… and then I waited for the response somewhat anxiously.*

I’m one of those people who takes on loads of commitments. This has pretty much been a lifelong habit. For most of my life this has also been a successful strategy for personal and professional development and has contributed greatly to my achievements in life.

Taking on new opportunities and challenges has enabled me to learn new skills knowledge and set myself apart from my peers. It was a way of communicating to anyone who cared: “Hey, I’m good, just look how busy I am and how well I take on new challenges”.

And it worked. That old adage of “if you want something done, give it to the busiest person’ seemed to apply and people would ask me to do more and more. I started taking on formal leadership roles at university and got my first management role in my late 20′s. I got headhunted and for a time being, quite highly paid. So it was not only a successful strategy but a strategy for success.

I kept putting my hand up, driven by an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, social justice and of course, good old-fashioned ambition. But for the last couple of years, that strategy hasn’t been adding to the quality of my life, it’s been detracting.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been coping with pain and discomfort in my wrist, forearms and lately, upper arms too. The lack of balanced activity in my life (too much time at the computer and not enough opposing activity) has left me with weak upper arms and shoulders. Fortunately my physio confirmed that I do not have any cartilage or tendon damage or problems with my carpal-tunnel. For that I’m grateful. These aches and pain are manageable, curable even.  Not everyone is so lucky.

The shooting pains and pins and needles have driven me to reexamine my life and how I lead it (again). It’s clear that I need to reprioritise. So I’m trying to slow down, increase the amount of exercise I do, focus on doing more of what I enjoy. But slowing down also means doing less.

The idea of giving things up, fills me with dread. “People need me” my overdeveloped sense responsibility would whisper. “Because I can, I must help”. If I tried to quit a group, all someone had to do was express dismay and I would quite possibly, come running back.

But here is the thing. It’s not just a sense of responsibility and social justice that compels me, there is clearly a strong ego-driven competent here. Some of you might think this has been obvious all along, but it wasn’t that obvious to me. And if it was, I did a pretty good job of pretending it wasn’t.

The truth is that it feels good to be asked to do things. It feels great to get thanked and praised and receive those imaginary gold stars of recognition.

That whisper of “They need me” may be true (and often it isn’t) but that doesn’t mean they can’t get it done without me. To make a blanket assumption otherwise would be nothing short of arrogance. Why would I assume that I am so integral? Why should I doubt the capability of and therefore devalue the people around me?

I’ve always been a know-it-all, confident in myself and perhaps a bit arrogant. But I’ve also prided myself on my leadership skills. I suppose what’s dawning on me is that sometimes leadership means not doing something because you place your faith and confidence in others, thus empowering them to do whatever it was they asked you to do.

Writing this reminds me of one of the first leadership roles I ever had. I ran a group of peer educators for a number of years at university and worked closely with a friend called Liz to run the events. She made a point of telling me one day that she had never thought she would be able to take on leadership roles like that and credited me with empowering her to do so.

From my perspective she had always been capable, she just hadn’t had an opportunity or someone who believed in her abilities. That’s a form of leadership that isn’t discussed as much as some of the other, more obvious traits. In this case leadership can be about clearing space for others and demonstrating our confidence in them.

So I don’t have to sacrifice well-being to help save the world and I sure can help build the belief in others that they can make a difference.

* by the way, I can happily confirm that this responsibility has remained relinquished.

A rotten card indeed

A rotten card indeed

Oh har har. So fucking funny right?

Because only women like Maroon 5 right?

And so if you like Maroon 5, you must be a woman right? *

Because women don’t like metal right?

And being a woman is just so awful that calling a man “a woman” is apparently a terrible insult, right?

Is that why it’s funny?

Or is it because liking Maroon 5 must mean you have your period, because of all those womanly emotions and stuff….?

I fail to see why insulting people by calling them ‘female’.. is funny. I am a woman. So are 50+% of the population. I am not embarrassed or ashamed to be a woman. So stop treating my gender like an insult.

C’mon folks. Think before you post stupid shit like this.

 

* Newsflash, not all women use or need tampons. Not all women menstruate. Imagine that. Diversity of biology within our gender.

 

What the Fox?

