A Beautiful Soul

A week ago, what feels like an entirety, a friend died. Suddenly, unexpectedly.

This man was integral to my journey into working with the Indigenous community.  We met while I was working on the Message Sticks Festival at the Sydney Opera House in early 2000. This was the first time I had worked closely with the Indigenous community. He witnessed my struggle, as a white fella, coming to terms with harsh realities of sins of the fathers, my fathers, my ancestors. Also, with some members of the community not being accepting of my presence, a white fella, engaged by the Opera House to market this annual festival.

Sensing, not only my discomfort, but my loss as to how to prove myself he took me aside – reached out his hand and made me feel part of the team. Accepting of me, he gave me the confidence to push forward and worked my butt off to make the festival and many events after a success.

On many occasions you would counsel me – yell at me, sometimes screaming- “give up the white guilt girlfriend” Get over it. Get on with it.

You taught me naughty words in language. You danced with me. We laughed. You are  one of those rare people in life that could light up a room and make everyone feel comfortable.

You were my friend and confidant. We shared so many stories, laughs, tears, hangovers and sore feet. Dancing into the dawn, usually after an opening night or a festival, always full of love and laughter.

One day, you introduced me as Aunty to a mob of kids working at The Studio. I turned to you, embarrassed  and said “Aunty” –  yes, you said –  you must be respected –  you are helping our people get our stories out there. You are also old! *chuckle* that cheeky laugh.

As I’m writing this – MJ comes on – lets dance baby!

So many memories of our time together…

“Make me tall Bubba” . We were shooting you and Christine Anu for a Message Sticks Cover. We digitally altered the shot  – very tall now!

Always making sure I was safely in a cab after a big night out after The Deadlys, Message Sticks, Page 8, Bangarra, the pub, the club …anytime and always

Kicking the drag queens off the stage at Midnight Shift as we wanted to dance there

The vulnerability when you were about to go on stage for Page 8, the scared look you gave me saying you didn’t think you could do it. Of course you did and it was brilliant.

Recording in your studio with Jessie for an advert. More laughter and fooling around. We missed the deadline and got in trouble.

Sneaking around the back of buildings, the opera house, lane ways, the wharf for a quick ciggie.

You confiding in me you knew something wasn’t right. I knew what it was and couldn’t tell you. I had to protect you. You would know now and I hope you are ok with it.

Running into you randomly at Brisbane airport – a few times, both of us up in QLD visiting our Mums. We would laugh walking towards each other at departure lounge. These were so random and so not planned. I will look for you when I am there next…and by the way, why was I always the one to get searched at screening….more laughter, you ALWAYS thought that was hilarious.

The incredible honour of seeing Sugarland on opening night in Sydney, but again you were so worried about what people would think of it. It was and still is an amazing piece of theatre. Touring as we speak and I am sure for many years to come.

The night after you died, you came and spoke to me in a dream, you were so very distressed, so sad and sorry. I woke and walked into the park, sat on a tree, with your words in my head. A huge flock of black cockatoos took flight at my presence, screeching and calling, looking down at me as the flew away. A sense of peace came over me and I knew you had gone. Every time I  hear their call I will think of you.

I have guilt, not white fella guilt this time, but guilt as a friend I wasn’t there for you as you had been for me so many times. The late night calls had stopped, I thought you were ok. I so wish you had called me or anyone.

We hadn’t seen each other much recently but when we did we sure made up for it. We will meet again and laugh and dance.

Until then, from my ancestors – May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be at your back, may soft rain fall upon your face and may God hold you in the palm of his hand, until we meet again.

Rest in Peace Davey

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Photo Credit for Black and Proud: Harold David for the Sydney Opera House Message Sticks Festival

 

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Animals of Sri Lanka

Everyone would know I love animals. Obsessed with them, grew up with them and always told to deeply respect them. My family are all massive animal lovers, we grew up on a farm and they protected us, loved us, gave us income and a reason to get up in the morning. So when choosing my latest holiday, animals, as well as beaches, food and good times are always in the mix!

Am outside Galle, having been here two days now and the range of all creatures is amazing. I’m writing this surrounded by birds, weird squirrel type rat things, dogs, cats,horses, thalpe  mongoose, snakes and more insects you could poke a stick at. Happy is what i am! And thats just on land – turtles, whales, dolphins, extrordinary seafood in the beautiful sea.

