Boomerang traveller

Why would you want to go there?

It is like the twilight zone! Everyone is stuck permanently in 1970.

Despite the teasing, I was eager to visit my parents and older brother who had relocated from Brisbane, Queensland to rural Green’s Beach, Tasmania.

It was 1982.

My parents had purchased a house in need of repair, with a separate chalet, on a large parcel of land. Never showing any interest in golf, I was surprised to discover that the back-garden gate, led onto the green. The closest my parents, came to the Member’s Bar was to regularly re-cycle buckets of balls that they dug out of their garden.

My friends however, were correct on some accounts.

Living in Sydney, I had adopted an eclectic style influenced by Debbie Harry from the American band, Blondie. I wore my hair pixie short and dyed it platinum blonde. I fitted seamlessly into the Sydney band and club scene.

However, in Launceston, plaid shirts, mullet haircuts and corduroy flared jeans were still in full swing. I had traded neon lights for the sound of screeching tyres.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the local parade of car enthusiasts, showcased their Torana, Fairlaine, Cortina or Kingswood by bog laps around the city blocks.

In the daylight hours, I could be assured of at least a couple of wolf whistles and cat calls, walking down the Launceston main street, despite having little skin exposed. I soon adopted a more laid back style and bought a pair of Tasmanian made, Blundstone boots.

My adventures around Tasmania, over the past 34 years, remain my fondest. I have been ‘in love’,  since my first breath of full bodied air.

Armed with a bulging backpack, I hitched many times across the ‘Apple Isle’.  Despite my parents’ concerns about hitchhiking, I thumbed my way from north to south, east to west, sometimes with others, but mainly on my own.

I have slept in many youth hostels, including one with a pet wombat, and played cards late into the morning with travellers from all over the world. In 1985, I returned to live in North Hobart for a year. I worked in a friend’s café, and made my debut, as a backup singer in a local band.

I have numerous stories that await another time to be told.

I have witnessed a lot of changes over the years. The shift from unlocked houses and cars, to security systems and the steady disappearance of the manufacturing industry. Tourism is Tasmania’s ‘bread and butter’ revenue.

The remote wilderness areas never fail to impress, as do the pristine beaches of Freycinet and the stunning Wineglass Bay. The tulip fields of Table Cape in full bloom are a rainbow of beauty.

The convict ruins of Sara Island, Port Arthur or Bruny Island remind us all of our humble national birth and the resilience of the Tasmanian people who have forged lives out of bush, so dense and inhabitable.

However, there are some casualties of time, the once iconic moonscape of Queenstown is now like a damp biscuit, forgotten and unappealing.

The avant-garde creative communities of Hobart, Burnie, Launceston and other Tasmanian rural townships have created strong networks where business innovation has flourished. There continue to be thousands of examples of great entrepreneurism, including the mobile coffee van with portable fold out tables and chairs, for tourists viewing Hell’s Kitchen at Eaglehawk Neck.

Salamanca Place markets, I believe are still the finest example of creative markets in Australia. I am not sure that in 2016, they are quite as eclectic as they were in the early 1990’s when bands played on the grassed area. In my younger body, I enjoyed freely dancing to the home grown indie rock.

In 2015, I discovered Tasmanian artist Dewayne Eversmith, when he was touring in Perth, West Australia.  In 2012, Dewayne, at that time an Aboriginal Health Worker, was the songwriter of the 250-million-dollar Australian tourism promotion. His inspiration was Strahan. He had not released any music at the time.

I have returned to Tasmania over 16 times, since 1982. It is my second home.

In the festive season of 2016, the lure of the Asian tourist dollar is reflected in dual signage written in English and Mandarin in most of the major attractions.

I deeply appreciate the importance of targeted tourism for the sustainability of small townships and the Tasmanian people in general. I wonder however, how much ‘cultural sensitivity’ is discussed to assist tourists before travelling around Australia.

Consideration works both ways. Perhaps our eagerness to sell our country has lowered the opinion of others of the worth that we value our land and our customs?

In the pristine wilderness of Strahan, I do not want to hear high pitched voices, loudly conversing, nor do I want to have my view interrupted with the taking of endless photos of the same scene with different members of the troupe.

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Here in Tasmania, if you are fortunate, you are still able to witness Australia’s fauna in situ.