November 3, 2013

Foxes are pretty trendy at the moment and I can see why! They are super cute, wily and function extremely well as design inspiration.

This hoody was inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest. Someone way more talented than I came up with this idea.

This was also my first time doing appliqué and I think it came out super cute!

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Ransom

October 18, 2013

We left two of our beloved toys at a friends house. And this happened.

“Pay the ransom or the doe-eyed giraffe gets the knife”

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“Last warning or the fat cat gets the sharp slice”

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“Fat cat so scared”

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“I warned you”

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“Electrocuted kitty nipples smell like burning chicken”

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I submit

October 10, 2013

I have been struggling to find the words for a submission to the select committee inquiry into funding for the sexual violence sector. I thought I would write this epic, moving, eloquent, analytical piece of brilliance.

But I couldn’t do it.

Instead, I’ve submitted to the emotional exhaustion that comes with caring so much about all the harm that it keeps you working and working and working and just said the only few lines I could think of.

I’ve submitted this:

I volunteer for a sexual violence support agency.

The work that is done there is some of the most important work in the world. Lives are saved. Regularly.

The experiences of survivors need to be validated. All survivors are entitled to a safe and accessible place to talk about the harm that has been done to them. Current funding does not enable services to meet the need. People are left to cope on their own.

The workers who support survivors should be valued through strong salaries and the support they need to continue to do the work. Current funding means they struggle to make the organisational ends meet, they worry about the sustainability of their own livelihoods and may even be harmed themselves through prolonged exposure to this work if the right support systems are not in place.

The Government must increase funding for sexual violence support agencies.

The Government must take a strong, explicit stand against sexual violence, sexual assault and rape in our communities.

Everyone’s life is harmed by the existence of rape and sexual abuse. As long as rape and sexual abuse exists, we are all survivors.

Do not leave it up to charity and volunteerism to pick up the tremendous cost of this difficult work.

 

If you would like to make a submission. Here are some links.

http://www.wellingtonrapecrisis.org.nz/images/stories/pdfs/submission.pdf

Wellington Rape Crisis Submission guide – http://www.wellingtonrapecrisis.org.nz/blog/submissions

A video message about submitting – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Upki0L3yP4Y
MAKE YOUR SUBMISSION HERE – http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/sc/make-submission/50SCSS_SCF_00DBSCH_INQ_12392_1/inquiry-into-the-funding-of-specialist-sexual-violence

Some sewing

October 6, 2013

Yesterday, I tried to refashion a huge dress I found at the tip-shop, but I gave up after I butchered the neckline. I felt pretty discouraged, but today I completed three sewing projects.

The first was an adult dress which became a peasant style tope for Anabelle I just loved this fabric!

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Then I turned this adult sized skirt in to a dress for Kadie. (I died it last weekend)

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And then I made this tee shirt dress for Kadie and I plan to make one for Anabelle tomorrow.

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And just because it’s hilarious, check out this photo. Anabelle try to be cool and dad playing the fool. (Shades of things to come…. )

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DIY Princess dress

September 26, 2013

For years we’ve encouraged a range of interests for our girls. This year we fully indulged the princess theme for the birthday party for the seven year old and I made the dresses.

You know those pink mosquito net things that some kids have? Well ours had them, but it only took the dog jumping on the bed a couple of times for them to start tearing. They would have let a mosquito the size of a cat through, but I knew there would be a way to recycle them.

So I laid them out, folded them (Which was a HUGE pain to do as they are pretty unwieldy) chopped them up and folded again. I added a casing so I could loop some of the material through to tie them around and added more loops as a halter tie.

Added a spangly bit to a big ribbon to cinch the waist in and ta-daa!

The end result was pretty good for a Friday night effort!

Princess Kadie

tastes. so. good.

tastes. so. good.

Which is what I told myself this morning, when I made the coffee, starting a new bag of the good stuff before the old bag of the yuck stuff was done.

And I deserve good coffee. I need good coffee. I can feel my brain straining in anticipation as the water boils, the aroma wafts out at me…

I deserve good coffee. I do my work, I pay my taxes, I volunteer, I donate, I play my part, I deserve this, I tell myself, trying desperately not to think of the places and people in my world who need so much more than coffee.

