Humanity… 

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2016 by L.J

I’ve been thinking a lot about humanity these days… It seems the more ways we have to connect with one another, the less connecting we are actually doing. 

Having watched the first season of Westworld, I was reminded again of the many stories I’ve read over the years where artificial intelligence (A.I) in its attempt to adapt and make sense of the world around it always seemed to exhibit more humanity than the humans in the story… In fact the stark contrast between evolution of human creation and the devolution of humanity in humans is often a common theme. Is this simply that we don’t trust ourselves enough to believe we can evolve as fast as our technological advances, or are we aware of our underlying animalistic behaviours? 

Or… Are we simply responding to what we know of ourselves from what we witness our fellow humans doing? After all its very easy to believe that we are capable of losing our humanity when we see what’s happening in Aleppo right now. 

How can we accept the genocide of a people and still claim to hold onto our humanity? How do we reconcile with ourselves when we know that there are other humans fighting to survive? When our advancements in technology allow us to be witnesses to their goodbyes through social media and yet we do nothing. Are we held hostage by our technology which allows us to watch the fall of a society, have we reached a stage where we don’t know what to do so in our helplessness we simply share the images and hope someone with answers will see? Have we simply desensitised ourselves of the horrors that humans are capable of committing? 

I know there is good in the world. I see it in those who I connect with.  There is so much darkness in this year that I can only hope that its the darkness before dawn… and not the darkness before the storm. I’m not ready to invest my hope for humanity in machines, but if they can ultimately help us humans find our humanity again I’ll gladly accept it. Until someone gives me a better answer my answer will be to simply be kind, be kind, be kind. 

Falling…

Posted in Ramblings on September 20, 2016 by L.J

They hang on with tenuous grip, but they know soon that they will need to let go.

Some are brave and dramatically leap from their position, you can see them catch the air as they descend to their death.

Others slip, not quite ready to drop, but they have no choice, their grip having lost strength from holding on for too long releases them to skip through the air as they head towards the ground below.

Some hang on for as long as they can, it’s not that they’re afraid of their coming death, but that they love life just that bit more so they hang with all their might before taking their final plunge, their fall as spectacular as their life was.

Others are almost like soldiers, accepting in their duty, they leap in almost uniformed precision, making bold dives towards the earth, brazenly hurtling past others in their deadly drop.

For some, they have accepted this as their last act and are determined to provide the best performance of their short descent. They leap and reach for air currents that push them into different directions, they spin over and flutter their way down towards the ground.

Others are like lovers, reaching across the expanse of air as they float towards one another, to join in an embrace, some tangle together, others collide and then separate watching each other as they drift apart, all the while falling head over heel towards their death.

They hit the ground, one upon the other. Some land afar and some land side by side. They stretch and begin to curl their toes. They let out their last breath as they lay there in the pale autumn sunlight. They slowly seep into the soil below the trees that gave them life, even if was for a few short seasons.

Such is the life of leaves.

Demons and don’t knows…

Posted in Life on September 20, 2016 by L.J

Every now and then I allow that voice in my head to convince me that no one really cares. This voice has become more cunning with age, it waits until the right moment and then pounces with a veracity that leaves me gasping for connection only to find nothing but thin air.

It’s easy to be convinced that no one really cares or wants to connect with you in a way that is more than the “Hi, how’s your day? Good thanks, see ya.” In a busy world where we race from obligation to obligation and the connections with others are fleeting, you only need to be feeling slightly down and then the voice slides beside you as cool as a spring breeze… “did you notice that she wasn’t really listening? I told you she’s not interested in your friendship”.

A sensible person would recognise the reality of the other person being busy too, but when you’re already struggling and that little demon of a voice gives you a nudge its very easy to accept the notion that you’re really just as worthless as you’re being led to believe.

I live alone, but I’m not a lonely person. I find coming home a chance to escape into solitude, to rest and to restore energy lost during the day. I’ve never felt lonely living alone. It isn’t until I’m in a large crowd that I really recognise my loneliness.

The truth of the matter is that I appear to be missing some piece inside that allows me to recognise which people see me as a friend, and which people see me as someone they tolerate in their space. As simple as I try to keep my life, I’m aware that others around me are complex creatures, which only furthers my confusion between “friend”, “acquaintance” and “I’m tolerating you with a smile but begone soon please”.

It’s not as simple as asking others either, as people might simply say “of course you’re my friend/someone I care about” which allows the devilish voice to question “are they simply saying that to make you feel better, regardless of truth?”