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There are a large number of street dogs, but they are not scrangy like the street dogs that broke my heart in Bali or Jamica. These dogs are well fed, sure they have ear mites and skin conditions, but this humid climate would present similar problems in the most loved well kept pets. I’ve seen numerous dogs, just like my beloved Oliver, foxy/Jack Russell and my heart lept. These dogs are friendly as well and happy ! Oliver 2 lay beside me by the pool, happy rolling around. He didn’t beg just wanted to hang out.  As Sri Lanka is mainly Buddhist, I presume that is why they’re looked after? I am by the coast and food is plentiful,especially seafood, these dogs snack on fresh tuna! I slept soundly last night comforted in the knowledge that i was protected by the guest house dogs. Am off now to find a pet shop to get a large pack of treats and to donate to the animal welfare groups that are clearly doing a fantastic job in a third world country that has had so many challenges.    

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Your Boss is a Bully – she’s also a woman

Why are there now so many female bullies, especially in the workplace? I have had a few mates recently who have  had this happen to them. I asked a client about this recently who runs an EMP consultancy (trauma and staff counselling) he said to me the incidents of senior female managers bullying junior female workers has become much much more frequent that it was in the past.

Woman fought hard to get into the workplace, but my generation of senior managers are seriously beginning to lose their cool. And this bullying business is not cool.

Are these women managers threatened by younger women? is it a territorial thing? Sure its got better for young women coming into the work place but that’s a good  thing right? That is what I would hope has happened after the years of  toil and trouble I went through post uni in the 80’s, breaking down barriers, climbing on top of oil tankers, standing in the mud and generally fiercely showing I can do whatever a man can do in a work place. My generation should be mentoring and training, not breaking spirits.

And women are great at tormenting other women – I should know, I’m the sixth daughter in a large family. emotional blackmail, irrational behaviour, sheer bloody torture.

Great article here from Forbes on the rise of the female bully in the workplace.

There is a lot of emphasis on kids being bullied, but maybe some awareness needs to be made of this “new” workplace bullying.

Its sad. And don’t get me started on what has happened with our previous female PM and how she has been bullied. That’s a whole new blog in itself!

*image from Bully the film and project 

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A home amongst the Sydney gum trees – not so easy if you rent

A home amongst the Sydney gum trees – not so easy if you rent.

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A home amongst the Sydney gum trees – not so easy if you rent

House hunting, blergh

I was told mid May I had to leave my house, the place was falling down, terrible damp and the owners wanted to renovate. I had previously decided to move in April, the thought of another winter in that house where it was 5 degrees cooler inside then out was not something me or my allergies could put up with.  But as a summer house it was divine. Many fun times in the house, many guests, parties and BBQ‘s in the garden. Sad times too, losing my beloved puss cat suddenly to cancer not long after I moved in was  traumatic 5 years ago. I still see Bogart sometimes out of the corner of my eye. I couldn’t replace him, so ended up with Oliver dog.

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So the hunt began in April. I did find something quickly, but as the new landlord wanted a month’s rent up front, combined with 3 weeks rent notice period from my current one meant $5000+ down the drain. So I kept looking, hoping a smaller deposit would be achievable. Luckily, having formally been told my lease was terminated, meant I didn’t need to give the 3 week notice period. I could leave anytime. Hooray ! Easy, or so I thought.

I haven’t looked in 5+ years for a rental. And what a lot of froth and bubble has happened since then. Bribes, now common to agents, not all but some dastardly types is now happening.  You see, I was told, my application would have been a “higher” priority if I had given a bit extra. In the good old days – first one in with the application form wins. Not if someone else views the property at the same time, hears you tell the agent you want it, then dollars change hands. And  then, there is the pay more than the advertised rental trick. Idiots! pay more than the already over inflated rents to make sure they win. Seriously, do we really need to do this? Sydney housing is indeed in crisis.

And don’t get me started on properties that don’t allow pets. Units – sure I understand that, but houses….with a garden?? Commeee on – I know children cause far more damage to houses then pets do. And I know having been a landlord myself in the past. No Pet draws on walls, punches holes in the wall thanks very much. Thank goodness Clover Moore is trying to change these ridiculous rules with pets in rentals in NSW. So I’ve been told, don’t tell them you have a dog, you will never get a place if you do. But my boy is  a tad boisterous, while I may have tried to smuggle a cat in before to rentals – I think a dog is a little harder. So my honesty is penalising me.

