After setting up her own company in Scotland, Daisy then travelled home to America and began the Girl Scouting Movement in her home country. Initally the girls were known as Girl Guides, but, as our Girls tend to do, they requested they be known as a name they created for themselves, the Girl Scouts. Daisy began the Girl-led process of Guiding that we know today. Daisy had a knack of using her connections to help make things happen and regularly recruited her friends and acquaintances into helping the Movement.

Daisy was never one for rules and often said and did as she pleased. She dabbled in many different areas and often had something on the go. In her Handbook for the Girl Scouts, Daisy encouraged the girls to develop themselves in two skill sets, so if one career path didn't work out, they could easily attempt another. As a progessive woman, her suggestions included working as a translator, an architect or in the aviation field - very unheard of during this time! Her family and friends were astounded to think she was keen on working with Girl Guides as she had never shown interest in working with girls... or obeying rules!

Daisy wrote the handbook and paid for the running of Girl Scouts for a long time, until she was urged by her family to incorporate the organisation and fundraise. It was at this stage that she asked the First Lady, Mrs Edith B. Wilson, to become the first Honorary National President of the Girl Guides, which is a tradition which has carried on to this day. Daisy suffered from breast cancer, which was something she went through in secret. She continued to make her Trans-Atlantic trips, during her last trip, on board a cruise ship she dressed as a ghost with empty bottled around her waist and neck. She called herself  'Departed Spirits'. Daisy passed away at the age of 66 in 1927. She is considered the Founder of the Girl Scout Movement, and her birthday (31 October - Halloween) is celebrated as Founders Day in America.

First of wall, what an incredible story! As a free spirit myself, I really relate to Daisy's life and her motivation to keep going. Daisy is famed to have organised the first International Camp, and it only seems fitting that the seminar is based around the cencept of leadership.

During since 1932, JLS is one of the most well known and sought after seminars of its kind. Each country can send one delegate, in Australia that can be someone from 20-30 years old. As the event is held triannually, this is my only chance to apply. Regardless of whether I'm accepted, I feel like I have learnt a lot more about the Movement tonight ad it's given me the boost I've needed since I got back from my trip to Rarotonga.

I still haven't blogged about my trip because there's a lot to say, and not enough all at the same time. I really appreciated the opportunity and enjoyed spending time with other like-minded girls, but it was also not really what I expected either. I had a wonderful time, and it wasn't that I was under prepared, I just felt we could have done the same amount of things in a shorter time frame.

One thing I'd like to put out there is costing of these trips. This year I have been away twice for Guides, and that would be impossible for me without the support and funding from my own member organisation (Girl Guides Australia), my State Organisation (Lady Swift Travel Fund) WAGGGS and the Amy Bush Bursary, which supports members in the Asia-Pacific Region. Yes, I do self-fund some of my trips, but some of it is sponsored too. I started applying for International Events because I love travel, but also because Annie has encouraged me to seek funding from different sources, and has told me not to discount the idea just because I don't have the money sitting in the bank.

I don't know, I mean, if I apply and I don't get accepted, I think that's fine, I have had the opportunity to travel twice with Guides in the last six months, and both trips have been amazing. And I know that I will be a Guide for life, and that there will be plenty of other opportunities to develop my leadership skills and learn more about WAGGGS. The amazingly incredible Rosey has been a huge inspiration to me, through her determination and spirit to be part of International Guiding and visit the World Centres.

I really really lucked out on my 27th birthday when I was all bored and miserable and looking for something to do, and stumbled across volunteering for Guiding. It has been the best birthday present ever.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Recovery day.

Everything hurt this morning, and I slept in and ate a pancake and watched The Embassy on JumpIn. My feet hurt and my hands are aching, even now! It can't just be packing and servicing skates, I just feel worn out and worse for wear. I'm losing my patience, but I'm pretty good at internalising it.

In short, I have done very little to contribute to the world today. Seeing as I'm baching it for most of this week and all of the next, I probably haven't set very high standards for myself. I just forgot how nice it can be to do nothing and for that to be okay.

