A couple of weeks ago I was cycling around Vancouver when I pulled over at the entrance to a regional park info board to decide if I’d keep going or turn back. While pulled over a man wandered over and asked where we were on the map and how far you could walk. Having just looked at the map, and me being me, I gave him to full run down of the path system and, when asked, included estimated distances. “You must live around here then,” he said. “Yes, I suppose I do.” And then another day I was standing on a street corner downtown and a lady approached me looking for some directions. I didn’t know the answer immediately and although I could have pulled out my phone and worked it out for her, I responded: “Sorry, I’m not from around here.” It’s been 100 days since I’ve been back in Vancouver (YVR). It doesn’t feel quite like home yet but I also don’t know what the alternative is. So ‘home’ it has become. HOME After housesitting (and getting to know my some now very dear to me family) in North Vancouver, they helped me move into an apartment in the suburb of Kitsilano at the beginning of September. After warnings of bed bugs, the gloom of basement suites and reality of a <0.5% vacancy rate, I ended up in the first and only apartment I looked at. I prayed God would make it clear where I should live, and I’m thankful for this little abode until the end of January. (On a side note, I’m pretty certain my born and raised BC-housemate is the only Canadian around. The cafes and beach are full of Australians, Irish and Brits with a scattering of Kiwis and South American’s for good measure. We’re the only ones stupid enough to pay the exorbitant rent.) CHURCH You may remember I did a very strenuous search for churches when moving to Brisbane. I took those learnings and renewed prayers for wisdom and discernment into my new search. The process was made a little faster in YVR because of the sad truth that it’s a very dark city. Spiritual, yes. Christian, no. Despite my passive aversion for the denomination, I found a new-ish Anglican church St Pete’s Fireside meeting in the University of British Columbia’s downtown campus. The liturgy takes me back to my childhood church memories, but the teaching, community, music, evangelistic approach and strategy is right up my alley. Although the liturgy is a shock, I’m praying God changes my heart to see its beauty. I’m coming around. FRIENDS It’s often joked making friends was easier when we were Kindergarteners in the school playground. You walked straight up to someone or a group and started playing. 20+ years on I think the only difference is an increased sense of self-awareness. It’s walking across a room, it’s asking for someone’s number, it’s texting them and asking if they want to catch up. It’s actually a lot like dating… I boldly invited myself on a whale watching adventure which gifted me a friend soon to live 3 blocks from me. I’ve great times eating ice cream, hiking, paddling and even suffered through a few Saturday morning headaches. I’ve made several others and starting to get a little crew together. I’m hoping work will help soon. And my plans to join the local netball team were hindered from a certain broken metatarsal. WORK While I could financially continue this lady of leisure life into 2019, I started to long for structure, routine and a sense of productivity. It’s been a privilege to enjoy this season. It’s also been a lesson in patience. It’s been pretty anxiety-ridden but really it’s been 8 weeks. Job hunting (and apparently dating too…) is about the numbers. From 20 applications I had 6 phone interviews which progressed to 3 in-person interviews (I withdrew from one) and 2 job offers – a pretty good conversion rate. I accepted a job a my dream company in this past week and now I’ve had all the necessary ‘dodgy foreigner’ checks, I start this coming week! DATING Because why not do everything at once…I decided to throw in some casual (?) dating into the mix. I’m in awe of anyone who can manage multiple dates in a week, (KBH I’m looking at you!), I have managed 4 in 3 months with another lined up for next week. Write me direct and I’ll share the fun bits. These first 100 days have been characterised by a deepened love of mountains, the pain of a stupidly broken toe and the rollercoaster ride of finding work. I said before I left, life is best lived on the edge of our comfort zone. And that’s exactly what life in Vancouver has become. It has little structure and even less certainty. But throughout I’ve found myself drawing closer to God, or when I haven’t, running back when I realise I was relying on my own strengths. 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)
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)
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.