But I deserve this, I need this. I need my coffee to start the day, to set the tone to signal the start of another day of moving, moving through the world fast, pushing to do, everything that people ask, demand, need of me to do. And more. Of course, more. Writing endless lists that never end. Always finding more for myself to do. Can’t you see I’m busy dammit?

While drinking my coffee and meeting with people I was told of this syndrome, of rushing women, who rush even when they don’t need to rush. Who have somehow sped their lives up to a speed, which can outpace their hearts and their lives.

I may have a condition called perfectionism I confessed to someone recently. I may be a rushing woman. I may be setting goals for myself which keep me in a constant state of busy not-enough. Not enough achieved, not enough done, not enough made. Just. Not.

Enough.

My coffee dwindles.

There was a time when I thought ‘perfect’ was a thing. That it could be, it could actually happen but that I just wasn’t it and if I kept trying maybe one day I would be.

But now I realise that perfectionism has nothing to do with the quality of what I do, it has to do with how, in my own eyes, nothing is good enough. Measuring, comparing, striving, improving.

And yes, I’m grateful for the benefits these attitudes have provided me in my own privileged world. But the balance needs to be maintained as well.

My thoughts drift to my recent holiday. A month away. I drank so much coffee, quietly, in beautiful places, where the only thing to do, to achieve was to drink that coffee, drink in the view and just be. Just be with the people I love most in this world. Surrounded with sights, smells and sounds that resonated deep within.

There was no rushing. There was no competing with some inner mirror.

There was just time and more time, to be and to drink that coffee. But damn it was good.

My brother Connor, Granny and me

My brother, Granny and me

I just wrote a book with my Granny.

Kinda.

Ok, hang on, let me back up.

My Granny was an artist. She lived with us for a number of years when I was little and I remember her sculpting, painting with different mediums, sketching and arranging flowers.

She taught me how to make fairy houses in the garden and I remember admiring her many ornaments that she had.

She was just one of those people who made beautiful things. She made things beautiful.

Sadly she sold off many of her works of art, I think to create space for a different future, but those of us who have pieces of her art just love love love them. One of my mum’s most prized possessions is a richly painted ostrich egg.

She painted some amazing watercolor illustrations for children’s stories and they’ve been floating around for years and years.

A couple of years ago, I laboriously scanned them all in to my computer and edited them. The paper had yellowed and so they needed freshening up. I edited the stories and tonight, published one of her stories as an ebook.

I’m still experimenting with it all, but if you’re keen to have a read, please do. If for no other reason to admire her charming paintings.

And there is a bit more where this came from, so I’ll eventually add a couple more stories.

Find the story here. It’s free for now.

Suitable for children of all ages.

An invocation for women

June 28, 2013

This is how I opened and closed the Wellington Rape Crisis AGM last night.

 

Before we start I would like us to just take a few moments.

just to center ourselves

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Kale blooms

to take a deep breath

to close our eyes if we wish

let’s presence ourselves

here

in this space

in this chair

with these people

in this moment

 

and I ask that we think of the women

who have been part of our lives

and the journey that has led us here

the women we love

the women we’ve lost

the women we have laughed with

the women we have cried with

the women who we have fought alongside or just fought with

even the women for whom we hold no affection but who may still have taught us lessons that we carry with us

the women we have defended and those who have defended us

The women we nurture and those who have nurtured us

 

Let us bring their presence

in to the room

To surround us

let us fill our hearts and minds with their memories and warmth

let their wisdom guide our speech

their experience guide our decisions

let their resilience fortify our resolve

let their love infuse our cooperation

let us keep them here with us in the room during our time together

as we pull our attention back to the business at hand

Thank you

 

 

 

(closing)

As we close our time together, let us take a moment to presence ourselves once more

with a deep breath and a calm mind we reflect on what we have discussed and decided here

and the work ahead

Let us turn our attention again to the women we have brought into the room with us and thank them

Let us be grateful to them for their contributions

Let us appreciate them for their love, their pains, their strong backs and backbones

May we realise that we are among greatness

May we come to know that we are greatness

These women are us and we are them

May we appreciate ourselves

 

Thank you for being here tonight.

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