Carpal tunnel, you will not be the death of me!

But in seriousness, I am glad for just a few hours to do a whole heap of sweet FA.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

My favourite mistake.

A lot of quotable quotes suggest that a mistake isn't a mistake if you learn something, and as you always learn from mistakes, they don't exist.

Sometimes you learn from what you do wrong, or at least acknowledge it. Other times its just something you did wrong or without thinking. We need to stop trying to trivialise the bad stuff with a lesson learnt because it's not the best way to think. I don't care if a while heap of good things came out of a mistake, as far as I'm concerned, I made decisions about my life and some of them are wrong for me, even now, even though I have a  wonderful husband and a cat and a lifestyles really love. To say that something good came from the uphill battle against almost all odds seems like the right thing to say. But it really isn't.

Girls like to say this about relationships, that a bad relationship is something you can learn from . I've said many times myself "now I know what I don't want."  and guess what? I have still continued to choose what I don't want because my heart rules my head as all good hearts should do. I just have more answer and coping strategies.

It's really really really ok to make mistakes.

And today I've slipped over twice because I had sugar soap on my feet.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Potty-Mouthed Princesses - my not for profit response.

I finally sat down to watch FCKH8.com's F-Bomb's for Feminism Video, and I wasn't impressed.

I'm pretty easy to impress. I love infographics, I like videos with music playing in the background, I love statistics more than words can say. I didn't like this video.

As a feminist myself, I was pretty offended by the range and broad scope of issues a two and a half minute video tried to shover in under the umbrella of feminism. And here they are:
  • "I'm not a pretty fucking hopeless princess in distress - I'm powerful"!
  • Pay inequality
  • Girls who get As on college are paid the same as boys who get Cs.
  • Rape and violence
  • Stop telling girls how to dress
  • "Start telling boys not to fucking rape"
  • "Women's time to vote is here"
  • Women should be able to walk to the car without fear
  • About being pretty - "boobs and butts are more important than our brains?"
  • "It leads us to thinking 'my worth comes from my waist line'".
  • Stop focusing on how I look, give me a book"
  • Then come the helpful adults who sell us kinda cool t-shirts.
  • "Instead of cleaning out these girls mouths with soap, maybe society should clean up its act."
  • "This is what a princess looks like" (a adult wearing a t-shirt, flexing her biceps)
  • Money raised will help support charities for women
  • Random dude comes on to say "yo bro, when you tell a boy not to act like a girl, it's because you think it's bad to be a girl".
  • "Fuck that sexist shit!"
So many places to start. Basically, you can break down what they wanted to say like this:

Pay inequality exists
I won't generalise like the good people at FCKH8.com, but pay inequality does exist. I don't know where they get their stats from, but why begin the video with this, followed by an anti-rape message?

Sexual abuse of girls is wrong
Women don't get paid enough and 1 in 5 females are sexually assulted. This is not on the same line as pay inequality in my opinion.

The problem is that this is a broad issue, and they say helpful things like "start telling boys not to fucking rape". Who should? Society! Society is at fault!

Girls shouldn't be told how to dress either. That's fine, I don't like that either. What I do have a problem with is tiny children talking about huge issues for all genders. Children need to be taught about protective behavious and how to deal with inappropriate (for lack of a better word) interactions, but making little girls talk about things like women walking to their cars without fear brings up a whole heap of issues.

What upsets me most about this was the gender bias. Males are sexually assaulted too, and women can be abusers. To assume all women are the victims and all men are the perpetrators upsets me. That's not feminism, that's gender inequality.

Worth isn't based on what a girl looks like
We follow up the 'rape and violence' (and actually, I thought this would cover domestic violence - at least - but no, it doesn't) with some message about it shouldn't matter how a girl looks. And it doesn't, not in the slightest. We already have a lot of these messages and campaigns already, and there were so many other topics you could have covered, but no.