Despite quietly stopping to view a wombat on the stretch between Cradle Mountain and Sheffield, I did not feel inclined to inform a car of international tourists who had stopped to seize upon a photo opportunity, the whereabouts of the live animal.

As an Australian and protective of our fauna and flora, I did not want this beautiful creature to be exposed to opportunistic tourists. There were no fences there, to protect these animals from our need to capture our experience of them.

Tasmania is to be embraced as a unique place of beauty and experienced through interaction, not viewed through the lens of a camera alone.

The slow march of humanity

As we age we can skirt sheepishly against the edges of once vibrant and inclusive lives. Like half-ghosts, our former selves begin to disappear. Our conversations are peppered with an apology for our thinning hair, sagging flesh and declining mental acuity.

Ageing in full view is exposing and humiliating in a society that promotes youth and beauty. Doctors surgeries offer up humanity, raw and on display. A menagerie of middle age tattooed flesh, crying babies, walking frames, recalcitrant toddlers and those whose burden is the fear of a bad news.

I have frequented doctors surgeries far too often over the past four years through necessity rather than choice. Some people however visit daily.

I knew a hypochondriac once. He manufactured and imagined a creative array of conditions. It was an impressive performance. There was a constant appeal for sympathy in every glance or verbal exchange. A headache was a medulloblastoma, a toothache an abscess promising jaw disfigurement and a twinge, an impending knee reconstruction.

In his defence, he was stuck in the mouth, by a horse when he was a toddler. A candidate for post traumatic stress disorder, he has been stuck in flight mode since.

These days, I have little patience for those who clog up the system with phantom aliments.

There are alternative options to socialise and maintain connectivity with others through a variety of community service programs or by the act of volunteering.

Like a an experienced emergency nurse once said’, It is called Emergency, come back when you f*cking have one!’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing the winds of change

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Husband and Wife – Lockie and Jess

Saturday last was a pleasantly warm but a persistently windy Perth day. The Australian salute was in full swing, at the arrival of the spring flies. We Australians are born with a coping mechanism to deal with these annoying insects. We accept them, along with our diverse oceans, pristine sands and majestic gums. In our hotter climes like Western Australia, flies dance around our faces and join the party at any given chance. The wind made both their landing and the taking of photographs, precarious.

It was a significant day for my eclectic family and a day of many firsts. For my youngest son, the day marked the first one, married to his best friend. For my eldest son, it was the first wedding that he had attended, the first in the role of ‘best man’ and his first public speech. I was exceptionally proud of the kind, considerate, handsome and intelligent men that they are. All of them excelled in their duties on the day. I am very pleased to have another developing writer and public speaker in the family.

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Right to Left: Jay (Best Man), Cam (Groomsman) and Lockie (Groom) – The Three Amigos!

It was the first day that I would come face to face with my ex-husband’s third wife. Reportedly she speaks little English.  I was polite and introduced myself, but did not feel inclined to stretch beyond the social pleasantries. We have so little in common.

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Beautiful young woman, sister Bayley.

It was also the day that I reconnected with my ex-husband’s daughter, from his fractured second relationship. I had not seen her for over 14 years.  A day that a distanced daughter came face to face with her absent father.  Her mother and I have more in common, we have both raised outstanding children. She is her ‘mother’s daughter:- graceful, intelligent and guarded in his presence. On this day, his daughter thanked me for enabling the relationship between the siblings to occur and for not being a barrier between them 16 years before.  Since her father and I will one day be but dust, and leave behind our collective children, what right do I have to prevent such familiar love occurring?

Many of us on this day, were riding the waves of uncertainty and anxiety, but collectively there was greater intent to rise above old grievances and disappointments and to celebrate the coupling of hope and promise and experience the opportunity to reconnect.  For me, the old wounds, picked at, did not bleed. Perhaps for others they are still too fresh.

I continue to chip away at clearing the clutter in a physical sense and I take the opportunity to remove anything that does not resonate joy. Our country cottage has been undergoing renovations, including exterior painting, the building of a fence and arbour, replenished front and back decking and new lighting. A new path is planned with sparkling quartz and standard roses for the garden beds.

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I have learned the importance of boundaries, physical and personal.

There is more work to do but isn’t that the case with home ownership and relationships?

All of the wedding preparations were handled by Jess and her mother and father, Sharon and Brenton.  They have raised their children with respect, kindness and boundaries. I know that our collective grandchildren, will be raised with those values as well.  I thank them sincerely as I am no longer able to cope with any additional stress. My physical health is one that I am slowly accepting as more fragile than I care to admit.

