It may be 4 days into 2018, but I’m hoping I’m still in the window to reflect on the year that was…before I launch too far into 2018. Last year I did an original ‘16 in 2016‘ and because I’m super lazy again, and this is largely for my own benefit, I’m going to do, wait for it, 17 reflections on 2017 – in no specific order. 1. Exploring Australia + New Zealand If there was any doubt where my cash went this year, the 26 flights might have something to do with it. I managed, 22 within Australia + 4 to/from New Zealand. Scrolling through Insta was fun to relive the adventures and I am constantly amazed at the diversity of the land bestowed to us. Despite having a country the size of all of Europe, Australians do a terrible job of exploring our own backyard. And that I did in 2017. (…and because my sister moved across the ditch, it got a couple of visits too.) Quick calculation of nights away = 52 January: Surfers Paradise (3), Melbourne (2) February: Sydney (3) March: Sydney (2) April: Sydney (5) May: Noosa (2) June: Rockhampton/Yeppoon (1), Mackay (2) July: Forster (4), Sydney (1), Queenstown (5) August: Sydney (5) September: October: Outback Queensland (3), Auckland (3), Sydney (1) November: December: Sydney (10) 2. Half Marathon A 2017 goal, I ticked this bad boy off in May up in Noosa. A minute shy of my sub-2 goal, alas. Never a runner, I would never thought running 21km would be achievable, let alone enjoyable. 3. Injury Unfortunately much of this year was juggling shin splints that progressed to stress fractures and continue to haunt me. It wasn’t until I couldn’t run that I realised how much I enjoyed it…and needed it to run out + process life. I accrued a nice physio bill…but, Mr Turnbull, still remain cost neutral without private health insurance. 4. Swimming + Cycling I swam laps of a pool for the first time in a decade, and the only time outside of my largely participatory efforts at school swimming carnivals. I’ve got a long way to go, but it’s strangely relaxing…amongst the overwhelming feeling of drowning from exhaustion mid-lap. I bought Laura’s bike and learnt to ride a road bike. After running, you can get so far on a bike over the same time! 5. Loss + loneliness I said goodbye to my last grandparent in April – my grandpa who was weeks shy of his 90th. I said goodbye to friends + family who moved away. I had a number of periods of sheer loneliness that took me by surprise. 6. New home After a few months of anxiety, I moved out and made a place of my own – possibly the best decision I made last year. I love my little apartment – it’ll be sad to say goodbye! 7. Insecurity Big girl pants were necessary on a number of occasions as I negotiated contract extensions and overcome a significant moment of job insecurity. 8. Tears Despite popular opinion, I can report the tear ducts are still functioning. The stone-hearted girl broke out in tears a number of times fare-welling Grandpa and, a first, late one night reading ‘Still Alice’. 9. Reading fail Aiming to read 17 books was an epic fail. I shamefully managed to complete very few… Big little lies, Liane Morriety Still Alice, Lisa Genova Dreams of my father, Barack Obama The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simpson The Girl from Aleppo, Nujeen Mustafa In progress: Mere Christianity, CS Lewis Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis Option B, Sheryl Sandberg Prayer, Tim Keller 1984, George Orwell Buyology, Martin Lindstrom Nudge, Richard Thaler + Cass Sunsteen Thrive, Ariana Huffington 10. Netflix + Movies This list is way too long to list and directly contributed to the above reading failure…although I’m glad 3 Australian movies made it on my list this year. 11. Buying local and less Although challenging to track, I aspired to shop from local stores and markets wear possible. There were pockets were i slipped back to my online ways, particularly in the lead to Christmas. But by the very nature of avoiding chain stores, I bought much less…particularly clothing (except Marcs) 12. Leaving church “I’m thinking about leaving church.” I had way too many of conversations that started with this line last year, from the valid to the hurtful. Leaving church isn’t easy for anyone – the person leaving nor the people left behind. Unfortunately I found myself exhausted for various periods challenging and/or encouraging friends I’m at church with and others at various others through the process. (Don’t get me wrong, there are very valid reasons to leave churches, but also some lazy reasons too). 13. Gym Yes, this anti-gym evangelist i-hate-commercialised-exercise joined a gym. It was was time to build strength after completing my half marathon in hope of a ripped back and toned arms… yet to be seen. (As are any pull-ups.) 14. Mel + animals. A gallery. Cute animals, it’ll win every time…or just a photo of someone so completely terrified that it’s hilarious. Instagram was proof.    15. Answered prayer Ask me and I’ll happily share. From healing to housemates, jobs to joy. 16. 