Buy some t-shirts
Now some helpful adults come on and say that little girls swearing is much less offensive than the way society (that is, society within the USA) treats women. Now, buy some freaking cool t-shirts to support some unnamed but helpful charities.

PS don't tell boys they are acting like girls
At the end of the vid, a boy dressed in one of the princess dresses (already worn by a girl in the clip) comes on to tell boys not to call other boys girls because it means you don't like girls and don't think they can do anything good. You might have seen the #LikeAGirl video, created but Always who make sanitary products. This was bandwagon jumping and din't really have a place in the video, except the kid was adorable.

All the problems with this video according to Lisa:

USA biased - Yes, discerning viewers know that they are talking about society within the USA, but if you wanted to look at the REAL ISSUES facing sexism, you would make it a world wide thing that doesn't only relate to one Western country. Pay inequality and body image, while important, and not really up on the scale with killing unborn female children just because they are a girl and or the state of maternal health in many countries. Of course, none of the statistics were referenced or even disclosed as being from a certain country.

Violence - For a section that was about 'rape and violence', violence, outside of sexual assault wasn't even covered. Violence against anyone, regardless of gender, is a a terrible thing.

Gender - This video was about bringing down sexism, and blaming men and "society" for inequality within the world. That's not okay with me. Gender doesn't have to define us, but in a video where little girls are swearing to make a point, it would be really nice not to teach those girls that men are to blame for everything.

Buy shirts damn it - No. Even though those shirts are kind of cool, you haven't given us any information about where the money is going. FKH8.com is a for-profit organisation. This is a 'viral' media campagin to help build their brand. We need to remember this.

Wouldn't somebody think of the children?! - On Wednesday I told an adorable child off for singing Anaconda. I'm one of those people who believe in censorship, or at least, removing the opportunity for kids to engage with media designed for adults, and that includes music, television and films. Why? Because kids should be kids and do fun stuff like climb trees and play with their cats and watch cartoons on Saturday mornings and ride bikes and all that awesome stuff I miss about being a kid. They shouldn't be listening to Nikki Minaj sing about her big butt, and all the sexy time she gets.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that it isn't okay to exploit children this way. They have used little girls to spread a message based on "feminist views" about very grown up issues and to talk about big issues that don't concern them and they may not understand. Girls do face discrimination. They need to know that sometimes they will be targeted for their gender. They need to know that it's okay to just be a princess, and that yes, sometimes you do need rescuing, though not necessarily by a guy, but it's okay to have someone you can depend on. I'm all pro swearing, but not when children do it, and not in a social situation which is inappropriate for the language being used.

But whhhhhhhhy?

I'm all for making gender inequality a thing of the past, but using little girls as objects to share a message goes against the the message you are trying to spread. FCKH8.com, you said that girls are powerful. That's all good and well, but give them power, not some script with YOUR ideas and messages.

Rant over.

Bad omens.

There are only so many things one person can process. In short, don't ever think everything is perfect because that's a really great time to make everything go, in Stephen's words, horribly wrong.

I'm okay though. Really. Don't get me wrong.

Priorities. Well, those people know who they are.

Also, I could insert song lyrics here but I don't really know any that are appropriate. This isn't MSN Messenger.

Monday, 13 October 2014

A lesson you really didn't need to teach me.

There's a few problems I have about being surrounded by teachers all the time, and that is, well, what I like to call 'being teachered'. Yes, I just made up that word, but anyone who has had to deal with us educational types know that feeling that somehow a person (The Teacher) decides they will cross the professional/personal line and decide that you have done something WRONG.

Not only does the phrase 'Lisa, I like the way you....' drive me a little bit bananas (as in, please don't patronise me, I have no need to be told I'm a good girl in a whole bunch of words that are stupid), the main problem I have is this: teachers creating teachable moments.

A teachable moment often occurs when something goes wrong and a teacher is like 'a-ha, I will use this to teach little Johnny something, like why you shouldn't litter, or why you need to pack your own school bag,' etc. This works, somewhat, with children, but only up to a point.