I have progressed some what along the road of enlightenment, as I do not feel compelled to ensure that another person’s needs must always come before my own. The legacy of a childhood, where one sibling took all the sunshine and left little light for the other.  At this stage of my life, I must firstly consider my own well being.

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Best friends endure for life! Thank you Sue!
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Faithful Greg – sharing the best and worst of times.

Knowing what is and is not your responsibility and what you can and can’t do, is very liberating though profoundly frustrating. I managed only one dance and will pay for it for several days ahead. I am glad that I have taken the opportunity to dance along the way.

Having loved ones to share the journey and finding the courage to embrace change and forgive,  is all that really matters in the end.

Clearing the Clutter

There is an implied obligation that accompanies our possessions. Ideally each one should serve a specific purpose, bring joy through beauty, reflect our individual identity, link us to our heritage, confirm our allegiance to tribe, culture and/or team and collectively represent our living experience. But can they all claim to be doing so?

How much stuff do you own? Is this stuff a true mirror of your authentic self? Is your accumulation of things, preventing you clearing your emotional baggage?  If you are stuck, perhaps the answer lies in the process of ‘clearing’.

Many of us are drowning in useless possessions, that bring no joy and that are collecting dust, waiting for that ‘one day’ when their purpose will be realised.  I have a container of various lengths of string for a day, such as this.

Unwanted and unused possessions often mirror our unrealised hopes and dreams, unfinished projects, failed ambition and maybe the past selves that are no longer reflected in our thoughts, actions and lives. Are you being haunted by possessions that represent someone you have grown out of being?

My socialisation included the forensic examination of the value of material possessions. Surviving the horror of war, my parents, both born in 1914,  experienced first hand how quickly life can be extinguished. They emigrated to Australia, with meagre possessions and like many others of their generation, slowly built their life by industrious labour, preferring to pay for everything with cold hard cash.

You can accumulate a lot of stuff, ask anyone over 50 and you may find that which is annoying you, is not yours alone. Perhaps you are offering a free storage facility for your adult family? This is less of a problem if it is neatly packed in a shed. If it is filling up your cupboards and piling up in the corners of your living space, I suggest a family conference is required.

Many of us daily drag the heavy burden of emotional clutter where ever we go. The old hurts of battles lost and even those won with cost. The unforgiven, or forgiven but never forgotten. Our grievances in a world that is simply, unjust.

Why do we find it so hard to let go? Are we hard-wired to hold on? The stubborn child in me, would like to lay some of the blame, squarely at the feet of my enabling re-purposing parents. The adult in me, knows that this is beyond ridiculous!

I have recently taken up a 365 day challenge to clear. This may come as a surprise to some of my friends, some who have openly expressed, in a tone bordering on shocked concern, ‘It is looking very sparse in here’. I learned from a woman who lived in a shoe that it is best to keep a small space clear of unwanted things, if the people that matter are to fit in.

So then to the task of clearing. I started in areas that evoked the least resistance, for fear that I would abandon the quest altogether, if I launched head first into my richly evocative fabric cupboard. The time will come, but not yet. My aim was to commence the clearing of physical clutter, so that it will ultimately trigger the release of emotional clutter.

I started in my book shelves, however the non-fiction library of self help books is currently out of bounds.  I scanned the back of the novels that I had picked up from many op shop hunts, which at the time sounded interesting but have only served to guard the shelves for years. I am blessed to receive over six new books per year, from my loved ones and dearest friends (who know me well) and have many more books recommended to me to read. Unless I am actively in pursuit of a novel or a book launches itself off the selves into my hands, I am releasing these to roam other shelves and giving up the habit. Selfishly I am glad that the best op shop for books has closed down!

But what to do with unwanted gifts? OM, re-gift, recycle, release, out with the old, in with the new OM’.  I edit,”selectively in with the new OM”.

I am an experienced recycler and  I can let go of material possessions with relative ease, as long as I switch off the re-purposing gene, and no one is suggesting that I let go of my collection of high heels. That day is slowly dawning. My parents, were re-purpose gurus, there was no limit to the possibilities that two environmentalists would go. One litre milk cartons would be sliced off and slithers of used soap jammed into the trimmed base, to make new bars. A kaleidoscope of  options presented in a squared slab, that bewildered confronted visitors. This was in 1960’s, before the wash of homemade soap options, filled market stalls.