Most of the time I squash this voice with a confidence born from affection for others. Sometimes though, the voice gathers strength from a variety of hints dropped unassumingly by others that leaves me questioning whether it’s worth getting out of bed, let alone going back into the fray.

So far though I’m still winning this battle and as long as there is ambiguity in the world I will continue to believe the best even when the voice tries to convince me otherwise.

Mindfulness and Gratitude…

Posted in Life, Technology on March 29, 2016 by L.J

At the start of the new teaching year we heard from a guest speaker who highlighted the importance of two elements that are often missing in today’s busy world. Mindfulness and gratitude. There’s a groundswell of spreading this idea at the moment, which is really an old idea that has been lost somewhere along the way with technological advancements in the developed world that distract us from ourselves. I found the talk fascinating as I sat there considering the severe differences between the world of the “haves” versus the world of the “have nots”.

There was a connection made… a line of correlation that suggested that those of us humans with the more things, might also be more unhappy in life than those with the least things. It made me think about all the things that I have and my reason for having them to begin with. At some point we reflected on what we were grateful for in the day. In fact we were encouraged to write 3 things that we were grateful for each day, and to try this for at least one month. The benefits to mental health were highlighted and it seemed like a thing to do.

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I started my gratitude diary… it lasted 2 weeks. Now I know what you’re thinking “she can’t keep at anything, this randomly updated blog is a great example of that”. There was however another reason why I didn’t keep it up and yes the argument could be made that I’m simply providing an excuse or a justification for my own bad behaviour but hear me out. I started off by taking it seriously, after all those mental health benefits sounded fabulous and who doesn’t want to feel better about themselves in a world that encourages us not to be so we can buy some product that will help us with our poor self? So I wrote down gratitude after gratitude, things such as:

“I’m grateful to be surrounded by people who support me even when they don’t understand.”

“I’m grateful that I have time to read for pleasure.”

“I’m grateful for their smile, which tells me that they’re listening to what I have to say.”

These are all things that are important to me, but something dawned on me as I got to writing entry number 16… I already do this… everyday I reflect and think of the little things that made my day great, or that saved my day from disaster. Sometimes it was the action of another, sometimes it was a decision I came to by myself and sometimes it was just by chance. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not ticking off the things that make me grateful that I’m here regardless of my circumstance at any given time. Do I really have to write down what I’m already doing?

As for mindfulness? I learnt a long time ago the power of being in the moment. It is something that I think people are allowing themselves to be robbed of. The desperation people have to “save the moment” by taking a photo rather than “savouring the moment” is so prevalent in our society that it makes me sad. I have a phone that takes photos like everyone else does and I take hundreds of photos with it, but when it’s a special moment I can’t cope with the idea of trying to fish my phone out, press the app I need and then looking up to see what I’ve missed…

This photo says it all for me… there is one person truly in the moment… and I hope I’ll always be able to savour the moment like this lady and not be on the periphery of life’s moments grasping my technology like the lost link to civilisation.

Black Mass Premier At Coolidge Corner

BROOKLINE, MA – SEPTEMBER 15: Crowd cheers as actors arrive at the premier of the movie Black Mass at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, Mass. Sept. 15, 2015. (Photo by John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Happy New Year…

Posted in Life on January 4, 2016 by L.J

The NYE celebrations are always something to look forward to. For me it is the one holiday that truly signals hope and a chance for adventure or change. This year however I found myself without any plans to see the new year in and it got me down. I had family over for dinner but it wasn’t long before they had left leaving me with an evening to myself. You’re probably thinking ‘why didn’t the family stay?’ it’s nothing dramatic they just don’t really do the whole NYE celebration thing. So I spent the night alternating from watching TV and taking leisurely dips in the pool to cool off from the warm summer night. At the stroke of midnight I was floating in the pool watching the stars peek between the clouds that appeared to be glowing from nearby fireworks some legal, most illegal. Instead of feeling alone at that moment and sorry for myself I found myself thinking of all the NYE celebrations that have gone before me and how lucky I’ve been to enjoy in the creation of some fairly great memories.

I remembered going to Italy with good friends from work and arriving in Milan on New Year’s Eve with Pam and her mum. We wandered the city before returning to our hotel room only to crash and sleep straight through the celebrations to awake groggy and jet lagged into the new year’s morning. We spent our first day of 2011 wandering the streets of a very sleepy Como. The day felt like a dream as we watched the locals slowly emerge from homes to open shop fronts and cafes. We took the ferry around the lake, it was bitterly cold as the winter sun seemed to be just as sleepy as the locals. The views were like something out of a story book as we drifted from one side of the lake to the other watching locals and tourists hop on and off the ferry.

