Archive | March 2011

Still Here

I haven’t written my blog for two weeks now. Sorry, to my regular readers. I will be back soon though – with some more books to tell you about and I hope, some new directions.

This hiatus has been a period of restoration and transformation for me. I’ll be emerging from the chrysalis soon.

See you then.

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Girls Can Do Anything

It’s International Women’s Day, and I want to mark the occasion. For me, this is an important day. I’ve seen the world change around me and what’s possible for women these days was only dreamed of when I was a child.

Growing up in Australia during the 70s and 80s, we were full of optimism. Posters of women in overalls, or wearing lab coats were hung around my high school proclaiming “Girls Can Do Anything”. We were told that one day, there might even be a female premier or prime minister. My friends and I were excited by that, but we never truly thought we would see it happen.

When I was a child, very few women were on radio and fewer still read the news. I remember discussing this with my friends – we concluded that it must be because men have deeper voices that carry a greater air of authority.

Women didn’t host television shows back in those days either. Instead they had roles as the glamorous spokes model, or the wacky sidekick.

Women were rarely seen in Australian politics, either.

The doctors were men, the dentists were men, the bankers, accountants, engineers, plumbers, bus drivers were all men.

The change must have been gradual, but it has definitely arrived. The radio airwaves are full of women’s voices, they read the news too, and sound no less authoritative than their male counterparts. The doctors at my local surgery are, with one exception, female. My dentist is a woman too. In fact it seems ridiculous to suggest these day, that that might be odd or unusual. Yet it was considered odd once.

I still remember when Australia recruited its first female commercial airline pilot – and the uproar it caused on talk back radio. People were genuinely worried that at a certain time of the month she would not be able to exercise good judgement or properly control an aircraft. Nowadays we wouldn’t think twice about a female pilot.

How times have changed in only a few decades.

Now, for the first time in history, those of us in NSW Australia have all female line of government. Our Queen, of course, is female, our Governor General, the head of state, is also female. Love her or loathe her, our primeminister is female, as is our much maligned state premier.

It’s something we used to talk about, but never truly thought would happen – but it has. And that’s why International Women’s Day is important to me. For the first time in Australian history we have proved that girls can indeed do anything.

So today, if you feel inclined, perhaps spare a thought for those trail blazing women and their supporters who paved the way. You might also spare a thought also for the many women through out the world who continue to be deprived of education, the right to vote, to work and to personal freedom simply because they are female.

Manners – My Conclusions

I’ve been writing about manners each Monday for a while now. The process has helped me clarify my own thoughts on the subject and I think they boil down to these points:

1. Manners aren’t about rules and ettiquette. If your focus is on putting others at ease – helping them to feel welcome, accepted and comfortable you are probably doing alright in the manners department.

2. Most people aren’t intentionally rude. When you start to feel offended or angry, before responding,  take a moment to consider if you have misinterpreted the situation: is it possible that the other person is actually trying to be polite, but you both have different cultural expectations about what politeness looks like? Is it possible that the other person is ignorant of the fact their behaviour has offended you? Is it possible that the person’s behaviour is just fine, but you are reading some hidden agendas into it. In otherwords you are offended by what you imagine their intention is, rather than their actual intention?

3. When responding to bad manners, keep points one and two in mind. It may not be worth raising the issue at all with the other person, but if you do decide to raise it, you won’t make any progress if you don’t put them at ease. Try to not to use language that accuses or condems – this really won’t help, especially if they hadn’t intended to be rude. Instead try using “I feel” statements to explain how a behaviour affects you.  Humour works well too.

In most cases, its probably not worth raising the issue at all.

There is a famous story about Eleanor Roosevelt which sums things up well. When one of her guests was offered a finger bowl between courses, he mistook it for soup, picked up a spoon and started to sip it.  Instead of pointing out his error, Eleanor Roosevelt picked up her spoon and consumed the contents of her finger bowl as well. 

The rules of etiquette and good manners aren’t the point. Its the spirit which is important – that spirit of  accepting other people, caring for them and upholding their dignity. If we keep that in mind when we deal with other people we should be able to navigate the rockiest of relationships.

Now, if I could only remember to follow my own advice….

Sunday Books: Uncharted Territory and Dead in The Family

I was sick this weekend and confined to bed for much of the time. On the bright side, since I had no energy for anything else, it provided a good opportunity to catch up with some reading.