Other times, a teachable moment is someone making a HUGE deal out of something you did. As in 'oh, it was really nice you talked to Jack at lunch today, we all need to be friends in this class, etc etc.' Which brings on just as much awkwardness as the Bad Thing You Did Teachable Moment. I get this a lot, and always have, but really, I like spending time with people because I like them, not because I want to be "kind" (a pet hate word of mine right now) or "nice" to someone.

Sometimes, a teachable moment is created. A child is going to fall or fail without your help, and you refuse to help them. Usually this is something like not helping them find a book, or pencil, or checking whether their lunch is somewhere else today. I've noticed though that us teachers who aren't parents are quite happy for kids to struggle for 20 minutes trying to find their pen. Sorry, we can be jerks some times. Then, in high school, how many teachers come to your rescue? Well, none until you almost fail Science (tick) or become really ill and almost fail English and Maths (tick), or then you get halfway through Year 12 and teachers make some great big point how THEY have done all the work to get their students through the year. Get over yourselves, really.

In The Real World (and let's face it, most teachers, I have to say, don't live there), teachable moments are called things like MISTAKES and BAD CHOICES and COULDA WOULDA SHOULDAS.

I'm pretty good at making my own mistakes and bad choices, so I don't really need people to create ways for me to fall and fail miserably, or otherwise. And last night was a classic example. You know what, a little bit of kindness and compassion goes a really long way. Regardless of circumstance. And to be honest, things are crazy in my life right now, but not to the point where I'm sharing in on social media. Even if everything was a-ok, just a courtesy phone call would have been much nicer than the old 'let's teach Lisa a lesson' trick. Because I'm sick of that. I really really am.

I guess, in fairness to my colleagues, not everyone does these things. I'm just feeling stifled and conflicted. It's not that I can't cope. I cope fine. I just don't need people to make mistakes for me to  teach me what "I" did wrong.

More shit I am sick of hearing:

I like the way you... (Just stop. No.)

Use your words. (Crying does not equal words, but I'm not in the best frame of mind to tell you how I really feel, am I?)

You don't think things through. (Back at ya.)

So-and-so said I'm.... (That's great. What do you think? Do you agree? What can I actually do to help?)

I'm so annoyed at whoever, but I'm not going to tell you why. (Good. Then I don't have to deal with it, but also, how could you give me goss and then decide I'm unworthy of listening to why you're upset?)

And last time I did this... (Don't care. Does it apply to this situation? No. Shut UP.)

And when I was overseas... (Oh, please.)

Happiness is a choice. (Sure it is.)

This cost me THIS much money, and this was THIS much money and... (I really need THIS much money, give it to me now.)

Okay, rant over.
Happy Lisa is back.
Apologies if you think this blog is somehow aimed at you, but, well it problably is.

Sunday, 12 October 2014


I've been frantically packing today in the expectation of moving soonish. We filled in our first application last night, but I spoke with the agent this arvo and I have to say, it doesn't look promising.

So then, me being me, I found a whole heap more potential places which might suit us better anyway. I  had forgotten how horrible this process could be. My future job as also been painful. New police checks, new first aid quals, new references. I read last night that it isn't selfish to want what you don't have. I have to agree, though a lot of people would happily debate that fact.

Today I met someone who knows my husband as Steve, who also knows we are moving. It's a relief that it no longer needs to be under wraps anymore, though Facebook is a different story. I sometimes forget that Stephen has a whole life outside of our house and our little world that I don't know a lot about. Sometimes that makes me a selfish person, but I've always been clear that we both deserve and need our own space and time too, because, well, we would both go crazy otherwise. 

Anyway. Closure.

Closure will only come when this is all over. When the house is unpacked and we are both living in the one place at the same time. It hasn't been a bad few years, I'll be honest. It's been good. It has been really challenging too, but enough that I can stand it, and we have both looked at our lot in life and have decided to make it better. I think that's fair.