I’m onto house inspection 25, with twice that in drive by’s and the 4th application about to be submitted and cross fingers I hope I’m successful. At a rental that in Qld would have me a mortgage payment for a 4 bedroom house. In Sydney, that mortgage would pay for a small unit. No thanks – I’ll rent and think about buying a house outside of town.

I will miss seeing my Bogie out of the corner of my eye, and hearing my cousins laugh in the garden the last time she visited before passing away.

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Its time to move, change and move on. Here’s to new adventures! But all I will say I suspect this will be my last move within Sydney. Sydney I love you but you are soo bringing me down…

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The +1 Factor and SSM’s – Smug Single Men

I was talking the other day with a mate about how to put up with in laws that you don’t like and should you go to their funeral when the time comes? It was a funny convo – she said yes, out of respect. I think no – from respect as well, to go to someone’s funeral you clearly disliked is maybe dishonest and disrespectful in my view. But then, funerals are for the ones left behind – not the ones in the ground.

This then made me think of some people in my life I have to “put up with”  you know the ones you don’t like…not just brother in laws but relatives and hardest for me – my friends partners. I find it very hard to be false, I can’t do it. I will be polite – but please don’t make me have to go on endless outings with them. Luckily there are few of these now, the majority of my mates have awesome partners that put up with me so that’s tops!

On the flip side, I seem to have many gorgeous friends who struggle to find decent guys in this town. There does appear to be a lack of decent straight single “normal”men in Sydney.

Making it even harder is that I’ve recently come across what I am now calling SSM’s – Smug Single Men who know in Sydney that their world is their oyster. One SSM said to me a couple of weeks ago, oh that girl is so cute but I could never go out with her as she’s got fat ankles? Like WTF – nothing to do with a lovely person she is blah blah.  The issue seems to be that SSM’s have SO many  women to choose from now, and I see women, especially ones successful in work, being retardedly sloppy and allowing men to be carry on with this behaviour.

These guys think they can do what they like, and they can, and even if you are a fantastic person – if you’ve got fat ankles you are out!

Anhoo – distracted again, back to what to do with people around you who you don’t like. Make a brave face? Put  up and shut up? At the end of the day it depends on the relationship – same as in going to funerals for people you don’t like – its always about the other person, the ones left behind.

And as one of my sisters said to me when she was having a falling out with another sister…”just because we are related doesn’t mean I have to like you” yep says it all.

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Bail Hi (and low)

Struggling to find the balance with totally over the top luxury after  visiting 5 star resorts and bars for dinner and walking home to my nice, but simple villa. As i walk, next door, or in between  villas are locals living in shacks, clearly poor.

The cow in the field next door eating rubbish, the puppy looking worm infested….these things are playing on my mind, especially as i was planning a shopping expedition  today.  I think i don’t need all that stuff, i should do something more meanngful with my dollars.

Yes i should buy to support locals. Yes i should tip. But i feel the great inequity between first & third world.

I was pretty well zoned  out after a few days in Ubud, moving back to Seminyak yesterday realising we didn’t have the right change and gave the driver $10usd more than the agreed fee reinforced this. The look in his eyes, hugely grateful, a tear. I think i saw a tear. $10usd to us is a large latte each.

And then the reality of the history here when our taxi is searched for bombs as we drive into a resort for sundowners. Then watching local Balinese having their bags searched while the tourists walk straight by. Really? Like no Westerner has ever been in involved in terrorism.

The inequality of life. The reason everyone should travel. Open your eyes, see what the world is really like. Escaping my bubble.

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Having to say goodbye

Today, I had to do something I have not done before. Say goodbye to someone you care about, knowing you won’t see them again. You see, my beautiful cousin, more like another big sister to me, has terminal cancer.

Gab is the eldest of a large family and one of my few cousins that lives in Sydney. We used to talk often, she’d come over for lunches, BBQ’s, parties and I’d pop in if I was up her way. Her Mum, AC as I called her, was my favourite Aunt – a real card…so much fun, and naughty. Gab inherited AC’s naughtiness and wicked laugh.

One of the funniest memories I have is Gab coming to one of my parties. She arrived with all she could find in the fridge, her 20 year old daughters Vodka Cruisers. This was kinda odd for my Champagne Charlie friends. But hilarious and  just like Gab to me. No  time to stop to get some wine, even though it was a 40 minute drive away and she must have past at least 10 bottle shops – there’s a party on and I gotta get there!!