I am simply unashamedly unable to ‘re-gift’. Not for fear of giving it straight back to the giver, as I am a disciplined organiser, but because I have a high H ( Honesty – Humility) factor in my personality. This book, The H Factor of Personality- Kibeom Lee & Michael C Ashton, is one of the new, that has recently been introduced to me.  It outlines the missing 6th factor in the well established 5 Factor Model of  Personality Traits, those being Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism and Openness to Experience. It is proving to be a fascinating read. Thank you Caro for sharing this resource.

Beauty is reportedly in the eye of the beholder, but astoundingly absent when gift grabbing from the 24 hour corner store, the airport lounge or hotel lobby. Seriously, don’t bother.These half-arsed attempts shout volumes about the giver and nothing about the receiver. What about the gifts that mumble, ‘ I have no idea of who you are’ or ‘ I bought this really for myself, but I’m giving it to you ( hope you don’t mind, if I opened it?) or ‘despite the fact that we know each other for 20 plus years, I still fail to understand you’.

Bring me a simple flower, a beautiful quote, a great book that you know I will love…

I am relinquishing all that no longer brings me joy. I am not doing this alone but through the Daily Om – A Year to Clear What is Holding You Back, by Stephanie Bennett Vogt. It is available at http://www.dailyom.com

A small email will be sent to you, a quiet nudge to your consciousness to ‘slow down, simplify, sense, surrender and apply self care’ and you take action, release and repeat.

Ironically in the sorting out of my book shelves, I came across Stephanie’s book – Your Spacious Self – Clear the Clutter and Discover Who You Are. Obviously I had missed the ‘action’ pathway of the essential Four Pathways to Clearing, – Intention, Action, New Identification and Compassion’. I did however find it on one of those op shop roams.

It is only Day 9, I’ll check back in later. I’ll stop I promise if I find myself in a bare room without a chair.

 

 

 

Perhaps we all need a 12 step program?

This weekend I reconnected with a friend whom I have know since 1982, if my memory serves me. We met in an bar.  Being an Australian, this will come as no surprise.  The bar was styled in a country ‘n’ western theme.  I remember vaguely it had ‘wagon or wheels’ in the title?

My friend and I, were the purveryors of alcohol at the Menzies Hotel in Sydney. Being early 1980’s, theme bars were unique and the Menzies had over 20 of them.

I distilled my barmaid duties mainly in the Porthole, a white collar businessman’s bar that traded until 12.00 pm and after that, in the Jungle Room until the wee hours. We poured a lot of Sydney Draught, in the pursuit of enabling social lubrication.

I had planned to visit my parents who had recently relocated to Tasmania and imbued with an adventurous spirit, she travelled with me. We hitched around the Apple Isle, listening to Bette Midler on a ‘walkman’.  We were kindred spirits, our sun in Libra, both born in Year of the Buffalo, in 1961.

I moved to Perth in 1984. We  wrote letters to each other for about 12 years after, before they became sparse and then replaced with infrequent random contact via Christmas cards or the ‘out of the blue’ telephone conversation. The tenuous link, like overstretched elastic.

Long since heeding the internal voice of reason, the grown up me, is bemused, like others, by the words used to describe the  state of alcohol intoxication.  Out of the 400 I located, I offer for you consideration, the states of being:

hammered, vulcanised, twatted, pissed, fossilized, amp-faced, parcel-forced, gashed, hosed, bullocksed, motherless, cucumbered, door-nobbed, mangled, embalmed, mortal, cemented, gooned, munted, pixilated, ring-pierced, bladdered, maggoted and laminated.

None of which, beats being farchnocheket ( Yiddish).

Addiction is however no laughing matter. Before you cast judgement and that ‘stone’,  thinking that the demons of drink, drugs or gambling are not your vices, check your ego or your over work compulsion or your Pokémon Go addiction. How balanced are you?

The 12 Step program was first published in the 1939 book, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism. Founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio, in 1953 AA gave permission for Narcotics Anonymous to use its Steps and Traditions.

In summary, AA is a process of admitting lack of control, recognising a higher power that can give strength, examining past errors, making amends for these errors, learning to live a new life with a new code of behaviour and helping others who suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.