17. New adventures Although a mic-drop was contemplated back in September when the paperwork came through, I’m looking forward to new adventures in 2018. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Like most, I can take a bit of disruption (actually probably a lot). I can usually cope quite fine when my Uber driver forgets to end the ride and I need to remedy the overcharge. Or the late fee email notification from Telstra when I have a receipt from paying 2 weeks earlier. Or even the extra ‘housemate’ taking up residence in my house. Combine those things, no dramas. But then an unexpected delivery truck of anxiety, frustration and sheer anger pulled up and dumped it in my lap on Friday 4pm. And then I woke up to the news of the tragic death of a guy from home to make me stop and put things into perspective. Cue complete ignorance of my ‘don’t drink to feel better, drink to feel even better’ proverb, a few nights of broken sleep and total impatience ensued. At work I lacked motivation and struggled to concentrate. It was time to do something. Last night I texted my manager. My request was not unexpected and swiftly granted. I am thankful I work in a supportive environment where I can be honest. I give 110% at work. I don’t have performance issues (unless it’s over-performance?). I have taken 5 days of sick leave in 2 years – 4 for my wisdom teeth extraction. I take annual leave regularly. I consider my mental wellness to be good and stable. But following recent events I needed a day to stop, reset and recharge in order to give at that same level again. Why am I being so transparent? Beyond Blue recently found 1 in 5 Australian workers took time off last year because of mental health issues, although the reported reason for the leave is considerably underreported. Where workplaces and management were supportive of mental health, self-reported absentee-ism halved. That is – employees took less time off because of the positive perceptions of mental health and physical safety and no surprise, reported higher respect from colleagues and increased productivity. Unless Jesus returns sooner, I anticipate I’ll work until about my mid 60s, putting me at about 10-15% through my career. And when I look around at people in similar stages of their careers, across many industries, I see exhaustion. I see a pathway to burnout. I hear of 7am starts and 10pm finishes. Being ‘busy’ is worn as badge of honour. I aspire to a career of nurturing people and seeing people be constructive members of society. I’ll be working until close to 2050 and I hope in that time Australia sees a dramatic decrease in the current 3 million adults with depression and anxiety. Gen Y’s are regularly tormented for silver platter syndrome, so please I welcome your thrown stones. I accept many gone before me have worked incredibly hard in awful conditions. But we’re now living in 2017 when this can be changed. A time when mental illness should not be stigmatised.  Managers need to model responsible mental health. Employees should not fear showing weakness or falsify a physical illness instead. We have the opportunity to reshape mental wellness in the workplace and self-care overall. With haste, I sent off a pretty pointed email on Friday night. Amongst other things, and after some consideration, I pleaded with my organisation to not deliver bad news on a Friday again. Most organisations have no idea of the other concerns of their employees. (Unless you’re my colleagues and you have a pretty good idea because *arm up high* classic verbal processor and chronic over-sharer right here.) Sending an employee home into the weekend devastated could end in tragedy. For example, redundancies are best done on a Tuesday and if done on a Friday should be considered sheer negligence. (Correction: Sorry folks for leading you astray, I was not made redundant! Just using that as the extreme example). However back to today. What did this mental health day entail? A sleep in, baking, an hour stretching (leg day yesterday) over episodes of Utopia and then a few hours in the sun exploring a new area of Brisbane on my new set of wheels. All things that I enjoy. All things that enabled me to de-stress and reset – literally, thanks endorphins. And then because I think it’s the best treatment, I spent time reflecting and praying. I also went to listen to a podcast on Romans 3 from a local church but failed (don’t podcast + drive) and ended up with 40mins on a brilliant section of Romans 8. Verses 18 through 30 of which extracting one verse for this post was impossible. Australians are great at the olde ‘sickie’, and to the outsider my day looked exactly like that – an absolute cop out. We can’t abuse the privilege of improved working conditions. I know what gets me back from the brink – sunshine + water + exercise, but perhaps you’re best at home on couch, or chatting to a professional. Either way I felt a little odd explaining to my housemate why I was home early, and then to a weekly group of my church community.  