I will miss Kadina though. I'll miss our garden and our friends and my girls. It wouldn't be right if I didn't, but it also wouldn't be right to stay. 

Goodbyes are tough.i won't draw it out any longer than necessary.

The last blog post about vocation.

I'm about to stay up to some stupid hour to finish my Training and Assessment Course, so I thought I'd write just one little thing I have finally succumbed to: the notion that vocation is overrated and totally not who I am.

I am not a workaholic. I don't even like study that much. I like teaching, but I don't love it.  I wake up and want to do something different with my day. It's not that I'm not cut out for working - I am. I'm energetic, overactive, eager and driven by goals. But I haven't loved every job I have ever had, and even the ones I have liked had some pretty heavy down sides to them.

For a really long time I thought otherwise. I liked that my identity was tied to what I did. A very heated debate with a friend of mine convinced me that it is not our actual job, but our primary time spent "occupation" that people define us with. So right now I am a housewife, and before that I was a teacher, then a manager, then a youth worker, then a student... and so on. All this is very interesting but what I really want to know about people is not really what they do.

Part of the problem of being a teacher is that everyone thinks they know what you do. They get specific. While I was away I spent time with girls who work in other fields, but still white collar, and our questions to them were more about what they actually did within their job, rather than the specifics of it. And as much as my husband loves to say things like country teaching is a lifestyle, I can't say I really agree. Because our lifestyle is that we live in the country and we only do that because we have to work here, and make the very best of it.

In YITS we were told a lot to find out what you love and find a way to get paid for it, and you'll never work a day in your life. That's not actually true. I have had jobs doing things I have loved, but it is still work. Other people say that doing this causes passion and energy for your most loved thing to fade pretty quickly. The clique is a lie I have believed for too long. A psychologist who was on ABC RN a few weeks ago said that it should be that people find out what they are good at and find a way to work with that, instead of looking at what they like. There's a lot of things I like - love even - and I am completely crap at. I couldn't run a Body Attack class (mostly because I can't do push ups on my toes), I couldn't sew anything to the standard I need to to make money from it, I couldn't eat my way through Adelaide's best restaurants because there isn't the market for such things.

Despite all this, I really admire people who do follow their passions. I regret not completing my degree as a post graduate now. Really. My post grad friends are working in some great positions. I've gone the other way and completed my post grad quals but it hasn't made much of a difference in terms of teaching. But, it's me. I couldn't see the point in studying writing for three years to come out with a degree I could use for firelighting and not much else.

So, my big questions is really, what am I going to do now?

Besides trying to finish my Cert IV in Training and Assessment, and my Cert III in Travel, I'm in the middle of the application process to work for Camp Australia. I'm interested in so many things, and experienced in enough to be like 'here I am, take me, Random Employer' and hope for the best. It's been tough being here because there are so few job opportunities, and the ones I've had I haven't really wanted. Even good kids are naughty for TRTs!

What I know is that as much as I like teaching, I don't want it to define who I am, where I live or how I spend my free time anymore. It's now incredibly important that I define who I am and how I want to live before I take on another role that shapes me and makes me into someone who I don't necessarily know or even like very much.

This is why my blog tonight is my very last one about vocation. Because, simply, I'm beyond making what I do with my time, and how I make my living, being top priority in my life. It isn't about that anymore. I just want to be me again, not Mrs Birch, or Miss Holbrook, or The Teacher. That's okay, and enough for me right now.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Slut shaming. (Yes, this blog is about sex.)

One of my favourite movies is Easy A, in which Emma Stone's character Olive pretends to sleep with guys from her school, at first to help out a friend, but then because she is offered some perks, mostly money (and weirdly gift cards), but no one loves the fact she's taken The Scarlet Letter pretty literally. It works out for Olive all the same, she scores the guy and reconciles with those she's hurt on the path to self reconstruction.

I'll be honest here. I cried through about half of Easy A. Because. Slut shaming.