  Twelve months on and I’m in exactly the same place I was last year – a Surfers Paradise beachfront apartment. I’m even with the same four friends. We are again front and centre for the New Year fireworks. But although I’m physically in the same place, a year on I’m very much in a different place to where I was last year. 2015 was a tough year. But 2016 has been a year of restoration. It was also year of new friendships, adventures and learning. Here’s to the year that was: 1. A newfound love of dancing I was the girl who sat on the outskirts of the room as soon as the dancing began. But this year, I decided I didn’t care what I looked like I was going to enjoy dancing. And like that, I now do. The Melanie of 2015 would not have danced the night away in a Cuban Government run bar in rural Vinales with two sweaty, hands-y Cuban men with gorgeous blue eyes that melted my heart. 2. A nostalgia for my long locks but the excitement of short hair Oh how lovely it was…10% of the time. 3. A love of running Two years ago I couldn’t run 2km, but this year I ran 14km (on a swollen bruised ankle because I wasn’t giving up!). I push myself to get to a weekly community running group and once there I’m pushed to keep running. The burn of my legs is soon forgotten on reflection and achievement of the distance they’ve carried me. 4. A Growth Group who point each other to Jesus We become a conglomerate of the people we hang out with and I’m thankful for my gospel-focussed community. Over delicious food and vino, we’ve talked pride, elections, sex, and supported each other through illness, homesickness, death, farewells and welcome together. Thank you for pointing me to the grace and hope found in Christ. 5. A new church I arrived at Creek Road with a pretty rocky foundation and trust in ‘church’. But this year, through transparent and empowering pastors and persistent prayer, by grace the brokenness and hurt is healed. I look forward to church. 6. New friends New friendships formed over mutual love of TV shows + good food + wine (Did I hear you say ‘Tapas and Tequila Tuesday?’) 7. A patience with professional work I had 4 managers in 2016. I also had 9 team members in my immediate 3-4 person team. Change is constant and with patience and persistence I’ve learnt to push myself forward, learning from all those around me – whoever it is. Work life is a jungle gym and it’s the adventure and the challenge climbing it that brings contentment. 8. Appreciation for solo time (but still a craving for people) A perfect Friday night is either drinking and laughing with friends at a great bar in town or enjoying a glass of vino on the couch watching Netflix. I enjoy both equally and I have no qualms choosing one over the other. I’ve come to enjoy the small moments of solitude. 9. My family history In May I visited Bundaberg and toured my great, great grandparents house. I later started reading my family history book going back to the 18th Century. Through trials and successes, generations have gone forward putting Christ at the centre of their lives. However, it also served as a reminder for how quickly a generation can slip from the faith and serve their own interests. 10. Friendship with sisters For the first time in five years, Jen was in the same city as me. Weekend BBQs, Monday night netball, shopping adventures. As for Laura, we enjoyed another negative temperature snuggle session in Jindy and wrestling matches that now end with me begging for mercy. 11. The rejuvenation of weekend adventures Until October, it has been 1.5 years since I’d had more than 3 days away (a week off for the rite of passage: wisdom teeth doesn’t count). Here’s to weekends at Cabarita Beach, Straddie, Rainbow Beach, Kangaroo Valley, Bundaberg, Lady Musgrave Island, Perisher, Springbrook NP, Lamington NP, Tamborine NP, Glasshouse Mountains, Gold Coast. 12. BNE visitors Shout out to Lanes + Sutherlands, Lisa, Rachel + Lydia, USYD gang, Kelsey, Laura, Anna, Ashleigh for visiting. 13. Home? I drove home from 2 weeks in Sydney this week. It had been 6 months since I’d visited and I longed for it. But visiting and then driving back, I’ve realised Sydney doesn’t feel like home anymore. But I’m not sure Brisbane is yet either? 14. World travels  “Why Cuba?” they asked. “Be safe,” they said. “Why not?” I said. “How much,” I didn’t ask. It was an expensive holiday, but it’s a huge reward to plan, save, book and then escape to a far away land. And Cuba, well it’s just a fascinating place. As for Mexico, take me back. Tomorrow. 15. Dyson There’s a point in life when you realise you’re getting old. That moment for me has come. In addition to my growing family of kitchen appliances, washing machine and a comfortable (brand) new couch, I really want a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Preferably one of those stand up cordless ones. 16. “So I guess we’ll be in touch” Thanks to 2016 I have learnt some good ways and some bad ways to end a first date. And “So I guess we’ll be in touch” is not favourable. And with that, and the Tweed Heads fireworks in the background #daylightsavings, I say thank you and good bye 2016!     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)
Hamish Blake made a little Flipagram of his wife Zoe Foster Blake and the literal+figurative hats she regularly wears. Spotify suggested some female artist playlists I may be interested in. Virgin Australia ‘grammed an all women crew who recently flew Sydney-Adelaide. David Jones launched a new ‘At the DJ table’ video content series “featuring an incredible group of Australian women.” The NSW Police Force posted a ‘shout out’ with a photo of women officers marching. My old boss and dear friend posted a pic of the old office crew decked in purple attire. Mike Baird announced the NSW Public Service was now 100% flexible for all senior staff. Sisters are doing it for themselves. On International Women’s Day, we wanted to share this great shot of our all-female flight crew taking the reins on a trip from Sydney to Adelaide recently. A photo posted by Virgin Australia (@virginaustralia) on Mar 7, 2016 at 2:06pm PST My commute and lunchtime social media scroll sessions today were filled with articles, photos, quotes and statements of support for International Women’s Day. And so it should. Today is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women – locally, nationally and globally. It’s been celebrated