But I know and I know my manager knows that the one lost day of my productivity will pay dividends to my current projects thanks to today’s rejuvenation. Don’t be ashamed. Ask for a day, or if it’s beyond that, talk about it and find a solution. And if a recruitment agent calls you wondering if you’re interested in a role during the mental health day, laugh – it’s good for the soul. Not even kidding, if I wasn’t stopped already the coincidence of it may have knocked me off my bike. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Life is full of seasons. You enjoy many of the same for a long while and then you hit your twenties and it starts to change. People get married. People buy houses. People have kids. Me? I chose to run move away. My friends? My Instagram feed is evidence enough: weddings + babies…or those delaying either/or = travel. I had a bit of a crew through my late-teens and early 20s. I was innocent, overconfident and opinionated. They were good to me (read:patient). But most were Christians and so they married young…and then bought houses. We had a place to hang out. Win! But two years ago, just before I was drawn in to the (sun)light, the first couple had an adorable baby. And in the two years I’ve been gone, the procreation has continued. Last week I spent a few days with 6 married couples and 4 babies under 2 (+ few extras). I abandoned plans to travel to Scandinavia ($15k on travel in 12 months is probably a bit too much) and instead took annual leave to spend time with 15 adults + 4 children + 1 teenager under 1 roof. And it wasn’t that chaotic. Although some things have changed. Because holidays (including those involving 2000km) = thinking time, and my friends love to feature in my little corner of the inter webs… here’s my not so comprehensive list of what happens when your friends have kids. New titles. Everyone becomes an Aunty or Uncle. You ignore your friends and greet their miniature humans first. Detailed bowel movement discussions. Birth stories. “Is that yours or mine?” is not referring to a mobile phone but baby monitor. You see the traits/personalities of your friends in minature form Movies are turned off half way. Surprisingly even babies can discern Jurassic Park isn’t as rosy the Peppa Pig farmyard. Noise travels. Noise matters. Driveways are filled with soccer mum mini SUVs instead of mum’s old, hand-me-down dinged early 2000s hatchbacks P plates parks are now pram park ups An afternoon where all 4 children were asleep at once was like all the planets aligning in a once-in-century occasion PDA is everpresent in kisses, hugs and sniffing nappies. You see patience in practice. Discipline in action. You get endless cuddles but freedom to hand them back when they poop, scream or fight you off. You’re watching who’s drinking to see who’s preggers on the sly. Baby line ups are mandatory. Along with ridiculous attempts to get all children looking remotely in the direction of the camera. Time schedules are fluid. Departures can be timed to either keep the baby awake, but also to ensure the baby sleeps. “How did you sleep?” will be answered as if this were the question: “how did <insert child’s name> sleep?” Did you say Wiggles? Yep, kid tunes reign. Of course they could most certainly comment on the child-less life too. I willingly woke early to exercise. I enjoy abs still joined at the centre. And my car was sans extensive miniature person paraphernalia. Moving away isn’t the easiest. I’ve missed pretty much all the baby showers, first birthdays, dedications etc – often by only a week. And being the single, childless one is often the topic of discussion (It took a grand total of 3.5 hours before I was asked about my dating life). The above is a list of largely funny takeouts from a relaxing week away. But really it’s a privilege to see my friends turn into parents. Life is best done together. I took joy recieving a face covered of saliva care of new raspberry blowing skills. And they enjoyed the extra set of hands. The village life. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Today would have been my Grandpa’s 90th birthday. As a kid I thought my grandpa would live forever, perhaps not forever, but his death seemed a long way off. He worked as a doctor until he was 80, travelled to Thailand twice during his final decade, drove across Sydney for committee meetings and chauffeuring his friends to doctor’s appointments, he dabbled in Facebook and ensured he always had a working printer so he could (first print, then) read his emails. He was invincible to me, as a child and then as an adult. As he neared the milestone, we started thinking about how we could celebrate such an occasion. Unfortunately we celebrated his life a few weeks ago at a thanksgiving service, without him. It’s a shame all those who came gathered in his absence, what a joy it would have been for him to