Nothing about Olive's character shows any sign of lack of self respect. She makes her own decisions, she stands up for herself, she speaks her mind. But, unlike her actual sexually active friends, Olive's sexuality is present for the world to see, a-la sexy corsets and rumour mills. But she's still a scarlet woman, because of how other people see her.

Laci Green, who is simply amazing, spoke in response to a Jenna Marble's video called Slut Edition. Jenna expresses that she only judges women as sluts depending on how many men they sleep with. Or something. You can listen to Laci's video here. She breaks the video down to define Jenna's view of sluts:
-they don't respect themselves
-respecting yourself means "not having a lot of dicks in you"
-they are really just stupid women and their behaviour don't deserve our respect.

It's all relative.

Laci is totally pro happy, healthy, safe sexual relationships. With whoever you want.

Jenna, not so much. Society is pretty much on Jenna's side.

This, I think, is where slut shaming begins. It stops being about personal choices and starts being about morality.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and those who buck the trend and make some calls are suddenly joining the club of Olive and Laci. Taking the sides of sluts.

The reason I wrote about this is basically because I've been trying to define how I see sexuality, and to be honest, it is really tough. I have written before about the purity myth and how I feel about relationships and Christianity. But I don't think I've tackled this because I've never been able to really voice it properly. So, here are some thoughts from me about sex. Because, well, who doesn't like talking about such things?

I'm going to be really really honest here. Apologies in advance.

Spirituality and sexuality is important. Guilt isn't.
I have signed purity pledges, I've made promises and boundaries and all sorts of things to make me a better person who won't engage in any form of sexual activity, even thinking about it. I know of some weird pacts college friends agreed to around masturbation. I've watched my friends, several of them, struggle with their own sexuality for a long time. And I think part of this is really about guilt, about misinformation and about moral panic setting in.

I have read the books. I know how I'm supposed to be kind to my Christian brothers. I happily wear 'non cleavage tops' (you know what I mean). I make cookies, I don't flirt, don't touch, don't give massages (though I knew someone who did this all the time and I was like 'ugh, really?!), give those weird side hugs so no one comes into contact with my breasts in any way. I don't talk about sex, I can't laugh at anything inappropriate in the movies, I don't know what I don't know.

And all of these things are really not who I am, or ever have been, except the cookies. I just really like cookies.

When I have broken the rules, and I have, countless times, it's me who gets called out. For leading someone into sin. Being reminded 'we're supposed to be Christian'. For not wearing something that resembles a potato sack. For doing something that suggests that 'I've probably had sex before'. For having 'problems with boys'. That we should stop having sex until our relationship is on solid ground. All of those things, all of them, point to one fact: I am a bad, bad woman. And I mean that in a totally non kinky way.

In reality, I think, in comparison to other people, I made some reasonably good choices. I've only really had my heart broken once. I went to two parties in high school that were actually parties and not dinner at Pizza Hut. My first boyfriend broke up with me because I would only kiss him. I was a good girl, and always had been, but I had sex, and that made me bad. It meant my soul would lose it's stickiness, that some future husband would have to unwrap a gift that had already been used by someone else (yes, really), that I had no self control whatsoever. And all of this comes back to guilt and society's view of What a Girl Should Be, and in this light, yes, I'm happy to say, I'm fully prepared to be slut shamed.

Sexuality is about relationships. Or, you're selfish and possibly a slut.
I don't know whether I'd call it a lie, because it isn't, but basically the understanding is that you're a slut if you're sleeping with someone you're not committed to, unless you're a man, which is different. To have sex with someone randomly is not something we embrace as a society. I'd like to say it's because it is unsafe, but it's mostly because we see it as something that is not something good girls do. Slut shamed, right there.

While we are on it... the Friend Zone is part of this. On behalf of women, I'd like to say that Friend Zoning might be a thing, but if you're coming with ulterior motives, you deserve to be friend zoned. You can read a lot about this stupid thing guys came up with to make themselves feel better, but there is a really good blog written by a guy about this very topic here.