I think perhaps I have been co-chair of my own Auxiliary of Fellowship and have collected a discrete collective of members over my life. We have provided the opportunity for each other to explore the murky waters of our socialisation, confront the ghosts that will not pass into the light,  examine our moral inventory, dissect our adult choices and/or our foolish and some cases, nefarious actions. We have reviewed our personal catalogue, admitted our wrongdoings, and attempted to make amends.

Many of us pray and mediate and actively engage in a conscious connection to a higher power, God or whatever is greater than the indulgent ego.  My tribe have a well developed sense of humour after all we have been living with our idiosyncratic self for years and the mirror of our intelligent equals in the friendships that we have made.

We are all imperfect, fractured human beings. And many of us are warriors and survivors. I can too can be self obsessed and small minded. Hold your hand in the air, if you too can relate.

Open but confidential sharing of our human failings, help others recognise and admit their own. A 12 step program is not just for those of us that are swirling in the whirlpool of addiction or those who have made it to the calmer edges of the bank. It is for all of us on the active journey of self actualisation, as without deep contemplation of our human existence, what have we achieved? A collection of things?

My tribe are scattered around Australia and around the world, but the thread is not broken. We are members of an Auxiliary of Fellowship. Perhaps that is the true definition of a ‘soul mate’.

Some of us, are members of Alcoholic Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous,  Narcotics Anonymous or we are the adult children whose lives have been deeply and permanently affected and are attempting to ‘heal’ through Al-Anon, Nar-Non or CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous, which addresses compulsions related to relationships.

Some of us have no formal involvement with AA but have sought the confidential counsel of the wise, our beloved friends. There is something deeply satisfying in having friends for many decades, not in the realisation of your aging, but that you are lovable. Love is after all the only true ‘drug’ that ails the spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but is it?

 

iStock_76018069_XLARGE.jpgThumbing a lift on the super highway of information is dead easy. Almost all of us, do it on a daily basis. Jumping from website to website, snatching bits of data, comparing price and service and saving pins of other people’s ideas, for when we have a spare moment to replicate their designer lives.

When the Baby Boomers have buried their parents, a significant portion of the remaining resistance against the lithium chip revolution, will die with them. While not being one of them, I am thankful for those that prefer to live off the grid. We will need their advice, when it all goes to Hell in a handbasket, and we can’t find a working power point.

Our addiction with self expression has created what I call, ‘ identity gridlock‘. There are multiple online platforms on which to construct an identity, to register a opinion and scatter digital images like crumbs on the way to grandma’s cottage. Then there is the food revolution where zillions of meaningless photos of the food that have been consumed are posted. Seriously who cares?  Perhaps an automatic image of a malnourished child should be beamed back to you, like reality pingpong.

While the masses are fixated on watching the increasing and decreasing bum sizes of a family of lazy rich self obsessed women… Syria burns, children starve, ice melts….oh it is all too hard, isn’t it?

Most of us with social media profiles and twitter accounts, are critically reviewing our existence and are obsessively following the lives of others that we will never meet and worse still acting as if our own, are of significant interest.

My definition of friendship is frankly more than a Facebook collection of people whose path has crossed mine at some stage. I can barely do justice to the relationships that I currently invest in. I have found in reality that relationships take time and effort.

We are, as humans hardwired to make sense of our living experience and to document our individual and collective human history. We also have a deep appreciation for the art of representation in all of its varied artistic forms.

Do we need a legacy of our identity and over documented lives, for our loved ones for when we no longer physically exist?  Does the image of those that have died, now trapped in celluloid create ghosts that we can see or in print, can we now hear the voices of the dead? I’d like to think so. For that reason alone, I thought I’d create my own catalogue of ‘how to do’, for my twenty-something sons. I realised that haunting them from the grave, will have less impact, so I’ve decided against it. Another 30 second idea, shot down in flames!

Perhaps we just all seek a meaningful existence, secretly harbour the wish to live forever and think, like me that cryogenic techniques are frankly stupid science for anyone other than Trump. Let’s not wait until he is clinically dead to embalm him.

I openly admit, I am in love with language, film and photography. I apologise upfront for my lack of being able to elucidate my thoughts by using more of the expansive English language. I fall desperately short, as last count, in 2014, the English language had over one million words.

According to Global Language Monitor, there is a new word created every 98 minutes or about 14.7 words per day. Verbal currency could just be a marketer’s and parent’s nightmare and perhaps that is why new words are invented by the youth.