I began by finishing Uncharted Territory by Connie Willis. I did enjoy this little foray into Science Fiction.  Taking place on a remote planet, 2 Earth scientists had the task of mapping and exploring the land, guided by one of the indigenous life forms. They were soon accompanied by a specialist in alien mating behaviour. Not much actually happened in this story, however as it progressed, relationships were explored and mysteries were revealed. It was always humourous and moved along at a satisfying pace. I found it diverting, but also quite forgettable. I’d recommend it if you are after a quick, humourous distraction, but it is certainly not great literature. That said, the characters were entertaining and well developed, which is an achievement in such a brief novella. I am led to believe that Connie Willis is an excellent author, so perhaps this is not representative of her best work.

After I finished Uncharted Territory, I set about selecting a new book to read. Bed-bound, I decided the best choice was something I could download to my Kindle App from the Amazon Store.

I spent quite a while searching through the selection there. Amazon recommends books to me based on what I’ve bought in the past. I toyed with the idea of reading “Room” by Emma Donaghue, which had excellent reviews. It is told from the perspective of 5 year old Jack who, with his mother, is imprisoned in a single room. Its the only life he has ever known. Then I decided I really didn’t want to deal with anything that might be vageuly harrowing, so decided to read “Death in The Family” by Charlaine Harris instead.

“Dead in The Family” is the tenth in the Sookie Stackhouse series that the TV series True Blood is based on.

I started reading the series a few years ago, and they have always been a guilty pleasure. They are very trashy literature and remind me of Harlequin romances, with vampires thrown in.

Like Harlequin romances, they follow a formula. The men are all unbelievably attractive, the heroine, Sookie, is also unbelievably attractive, but of course is also modest and doesn’t understand the effect she has on all these men.

Somehow, Sookie is always  in some sort of danger and the vampires or other supernatural creatures need to protect her. In doing that, they endanger themselves and Sookie heroically rises above her human limitations to defeat the enemies and protect her men.

This novel continued nicely from the previous in the series. It tied up a few loose ends that I had been wondering about as well. The story was silly as usual, but pleasantly diverting and an undemanding way to pass the time while sick in bed.

The Meaning of Dreams

Dreams fascinate me and for years a hobby of mine has been interpreting them. It amazes me how so many of us have the same or very similar dreams.

I have a recurring dream in which my teeth start to fall out. Sometimes they don’t actually fall out, but become very loose and I have to keep pushing them back into my gums until I get to a dentist. Of course the dentist is never available – he will have moved offices, or be closed.

According to an article I read in a 1980s Australian Women’s Weekly, its a classic anxiety dream. The teeth represent control and when you have the teeth falling out dream it tells you that there is an area of your life you are afraid you have lost control of. I don’t know how reliable the AWW is when it comes to dream interpretation, but the teeth-falling-out dream certainly coincides with some of my periods of anxiety.

My favourite guide to dream interpretation a book called “Dreaming True”

Unlike the dream dictionaries out there which give you a list of common themes and tell you what they symbolise, Dreaming True gives you a list of questions to ask yourself about your dreams. Whenever I interpret one of my dreams using the list, I have some sort of epiphany about my life. There is usually something I need to do, or something I need to resolve – its all bubbling around in my unconscious mind and the dreams are my mind’s attempt to bring things to the surface.

2 weeks ago I had a series of dreams that were very distressing. In the first, my boyfriend and I were co-conspirators in a Dexter like assassination plot.We had to murder some man, I’m not sure why. After the man had been killed, I looked down at him and realised it was my boyfriend lying there – dead. I cradled him in my arms, and begged him to come back to life, but it was hopeless.

The dream was so distressing that I woke up and it took me some time to get back to sleep.

When I finally did return to sleep, I dreamed that we were skydiving. We jumped out of the plane, but our rip cords wouldn’t work, so we were plummeting towards earth and certain death.

I woke up again. After falling asleep again I had a third dream. This time we were snorkelling around the Great Barrier Reef when all of a sudden we were attacked by a group of hungry sharks. We were about to be ripped apart by their jaws when I awoke.

The next morning the dreams’ meaning became immediately obvious. The previous weekend I had been an absolute b*** to my poor boyfriend. He was out most of the weekend and I was annoyed because I was stuck with all the chores – again. I gave him a really hard time on the few occasions we did spend time together that weekend – which was stupid. It would have been so much better to be just enjoying the time we had.

Anyway, the dreams were a warning from my subconscious that if I kept carrying on like that I could destroy our relationship (shark and parachute dream) and lose him forever (accidently killing my boyfriend dream). 

Needless to say, I apologised to my boyfriend and have been super nice to him ever since.

Have you ever had a dream with a message or have recurring dreams? Do you think dreams have messages for us, or is dream interpretation just a load of old bollocks? I’d love to hear what you think, so please leave a message in the comments.