have everyone in one place. It’s widely known I’m not a feelings person, but truth is I am. I am just absolutely terrible at expressing and processing them, so supressing them is just the easier option. This afternoon I listened to a recording my cousin made of one of his last conversations with Grandpa. I had had it for almost 6 weeks, but I wasn’t ready to hear his voice, his laugh. It was hard to listen to. I’m thankful I live in a suburb people regularly walk the streets with an absent mind. Listening to Grandpa speak about this life on the recording, and hearing others speak of his life at his thanksgiving service (and the recording we’ve been pulling together), I look up to him. I place him on a Philippians 2 pedestal, one of his favourite passages of scripture. In his 70-year medical career, 15 years in the Thai mission field, and then near 60 years as a Father and near 30 as a Grandfather, he exemplified humility and gentleness. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests by each of you to the interests of others.” As I child I remember his devotion to the Word, reading it in bed before he rose for the day. His affection for my Grandmother was evident in each reference to her as “Darling” (even when expressed in haste). He watched sporting games, sat through countless awards ceremonies and graduations. He was the calm spirit standing on the edge of the room, looking and befriending the outsider. He gave Christmas gifts to the one who was forgotten. I wonder if I got any part of his genes, knowing full well I got an overdose of initiative and tenacity from my paternal grandmother. Reflecting on his life make me reflect on my own, although I have not reached even a third of the length walked this earth for. But I also see the peril in placing Grandpa on such a pedestal. And I know he would loathe such a thing. In the recording he went so far as to share a story of how he wasn’t supposed to get into Sydney Uni’s medical school. The rules changed and and extra 150 students snuck in without meeting the minimum requirements. He also shared he would have failed his gynaecology exam, should not a fellow student had told him answer as they passed in the hallways prior to the exam. He admitted he wasn’t good enough. I also know from my own father their relationship wasn’t perfect. He was a flawed man, like us all, but he has now been made perfect in Christ. Grandpa is now with Jesus in the highest place. Although he lived nearly 90 years on this earth, what feels like eternity for a even me at 26, he is now truly living eternally. I’m thankful we have the recording, as hard as it was to hear his laugh knowing he’s no longer here. I’m sad I didn’t take time to ask more questions. How comforting it was hear him breakdown as he shared the love, peace and joy found in the Spirit. One of the last times I saw Grandpa I had flown to Sydney on a whim. I sat in his hospital room while he slept. Eventually it came time to leave. Although plagued with delusion in his final days, he broke free from it to pass on the ‘Lord’s travelling mercies’ before apologising: “I’m sorry I wasn’t better company”. Grandpa, you were wonderful company. Happy (earthly) birthday, but what a wonderful everlasting life I know you’re now enjoying. At his thanksgiving service last month, I said the following prayer on behalf of his 17 grandchildren. I stand by it. Heavenly father, We give you great thanks that you are good and your love endures forever. Thank you for giving life to your son and our grandfather Arthur and your grace and mercy shown to him at the cross. Thank you that as we remember the life he had here and give thanks, we know he is now home and at rest with you. We know the love of you as our Heavenly Father from the example he was to us. As young ones we knew love from endless supplies of ice cream and sausages in summer and a forgiving spirit when more water was outside the swimming pool than in. As adults we remember his wit, but also his wisdom shared and constant support for our endeavours. We remember and give thanks for his humility and faithfulness. A man of prayer and devotion – he was always quick to share his indebtedness to you and your blessings on his life with us. Thank you for your spirit at work in his heart. Many of us are now embarking on our own adventures of marriage. We thank you for the 50-plus years of love and sacrifice Grandpa showed our Grandma, particularly in her final years of illness. In times of struggle and pain, he loved her in everyway – with patience and gentleness. We praise you for the steadfast love and generosity he had and the model it was for us. As we now grieve the loss of his gentle and witty presence with us, we turn our eyes to Jesus, the one his life pointed to. Grandpa is now free from pain and spared from the brokenness of this world. Thank you for holding him in your care for nearly 90 years. But while we remember, love and give thanks for the faithful man he was, we acknowledge he was not perfect but made perfect in your son, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. We have joy that he is now at home in your presence because he sought after you. We look forward to the day when the world would be made new and those who call upon your Son’s name will be saved. We long for Jesus to return to make all things new and to be reunited with our Grandfather but ultimately you, our heavenly father. To you be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.           Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