No one else gets to choose about your sex life, except you.
This is a truth I wish I had known a long time ago.

We, women and men, need to take back other people's preconceived notions of what we should or shouldn't be doing with our bits and start making choices about what's best for us in that moment. Who is responsible for your sexual wellbeing? One person - you! Not your partner, your friends, the nice staff at Honey Birdette, your church leaders. Those people can help you make decisions, but aren't an authority on who you are and what you need.

I don't want to say we should do away with accountability and suggestions of how we can do the right thing within our own brand of spirituality, especially because many people align their morals with religion, and sexuality does hand in hand with that. But no one really has the right to decide who's getting what and who with and where and when. Good for them.

Sex shouldn't be taboo.
Despite everything, there's lots of things about sex that aren't okay for us to know or talk about. Take 50 Shades of Grey. I read all of those books when they came out (romance writers will tell you they are kind of tame, and pro-sex people will tell you that the author's interpretation of the BDSM is harmful and hurtful) and it made it kind of okay to talk about sex, at least for a bit, even to say things like 'can you believe... OMG, butt plugs... he does what now?!' It's never really been okay to talk about sex, as far as I am concerned, until someone has lost 'The Big V' (as I kept calling it), and then I would be keen for some solidarity, no details requested (or wanted really!)

It's all relative. These truths are only my own. I have no issues with people taking up challenges to stay pure, or stay away from porn or wearing clothes that aren't "suggestive". I have issues with slut shaming, and people using spiritual manipulation to drive others to submission or suggesting a sexually active person has no self respect.

If we think this kind of behaviour isn't going to lead to dangerous and inappropriate views of sex within the context of marriage, we are fooling ourselves. I wrote about this here.

I'm at a loss of where to end this, but in short, make up your own mind, because the only person who knows you best is... well, you.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The pursuit of happIness. But, actually, contentedness.

One thing I have heard through my whole life are prhrase like...
...as long as you're happy
...your happiness is most important
...if you're not happy, no one else is happy
...just be happy that you are doing this that or the other.

All these things are not actually about being happy.

Here are a few things that actually make me really happy. Deliriously.
  • eating icecream and reading
  • fish and chips from Soto's sitting on the lawn at Semaphore
  • Rundle Mall first thing in the morning
  • listening to music in the dark/in solitude/on the bus
  • American Pickers
  • stretching after a tough gym class
  • surprises of most any shape or form
  • handwirtten letters
I can't stay in that happy mode. All of those things are experiences and moments. All the same, I'm not hard to make happy if you have access to such lists. But not everyone does, actually, no one does. Oh, so some people know that these things make me happy, but how I feel about them is hard to explain.

I, of course, have happy moments relating to other people, or favourite activities to do with my friends, whatever. The thing about all my moments and things is that you can mostly plan for them.

You can plan to have a happy moment in a bad day, but you can't plan to have a happy day in a bad mood. And that's where it all goes wrong.

The moments of true happiness are small. No one can stay in that euphoric state for too long. And for the most part, I am what people call a 'happy' person.  But, actually, I'm just bubbly and enthusiastic and willing to try things. This doesn't make me a happy person, but I'm pretty content most of the time. And that's what I want to hear more of - I'm content. In life in general.

 We can't make moments stretch on forever, and so I choose to no longer buy into the happiness myth, in which, if most everything in my life is "good" or at least "right", then I should be a happy person. No. I'm content. I'm happy when I tap into my deliriously happy moments, but content the most of the time. So all this crazy work right now - running around and doing courses and police checks and spending money to make sure I get a job, is not making me happy. But. I'm content that I've been offered something at least. And if all goes according to plan, well, I plan to be happy and celebrate with Soto's.

Happy Anniversary baby. (4 years of teaching today!)

Four years of teaching.

I'd like to say it's gone by quickly, but that's kind of a lie.