A recent example of a newly created marketing spin, is the blending of Paracetamol and Nurofen, Nuromol. I suggest minimum testing was undertaken in the Australian market…Want a Nuromol?  ‘What the **** u call me? You’re a mole?.’

The earliest known surviving photograph (made in a camera), was taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 or 1827. It is a grainy, midnight blue and beige image of the view from an upstairs window at Niépce’s estate, Le Gras, in the Burgundy region of France.

Time has trudged relentlessly on and brought with it an evolution in the convenience of digital photography.

I miss the original Polaroid Where magic lived.or maybe I just miss my youth? Magic seemed to just appear from out of the box. It often however, quietly faded in your photo album, unlike past fashion choices like fluorescent yellow leg warmers.

What does Gen X or Y know about the humiliation of waiting in line to pick up your photos, knowing that the creepy chemist has seen you in that crocheted white bikini or worse still, your joker boyfriend’s full frontal surprise shot? This generation only have to worry about sexting, cyber bullying, trolls and the Dark Web.  Yikes, bring back that expensive Kodak film!

We can thank Robert Cornelius for the first selfie, taken in Chestnut Street, Philadelphia in 1839. Now everyone is at it. Across the globe, duelling selfie sticks and buffed up men and whippet thin women gather in front of tourist locations to record themselves, experiencing life. Perhaps photo editing software will become a standard feature on our phones, when we can no longer travel the world?

Instagram has enabled everyone to ‘construct’ their preferred identity using imagery with a series of #sarcasm alert# descriptive hashtags.

A Gen Y woman recently reflected that ‘people were finding their identities via playing Pokémon Go’.

Call me old fashioned, but I thought that process of identity formulation, included reading and debate of philosophy, ideas and history, the development of values through discussion, friendship and socialisation and the expression of individualism through art and culture.

I digress, your choice of imagery and narrative while purposeful, perhaps is best when the life you are promoting is congruent with the #real life#, that you are living. Just saying!

Business South West – Women in Business Breakfast

I am not a 2-paver woman. Those women leave no path behind them. They own two paving stones. One they place on the ground, and holding the other aloft, they step gingerly onto the first paving stone.  They place the second paving stone on the ground and step off the first onto the second.  They then, turn around and pick up the first paving stone, while maintaining their balance on the second. Repeating the motion, they set the course through their lives, leaving no stones behind.

I am a woman who will fashion stones from what I have, gather others to make new paths, secure funding to build sustainable paths over rocky ground, and then invite others to use the path as a shortcut to their destination.

If I have the opportunity to meet creative, inspiring and motivated women who are courageously forging their own identity in the pursuit of meaning and economic independence, then count me in!

Thank you to Business South West for providing just that opportunity by inviting me to speak at the Women in Business Networking Breakfast this week.

photo Robert Frost

Speaking about one’s journey can be a confronting experience.  Let’s examine the challenge. From the approximately 20,000 hours that I have lived, my remit was to identify salient life experiences that would be inspirational to other women in business. Wrap that in framework of useable strategies and deliver it in under an hour. Thank you for the positive feedback that you gave me, and I believe I achieved that goal.

My ode to Robert Frost’s ‘Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood’,  and the brief introduction of the work of Scott Peck, outlined in his first book, title ‘The Road Less Travelled – New psychology of love, traditional values and spiritual growth’, was to provide a framework for what I consider the most essential tool for life success, emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is not a ‘soft skill’ as it has been begrudgingly referred to, but rather when applied, provides the essential framework of any business, which relies on human capacity for enterprise, productivity and profit.

I truly believe, to build effective relationships and create a transformative work culture of excellence, it requires leading with integrity and living a life congruent with your values.

Scott Peck’s community building stages replicate the ‘forming, storming, norming, performing, transforming’ organisational theory. The core message is the need to connect with others, to truly understand them and act with responsibity to enable, enrich and extend their human capacity and in doing so, secure your own growth in actualisation. (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs)

Below are some of my lessons that I have learnt throughout my career:

  • lead with integrity – understand the role and the responsibility of leadership
  • know yourself and your team – values, intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, personality, abilities, challenges, areas for improvement
  • set realistic boundaries for yourself regarding achievement – know when to say ‘no’
  • communicate with others with intent for it is  your intent that will govern the outcome of any interaction
  • create an adult workspace and a separate social space for fun
  • promote a no blame /no shame culture
  • ensure there is no gossip and no bitching  (you set the culture by your own actions, if you behave this way, you set the ‘green light’
  • admit that you don’t have all the answers and ask for creative input  ( show your human fragility)
  • develop emotional intelligence or hire people to have well developed emotional intelligence to build your strategic relationships for you
  • acknowledge the role of team members (individually and team) – positive feedback, praise, reward and recognition
  • tackle the difficult ( performance management)

If you asked a man to live the life that many women accept as the ‘norm’, including the juggle of work and day care, developing enterprise and innovation, endless demands of 24/ 7 parenting, shared or total economic responsibility, the maintenance of  effective friendships and intimate relationships, most men would laugh in your face or tell you where you can shove that ridiculous and unrealistic expectation!

But still women think they should.

Is this really good for our sustained health and wellbeing? I’d argue not…

You can have it all, but not at the same time…..

Along the road less travelled,  I learnt that lesson the hard way.


 

 

The politics of dancing

Prom night is over, so why is that nauseating loud ‘duff duff’ music still playing?  Wasn’t eight weeks enough?

Australians have had a long love affair with voting and dancing and a staunch colonial commitment to ‘keeping the bastards’ honest.

We have been witnessing the ‘age of entitlement’ that many politicians have secured for themselves and their families. The same ‘entitlement’ that they have sought to remove from the ‘common folk’.   The politics of dancing, requires subtle moves, well executed with razor sharp precision. Is that ELO that I hear?

Despite this, some of us have voted for representatives, with some questionable dance moves.

Haven’t we learnt from electing a jerky, pogo jumping,  Midnight Oil front man, who was at odds with the polished moves of privilege within the chamber?

Each politician takes their turn on the fluorescent checkboard floor of parliament and trips the light fantastic, or may not?

There are some deeply questionable people who have secured a hall pass into parliament.  So into the ballroom of political debate,  we have added to the mix, Pauline Hanson, Derryn Hinch, Bob Katter, Nick Xenophon and Jackie Lambie.

There will be tight white pants strutting, strung pearls whipping and aggressive groin posturing until the final vote count has been completed.  There may be a little flirtatious gun action from Bob, a sulk in the corner from the ‘human headline’,  a soap box presentation from Pauline and spontaneous karaoke by Nick, who we know by now, can hold a pretty convincing tune.

There will be old torn leather, tight in all the wrong places, head thrusting, arms flaying and fists punching the air in a rock and roll salute to ‘ Tassie’s lost hope and dreams’. Way to go, Jackie!

Personally I would have liked a short clip on their moves, before voting. There is something profoundly revealing about a dancefloor.

Is the ‘shemale’, just a mean girl in heels?

Emotional intelligence in action is a powerful skill. At the heart of the intent, lies the desire to empower, enrich and enable another human being by effectively responding to their emotional states.

Feminism, in its simplest definition can be described as the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes. From 13th century, Helen of Anjou, a Serbian queen who established women’s schools to the work of Maybanke Anderson born in 1845 who championed the Australian rights of women and children, and to the heady protests of Germaine Greer, women have united so that their collective voice can be heard.  But where has our commitment to ‘sisterhood gone’?  Is it just ‘tokenism’ morphed into a boozy girl’s night out?

Be assured the howling that you hear is not the wind.

What impact does an emotionally stunted or Machiavellian boss have on your health?  A great deal it seems. In female dominated industries that detrimental boss is more likely to be a woman.  My mother spoke of a nursing matron that breathed fire and condemmed many a eager nurse to languish behind a cosmetic counter.

I have recently heard recount of a similar style of management within the teaching profession in the private secondary school sector. The stunning response to a reasonable request for a larger classroom, was that the height of the teacher made the room appear smaller! Time for that particular women to look deeply into the looking glass, though perhaps she is already in  love with her reflection!

Have the ‘mean girls’ from the playground shifted to become the ‘shemales’ in positions of  power? Have heels, replaced the power shoulders of the 1980’s and become the elevated  platform supporting  female bullies?

According to Harvard Medical Schools, Jonathan D Quick, ‘ the evidence is clear that leadership qualities of ‘bad’ bosses of either gender, over time exerts a heavy toll on employees’ health’.