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When we returned to the town it had come alive and market stalls had popped up with friendly banter filtering through the air. We had pasta for lunch as we soaked up the sunshine that had won the battle with the high clouds. I remember sitting there with my pasta and my friends just people watching and thinking how lucky I am to be starting the year like this!

It wasn’t long before I was overseas again for a New Year’s Eve and it would again be with Pam that I would be traveling with. We laughed and joked about surely not falling asleep again for another NYE as we traveled with our little Intrepid group through Thailand. We arrived in Sangkhlaburi in the afternoon and discovered our guest house would be on the shore of the beautiful Khao Laem Lake. We had dinner at the neighbouring accommodation and it was evident that we were one of the few tourists in the area with mainly locals setting up tents on the grassy banks by the lake and eating along the large stone balcony that we all shared. We soon got chatting with our little group as we watched the sun set in the distant hills behind the lake.

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As the night rolled on our guide presented us with a paper lantern and we signed our names and wishes for 2014 onto the paper. We wandered down to the shore of the lake and stood on the little jetty watching little glowing lanterns from around the lake rise up into the heavens. We lit our own lantern and held onto it hoping that we knew what we were doing, the locals smiled at our enthusiasm as we excitedly released our lantern. We watched it rise only to list to a side before sailing on down into the lake a few feet out of reach of rescue. The local children giggled at the sound of our dismay and our own amusement and it wasn’t long before we were given another lantern to try again. Maybe our wishes were too heavy for the first one, but the second one soon left us to sail onward and upwards.

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We cheered before returning to the balcony and our beers. When the new year rang in fireworks exploded along the lake as more lanterns took off on their leisurely updrafts to the stars.  The owner of the restaurant came to our table to wish us a happy new year and told us to help ourselves to drinks in the fridge as he went off to be with family. It was such a relaxing way to move into a new year and again I found myself smiling at the thought that I was starting another year with a new adventure.

Between the years of travel there have been many NYE celebrations spent at Kerrie and Rob’s place with my best friend Mel. I remember my first NYE with Kerrie and Rob and being nervous about intruding on their celebrations after accepting an offer from Mel to join her and her family for the night. My nerves were banished as soon as I arrived with Kerrie’s wonderful warmth as she welcomed me to her home. We all sat outside with cold drinks to combat the warm summer night and played with glow sticks, party poppers and sparklers.

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We ate party food and cake and had the music blaring but it wasn’t as loud as the laughs we were having. I’ve always enjoyed a NYE celebration with Kerrie and Rob and more importantly my best friends Mel and Adam. We can get a laugh by just looking at each other in that knowing way and it’s with all of that happening that I know that the new year coming is always going to have goodness in it.

So even though I spent this NYE alone when the clock struck twelve I had the memories of past great NYE celebrations to keep me afloat for 2016.

Arthur Ashe Award and Internet hysteria…

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21, 2015 by L.J

So last week at the ESPYS Caitlyn Jenner was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Whilst the audience sat and nodded and clapped as Jenner gave her acceptance speech the Internet blazed alight with freak outs from keyboard critics everywhere. There were people excited and thrilled that transgender issues were being highlighted in an industry that is still very much struggling with anything relevant to gender and sexuality. The sporting world continues to be shocked when a rare athlete reveals that they are anything but heterosexual. In most cases the “outing” occurs long after the athlete has retired especially if they are male. If they do risk revealing their sexuality they are guaranteed that who they like to sleep with is the only thing the press will be interested in regardless of their sporting prowess.

Michael Sam

Michael Sam made headlines for being a gay NFL draftee…

It wasn’t long before the outrage of Jenner’s award became a trending topic online, with comments flying everywhere but mostly from the right. Remarks were made about how gender reassignment surgery doesn’t equal courage, and how surely those who get shot at in war zones are more deserving. In fact these comments were so frequent it led to one soldier sending a big can of STFU to all the reactionaries. The negative reactions from people online gave readers an interesting look into how much people struggle to identify with what is considered as courage, and how quickly history is forgotten.