Way back on my first day of uni we were asked to make a list of things we were sacrificing to complete the degree. I had a very long list. I thought that my list would no longer be a sacrifice when I had finished. I would be living where I wanted to, I'd have my family close by, I would have time to do things I love to do.

That's pretty much a lie too.

If anything, since I have been teaching I have sacrificed a lot more than at the start of my degree.

My family. My trips home. My reasonable locality to my brother, and doing stupid stuff like hunting down chocolate chip cake for his birthday because he really liked it when he was younger. Teaching means no student travel card, and that means most of the time it is just as easy to fly home. But then, I have to find places to leave my car and that's not always easy.

And my friends. All of them. I still have the same friends I did when I started my degree, give or take a few. I am so blessed beyond words that they have visited me almost anywhere I have gone. But I miss them. A lot. I've blogged about beach runs and coffee dates and pasta nights, but what I actually really miss is staying in and watching lame TV shows like Cheaters when we should have something better to do with our time.

Living in little towns mean that there's little choice for shopping. Life in Balaklava was ridiculously expensive, and here Woolies and Target are the only places we can really shop. One of my contracts sliced the classroom budget to $300 a year. Including photocopying. I spent a lot of money that year, most of the stuff had been totally trashed by the kids afterwards. My favourite parent complaint that year was that I didn't have good enough prizes in the prize box, and did I know I could buy a set of erasers from Target for two dollars?

And, most importantly, my health.
I have not been healthy since my first few weeks of teaching. I stopped gym, I started eating lunch orders, I couldn't drink water between 8am and 3pm. I stopped needing to walk anywhere.
Yeah. That''s been really fun.

There's a lot of little things too. I miss having some kind of choice over where I am. But I do. And I need to keep reminding myself of that fact.

What I've never really said before is this:  midway through my first term of teaching I decided if I had to move to the country, I wanted to be living close to either Narelle or Stephen. So I applied to work in the Riverland near Narelle, and on the YP and Adelaide Plains near Stephen. Of course, I got the job in Balak, and Stephen and I started spending lots of time together, and now we're all married and stuff.

All of that was my choice. No one said I had to even leave Adelaide in the first place. When I left, a lot of change happened quickly. I left my jobs, I was broken up with (twice!), I had a farewell and comissioning service, we had Big Night Out to celebrate my two months away, I ate a lot of dinners and bought way too many CDs and DVDs. And all of this in the course of ten days. I honestly thought I would be back by December. And now, I'm sitting here on my couch in Kadina thinking about packing more boxes (will this ever end), four years later, going back to almost nothing, but a very loosely termed job offer and a place in the Fresh Meat Intake for MC Roller Girls.

I like teaching.
I like making kids laugh and teaching them something for the first time, and celebrating success and professional learning and school holidays.


I don't think I'll keep doing it forever. And I dodn't think this means I've wasted my degree, because every bump in the road and all those hours spent studying were some of the happiest in my life, and I don't want to take it back now, even if I could.

I know that I'm facing opposition from all sides. That's okay. I can live with that, because I'm tough and because I know that another four years in the country, or at least here, will do me in. This year has not been kind to me. One one hand I have travelled a lot, which was one of my resolutions. On the other hand I've been fired (but in their defense, they thought I was pregnant, the hell?!), my derby team has gone kaput,  I haven't been able to get home very much even when I really wanted to. I've had no mad money, my gym is stupid and I stick out like a sore thumb.

This blog was supposed to be about four years of teaching, but now it should be plain to see that teaching, in it's current form, is embracing a lifestyle as well as a career. And it's not a lifestyle I have ever wanted or could live with for a long time, even though I have tried.

I would do it all again though.
Because. Stephen.
And also, Guides, and travel, and seeing more of the state, and becoming a Birchy and country cooking.

Today, for these past four years, I am grateful.
But I'm taking back what I sacrificed four years ago, starting today, now that I've eaten a good breakfast and finished a Spin class.

No promises about my future, except that I think I'm making the right decision. To be indecisive and choosy all at the same time.