The feminist is me, is deeply disappointed when a female leader adopts Machiavellian behaviour. Despite all rationale and antiquated excuses,  that nasty bitch is simply a workplace bully! There are many of us who can attest to the impact of such women in our workplaces especially in roles that embody position, status and power. Machiavellianism lies at the core of workplace bullying.

So let’s unpack this a little further.

Emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) is the capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour. Although the term first appeared in a 1964 paper by Michael Beldoch, it gained popularity in 1995, in a publication of the same title, written by the author, psychologist and science journalist, Daniel Goleman. Studies have shown that people with high EI have greater mental health, job performance and leadership skills.

It could be assumed that Renaissance diplomat and writer, Niccolo Machiavelli, had high emotional intelligence, however this is not supported by research conducted in the 1960’s by Richard Christie and Florence L Geis. They concluded that Machiavellian behaviours are associated with low emotional intelligence and low emotional recognition and bear no significance to cognitive ability.    The Prince ( II Principe) , written by Machiavelli,  advocates the use of dark arts of manipulation, lies and deception. Machiavelli  promoted not just the disabling of his perceived opponents,  but the destruction of them.  There is no place for morality, ethics, compassion or kindness in Machiavellianism.

Machiavellianism is but one, of the ‘dark triad’ of personalities. The other two very ugly siblings, include, narcissism and psychopathy. Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism and a lack of empathy. Psychopathy is characterised by enduring anti-social behaviour, impulsivity, cold selfishness, callousness and remorselessness. The reference of ‘dark’ implies these traits have a malevolent quality and when they are being wielded, the impact upon another person’s mental health and physical wellbeing is measurable.

Machiavellian behaviour is characterized by a duplicitous interpersonal style, cynical disregard for morality and a focus on self-interest and personal gain. Scoring high on the Mach IV test, are those individuals who  show a high priority to money, power and competition and a low priority to community building, self love and family concerns. All three dark triad traits are conceptually distinct although empirical evidence shows them to be overlapping.

Machiavellians exploit others to advance their perceived personal agendas but they are not classified as having a mental health condition.  They do not have a personality disorder, schizophrenia and neither are they psychopaths. However some Machiavellians demonstrate psychopathic behaviours.

The following are the guiding principles of Machiavellianism:

  • Never show humility
  • Arrogance is far more effective when dealing with others
  • Morality and ethics are for the weak  ( Powerful people feel free to lie, cheat and deceive others when it suits them)
  • It is much better to be feared than loved

High Machiavellians may be expected to do the following:

  • Neglect to share important information – exclusion
  • Find subtle ways of making another person look bad to management – undermining
  • Spread false rumors about another person – character assassination

Research on the dark triad is used in applied psychology,  especially within the fields of law enforcement, clinical psychology and business management. People scoring high on these traits are more likely to commit crimes, cause social distress and create severe problems for an organisation, especially if they are in a leadership position.

So what do you do?

Bad bosses are immune to their weaknesses as the core of this rotten Machiavellian behaviour is arrogance. The best advice is to disengage and to seek workplaces that are led by people who seek to enable, empower and enrich  others and who have leaders that are emotionally connected and genuinely care.

I believe it is far better to be loved than to be feared. This was perhaps unrealised  for Niccolo Machiavelli which led him to his cold heart and cruel behaviour.

Let’s hope it is not too late for the ‘shemales’ to metamorphosis into fully engaged and connected 21th century females that we can all be proud to know, work alongside and claim as ‘sisters’. Until then, best avoid the nasty bitches!

Before Miley

‘Yes, I have had a wonderful life, so far’, I heard myself warmly respond to a statement about my prodigious professional career.  I caught myself thinking that my answer was somewhat off mark. In truth my motivation has always been ‘the work’ or ‘service for others’. Power and status have been the rewards, but the cost of keeping an ego in check and dancing with company that I would rather not has tipped the scales in the negative.

I am left wondering if the wild child from the 1980’s is still alive and kicking? Or has she been beaten into submission by the cold fingers of reality?

What will my resume serve after my earthly penance is done? It is not exactly a ‘dead sea’ scroll but rather a record of over-achievement and personal sacrifice, often at too high a price.

Many of us are masters of disguise. Who among us is truly living how they imagined for themselves in their adolescent daydreaming?

So cheers to the 22 year old me, who was not afraid to tell others to ‘piss off’ and poke her tongue at the status quo. I have learnt to use my words however adult decorum and political correctness has ruined a structurally superior response.

 

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