I received 6 years of public school education, 7 years of private school education and 5 years of tertiary education. I hold a degree from one of Australia’s most prestigious universities, paid for by partially scholarships and the remaining with government loans. I chose to start working casually at 16 and I had a fulltime job within a week of graduating university. I am paid on par with my male colleagues and I have access, should I need it, to a range of paid leave. I have requested and received pay increases and I negotiated my pay when I started my current role. I walk past the homeless on my walk home to my clean, spacious apartment in a safe neighbourhood. I worship my God and Saviour Jesus without any fear each week. I have access to subsidised healthcare and the ability to pay for it when my largely healthy body fails me. I could go on. So why do I care about International Women’s Day? Because although the taste of inequality or the voices that I hear to combat it pale in comparison to other women in Australia and around the world, it’s a taste nonetheless. Inequality as a privileged white woman:   From a well-meaning housemate: “You really shouldn’t run that late, particularly around that area. You know what happened [at that bridge], right?” From the guy walking passed me on the street: “Hey, why so sad? You’re beautiful. Smile for me. I’ll make it worth your while.” From the book on my bookshelf and from the stage at conferences: “Don’t let the first salary offer be the one you take. Challenge it. Ask for a rise when you think you add more value to the company than you’re currently receiving in your pay packet.” From the conservative church: “We’d love your help on this…Great idea, please allow us [men] to take it from here.” From the tech in travel conference website: *List of 40 names, 36 men, 4 women* Inequality in Australia and the world: While I’ve experienced ‘cat calls’ and uninvited propositions, the reality is there was a 25% chance one of the women I sat beside in classes at university would be sexually assaulted, harassed or receive unwanted behaviour while studying. But statistically, if she tragically experienced it and courageously reported it, she’d join a whopping <1.5%. Outside those sandstone walls, we have women sexually assaulted in their homes and women forced into prostitution. (2016, The University of Sydney) While I receive equal pay thanks to enterprise bargaining, I share a house with a woman in a very similar role + industry who does not. Queensland women receive 16% less than men as an average of weekly earnings (2017, Workplace Gender Equality Agency). Globally, women are disproportionally represented in low-paying, insecure and undervalued household work (2015, UN Women) While I have the luxury to work in an professional field with a high proportion women, I live in a country where the proportion of women in management drops from 37% in any management role to 16.3% in the C-suite (2015, AFR). Should we jump across to our political scene, women make up only 29% of Australian parliaments (2015, The Guardian). Globally? 23%. (2016, World Bank) While I have a pastor who is willing to boldly speak up for change in the church and society, the Christian church has historically upheld patriarchal structures in their attempt to interpret and practice scripture. It is not uncommon for Australian churches to have little to no women involved in church services or have paid roles within the church at large. Outside Australia and the Christian faith, women are taught to practice more faith-based gender protocols than men. Women are segregated during religious services, restricted from entering particular places of worship or perhaps during menstruation, and unable to take up leadership or instructing roles. Further, practices, largely taught and regulated by men of faith, can involve physical mutilation, non-consensual youth marriage or excommunication for failing to adhere to discriminatory gender-specific teachings. So despite being a privileged white woman, and knowing it’s not just about me, I’m motivated and passionate about this singular day and on the 364 that follow it. Men and women are all made in the image of God and intricately different from each other. However discrimination, harassment and inequality continues to prevail. Today is public reminder of my privilege and reminder to be bold for change.