in varying degrees for more than a century and remains an opportunity to demonstrate how we value 49.6% of our world population, the same proportion who continue to struggle with structural and cultural inequality. It’s also a platform to bring pertinent gender issues to the forefront. Brands, corporations, government and media agencies all celebrated differently. This weekend there were women’s fun runs and triathlons, today there were breakfasts, policy announcements, advertisements, social media posts and editorials. Their support of women was unquestionable. However, there was one key institution absent from the celebrations. The church. I used my lunch break to extensively search the internet – in hope. I trawled through the Facebook and Twitter channels of notable pastors, large churches and Christian organisations. I looked on key websites for opinion editorials or blog articles. I looked for anything or anyone recognising today, even just a humble #internationalwomensday. Here’s what I found: –          Michael Jensen shared this post on the value and role of men and women. ‘For Christians, woman aren’t property or baby makers. We’re witness to the life of Jesus Christ in our bodies…. Posted by Michael Jensen on Monday, March 7, 2016   –          John Dickson took the opportunity to share and challenge the doctrinal position held by the Sydney Anglican Diocese on women preaching. This International Women’s Day might be a good moment to revisit what was once (up until about 1990) the standard… Posted by John Dickson on Monday, March 7, 2016   –          Eternity magazine online re-posted an Open Doors article on women in Iraqi refugee camps.   Nothing from Australia’s largest church Hillsong. (Although it is their second of three women’s conferences today, so I’d be surprised if they didn’t do something with the 5000+ in attendance.) Nothing from some of Sydney’s largest churches. Nothing from my new church in Brisbane. Nothing from the leaders of Australia’s churches. It makes me wonder, why is the church not joining the rest of society in celebrating women? We live in a day that equality is high on the agenda: be it gender, marriage or economic. Further, we live in a day that society is very critical of the church. And for good reason, the church, as an institution, does not have such a great track record with inclusion and transparency. The same sex marriage conversation is evidence enough. The inclusion of ‘to submit’ in marriage vows brought the biblical role of women in marriage into the spotlight a few years ago. And even in February, ABC deemed it newsworthy to publish an article on the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney’s response to a question on gender equality at the annual prefect ceremony. The students were torn in how to reconcile his comments and the empowering words of their teachers, and society. I can understand why. Women make up half the population and close to 60% of the Australian church. Be it conscious or unconscious, the decision for the church to neglect the largest international day celebrating women adds propensity to the argument that the church doesn’t value women equally. See in the church failing to recognise the importance of day, it fails in joining the rest of our society is demonstrating we value and celebrate women and their role in our communities. And while men largely lead the church, a theological conversation I’m not having here, today was an opportunity for men and women. An opportunity for brothers and sisters alike to rally around their sisters past, present and future. Celebrating International Women’s Day is about saying to women “we love, care, appreciate, support and need you”. It’s saying it to every woman as she seeks equality in her life as a daughter, sister, mother, wife, worker, volunteer, teacher, nurse, truck driver, policewoman, children’s worker, pastor, student minister or corporate executive. At a personal level, I know my church values women. When a sister and I raised our frustrations that the past 4 video testimonies at church had been men, my campus pastor said he shared them and knew the next 4 would be women. If only they could be more equally distributed. And again, when deciding on making it my new home church, I shared the lack of women involved in the services bothered me. It concerned him also. He shared the problem was often having enough women willing to be involved. Taking time to celebrate women encourages women to continue on as they are, to look and push for opportunities, to enable (with words of affirmation and training) our sisters to be bold and serve, but also shows young girls to aspire to take active roles in their church. It also encourages our brothers to look to publicly and privately encourage, acknowledge and support women in the church. I hope the church values women, and I mourn the decision of friends to leave the church and the faith because they don’t believe so. But we need to hear it and see it to believe it. Women have played a huge role in the history of the church. Women continue to play a critical role in the church. Literally. Without women the church would more than halve. Celebrating women today shows the future generations that the church does indeed recognise equality of men and women, irrespective of how scripture is interpreted and played out in denominations and individual churches. We need today to remind us we need to pray, encourage, train and nurture women to continue to be active in the church, for Christ’s glory. When I ask the question, ‘why isn’t the church celebrating women?’ I am being deliberately provocative. But we need to be provoked.     As a post-script here are some Christian women I think are worth celebrating today: –          Florence Young, my great great aunt who led evangelistic outreaches to the Polynesian workers at her brothers’ sugar mills, served with China Inland Mission and established the South Sea Evangelical Mission –         Bobbie Houston, Hillsong cofounder who spearhead the Sisterhood ministries changing the way women meet together around the gospel –          Raechel Myers, co founder of She Reads Truth, a daily devotional website used by millions of women (and now men ‘hereadstruth.com’) regularly –      My dear friends A, H, E all currently understand ministry traineeships of various forms   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)