Recent Arthur Ashe Award Recipients – VIDEO

The Arthur Ashe has often been awarded to those who push the boundaries of society, especially the boundaries of those who find comfort staying in their tight little conforming world. It is also worth noting that often there has been an underlying political angle or a response to societal norms and challenges through the awarding of the Arthur Ashe, which is no more different than the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars. So why was this award for Jenner so particularly polarising? Let’s remember that Jenner isn’t the first recipient to be noted for their role in sexuality equality, after all Billie Jean King was awarded the Ashe in 1999 for her continued representation and fight for sexual equality. Michael Sam the first openly gay NFL draftee/player was also awarded the Ashe in 2014. So how is it that the ESPYS are so confidently nominating and awarding athletes who represent team rainbow yet the sporting industry as a whole is still eons behind in providing an environment where athletes can feel safe to be themselves?

Part of Jenner’s acceptance speech at the 2015 ESPYS

It’s possible that people felt the timing of this award coincided just a little too close with the up and coming new TV show for Caitlyn Jenner and the tinge of cross promotion was just a little much. It’s also possible that for many watching the ESPYS that they weren’t ready to be challenged over the fact that transgender issues are serious enough to warrant us as a society to sit up and take note. The harsh reality of high suicide rates and crimes against transgender people is not only confronting but shameful. With so many outspoken groups and individuals out there in the mainstream media touting the evils of being transgender, it’s arguably more important than ever for people like Caitlyn Jenner, Chaz Bono and Laverne Cox to step out and show those who are battling with gender identity that they matter. That they too deserve the humanity that is afforded to everyone else.

Gender disparity in sport…

Posted in Gender, Life, News, Sport with tags , , , , , , on November 30, 2014 by L.J

With all the advancements that women have made in the world, there is still a ways to go when it comes to women in sport and how women in sport are viewed. Professional sport is recognised in a variety of ways in the contemporary world whether it be by monetary value, advertising power or media presence. In all three of these elements women rarely if ever out rank their male counterparts, yet no clear reason is evident for this. The only place where women out rank men is on their individual sporting success.

Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach – 6 time winner of the U.S Soccer Athlete of the year award.

The sporting world is littered with examples of where select women’s teams (English Cricket team, Aussie and Dutch hockey teams) or individuals (Golfer Annika Sorenstam, Tennis champ Venus Williams) are ahead of their male counterparts when it comes to success. Yet they rarely become the household names that their male equivalents do, and even if they do you’re not going to find big posters for kids to put on their bedroom walls. Which begs the question, is there shame in being a female sporting hero? Where are the posters for young men and women to put up of their favourite players who just happen to be female? Why must we persist with posters of Michael Jordan or football players as the dominant options? 365544-hockeyroos-win-in-delhi There is a circular argument that exists, where women’s sport would be more televised/reported on and have more prize money/sponsorship IF they had more people interested in them in the first place, and the only way they can have that is if they’re being televised/reported on… This is a cruel concept on many levels because it makes it incredibly hard for women to break out of the circular rhetoric that surrounds women’s sport. It makes it harder for women to dispel/confront or alter the myths surrounding womens sport (they might get hurt easier, they turn into men, something happens to their sexuality). It makes it harder for young women who are talented to determine their career paths and it makes it harder for some to support their families/self if they do choose to be a professional sportswoman.

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When scouring the Internet for articles on this topic it’s not hard to find the comments from Joe Blog demonising women in sport sometimes being overtly sexist, but often displaying sexist thoughts without being consciously aware of such. The overwhelming suggestion from men regarding how women could lift their profile in sport, was to “sexy it up” or that “Bikinis could save most female professional sports leagues”. This speaks volumes about the understanding of how hard sports people work (regardless of gender) and how far society has to come before we can accept the fact that a beach volleyball outfit is not the answer for the success of women’s sport in general. The argument that sex sells demeans the sport in question implying that without the “sex” element the sport wouldn’t be worth playing or watching at all. sex-sells-main Women in sport have been further compounded recently in Australia by our Minister for Women (PM Tony Abbott), thanks to the budget cuts to SBS and the ABC. As a result one of the first things to go is the televising of women’s sport. This is a frustrating and outrageous thing to have happen. Women in sport already get the bottom of the barrel when it comes to print media… women appear in the sport section not only after the men, but after the horses as well. 0 As a Phys Ed Teacher, the loss of televised women’s sport makes a bigger impact on my classroom than what was already happening because it decreases my chances of providing my students with great examples of women in sport. It allows some of my students to reinforce in their heads that women don’t belong in professional sport and it also makes it harder for my female students to identify and connect with sportswomen that they would like to emulate in their future. Ennis_2314669b Sport is suppose to be the great equaliser, the coming together of like minded combatants who desire nothing more than to overcome their previous attempts. We as a society allow these events to be altered by money, media coverage and the advertising world’s distorted views on what success is suppose to look like.