She has always been someone I could talk to openly and honestly about troubles in my life and the usual family tensions. Always with a great smile, the throaty laugh  – always supportive and always there. Gab, today can’t talk any more. That was the hardest thing for me, she could nod and every now and then I’d say something that would make her smile. But Gab not being able to talk….that was heartbreaking. It was only a month ago  that we had a chat on the phone. How could this happen so quick? Gab that loved to chat like nothing else. How cruel to take this away from her, her ability to speak.

How I will miss her. The talks and the laughs. and the talking and talking.

This picture is of Gab on the right hand side, with a some of my cousins, talking – with a glass of wine in her hand!

Safe travels my darling and we will meet again for more long chats and a glass or two.

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The rights and the wrongs

Is it a state of nurture or upbringing that you somehow work out when you get older what is the right way to do things? Morals, ethics, religion? I am constantly surprised when people do, what is obvious to me, the wrong thing. I’m not talking shooting someone or robbing a grocery store – its more about how you live your life.

I see more and more examples of wrong doings, not just in business, but in my personal life as well. Sometimes its all about that money – the evil dollar that has such influence on what people do. I’m not naive, but I have never felt money as a motivator, but I do know some people that it is their prime motivator for living. I would find it very difficult to make a decision, I know would be wrong, because of money.

Then there are the liars and the cheaters. The cheaters that take what is not theirs – knowingly take someone else’s partner. Selfishness, greed, gluttony. And deception, the disloyalty. Loyalty and being faithful isn’t a part time thing, or when it suits you.

This is beginning to sound like the seven deadly sins!

Have we as a society become so broken that some basic norms are now not “en vogue” lets just do what we want, take what we want? It doesn’t matter how much you would hurt someone by your actions?

To break a commercial contract is one thing, to break a friends trust or a bond – that is something much more dastardly. To me anyway.

Recently I discovered that someone I knew was having an affair with a friends partner. The woman, the instigator, and I had a conversation. How could you even think of doing this I asked, knowing that the man was in a long term relationship? Because I can – she said, I don’t care about her.

Doesn’t care. Doesn’t think its wrong. How on earth is this right? and don’t get me started on the bloke….as they say once a cheater always a cheater.

I don’t know how to end this blog but to hang my head in disgust as to what is happening to people and  to focus on being with people that have a similar code of living as what I do. Reliable, loyal, honest and good people who will do the right thing. Thank god there are people in my life that are like that.

A picture hangs in my office, and while I’m not sure I believe in Karma, I do believe in this

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The way it used to be – how things have changed – and not

I recently caught up with some old mates from my corporate days. I havn’t seen one of them since I left that company some 20 years ago.  We were all  grad trainees for a multinational oil company  and I was one of the first female managers to be hired in Australia.

It was at the time, the best option for me as I had decided not to continue with accounting (my original degree major) and after working for a FMCG company as a grad accountant, I decided to take the leap to get a broader range of experiences. and what experience it was! I really, at 21, had no idea what I wanted to do but knew accounting wasn’t it! This opportunity gave me broad training and exposure in a variety of fields to help me make up my mind.

So  – the process began, training in retail, merchandising, property development, sales, management, stock control, branding, marketing…and on it went. It was good experience. I made some life long friends, earned a lot of money and gained great work skills. But it came at a cost. The oil industry, back then and I have no idea what its like now, was homophobic, misogynistic and sexist. It was tough seeing men being promoted above you after being told that as a woman I was seen as a weak link as I may “go and get myself pregnant” I was also told by senior male managers what a disgrace it was that women were now taking jobs from men who were trying to support their wives and children.

This was the big bad 80’s & 90’s after all. It did eventually end in tears with sexual harassment being a common occurrance and seeing one of my very good friends being belittled for being gay.

And what shocked me the most last week was that two of these men STILL thought like this. They were still belittling this friend for being gay. In 2012. They laughed about it. They are also in their mid 40’s.

I  now work in the arts and cultural industries (that good money I earnt back then, helped me set up my business) I don’t even think twice about my gay colleagues, artists, mates being gay – they are who they are. I truly felt sick to the stomach when these guys were making jokes at the expenses of this old colleague for being gay.

Maybe I’m naive and live in a little bubble, but I cannot believe that these attitudes still exist. I had a few words and left quickly. There was no way I wanted to be even in the same room as them. I wonder if in another 20 years whether they will still have these thoughts?

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