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Election Love and Hate

On Saturday Australia held it’s federal elections. If you’re not Australian you might not be familiar with how this works. Voting is compulsory – if you are 18 or older you are expected to enroll to vote (most people do) and if you are enrolled to vote you are required to attend the voting place, have your name checked off the list, and post your voting papers into the appropriate cardboard box (we have a bicameral system, so we vote for members of a lower and upper house). If, in between having your name checked off and putting the sheets of paper into the box, you also want to step into a private booth and vote, you can do that. You don’t have to. But, while you’re there, why not.

Voting is anonymous. Voting is also based on preference rather than first-past-the-post. Therefore, you don’t just vote for who you most want to win, you also say who your second, third, fourth (and so on) choice would be, if you first choice doesn’t get enough votes.

Indonesia is the worlds biggest democracy. America is, perhaps, the most famous, but personally (and with obvious bias) I think Australia is the best.

That said, I was a lot more excited about voting when I was in my 20s. Now, I’m much more disillusioned, not just by the politicians who speak in rhetoric and tell lies and half-truths, but also by the vitriol and recriminations that appear around election time. The idea that, if someone doesn’t vote the way you would vote they must be an idiot, is offensive to me. My parents, for example, are intelligent, well read and engaged people. So am I. We didn’t vote the same way. That doesn’t make either of us less intelligent. It makes us human.

My husband and I hardly ever vote the same way. So far, we’ve avoided a divorce.

I think the thing I like least is the labeling. All political parties have numerous policies on numerous issues. Some of those policies even conflict (they think we don’t notice). Unless you are a rusted on supporter of a party, it’s unlikely that you won’t have to weigh up priorities and make compromises when you vote. But, when we label people Left or Right, liberal (small ‘l’ liberal) or conservative, or anything else, we ignore this.

I think labeling works well for objects. I don’t think it works well for people. People are like tomatoes. Are they a fruit? A vegetable? Both?

All that said, being able to vote – a right and a duty that people died for me to have – fills me with pride. And, with each election, I am refilled with hope that the people elected will take all Australia’s people towards a brighter future. It remains to be seen, of course.

If all else fails – we’ll have another crack at it in four years.

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Good Morning

I’m a morning person. Morning, in my opinion, is the best time of the day. It’s also my most productive part of the day. I achieve more between eight and ten in the morning than I can in the whole of the afternoon.

That said, before I had kids my mornings were much more restful. When I was in my last years of high school I was up at 5 to study and complete homework. I would turn my tiny heater on, pop my ear-buds in, and work away. This continued until I started to share my bed full time, then I found the other person under the doona wasn’t keen on loosing his living hot water bottle. And besides, it’s nicer to sleep-in when someone’s giving you a cuddle.

Now, when I drag myself out of bed at 6, there’s already two little people up. They seem to start the day like horses start a race. There’s no time for a gentle cup of tea and a perusal of the paper. They have questions, demands, they’re hungry and simultaneously too sick to go to school.

And on the weekend, they watch people play Minecraft. I miss watching actual cartoons, with characters and a storyline. Now I get to watch (usually) young men explain how to make a portal to the Nether (did I spell that right? If you’re interested, you need lots of obsidian blocks and a steel and flint). I know you-tubers like Poet and MC Naveed. Theoretically I could go sit somewhere else but I like to be with my kids (especially on the weekends) and I like to know what they’re watching, because not everything on the internet is suitable (I know. I was shocked too).

But, it does make mornings much louder and prone to zombie attack then they were when I was younger.

I suppose, though, the day will come when they’ll want stay in bed until lunch and I’ll have my mornings back to myself.

I’m not sure I’m actually looking forward to that.

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The Unsociablity of Social Media

Apparently ‘unsociablity’ isn’t a word. But ‘unsociable’ is and ‘sociability’ is so I’m just combining them. It’s probably an unfair thing to say, anyway. I find social media unsociable but clearly millions of people don’t.

It is overwhelming. I can’t be the only one who feels that. This year I’m trying to get on top of my use of social media. I visited a social media consultant, Media Tribe, who were brilliant, because I know that social media is a key tool in any author’s toolbox. This is my job, not my hobby, and thus I need to make use of means of marketing that other authors use.

Continue reading “The Unsociablity of Social Media”
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It’s All About Faith

Are you over your chocolate hangover? Or are you still finding foil wrappers tucked in the couch cushions? Of course, this only applies if you actually celebrate Easter. For those of you who don’t, be kind to your friends and colleagues who are wandering around with wide eyes and a sugar high that will last the rest of the week.

Of course, many of these Easter refugees won’t actually be practising Christians. I wonder, now, if there are more people following Christian tradition because it’s, well, traditional, than because they actually want to commemorate the death of Christ. To be honest, over recent years, I’ve begun to wonder if I fall more into this category too.

Has God been judged, and found wanting?

And, does it matter? For me it does. Isn’t it hypocritical to go through the motions of Christian tradition, if you’re no longer sure of your faith? I have no answer for these questions (please enlighten me if you do) but I’m irritated that I didn’t leave the existential angst behind in my moody teens (I wasn’t actually that moody, but you know what I mean).

I know, I know. This is too deep for a Monday. I’m sorry. Blame it on the chocolate.

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Home, Away, Home Again

We’ve been away. The thing about going away is, no matter how wonderful the trip, it’s always such a relief to get home. I don’t know if it’s the journey, or the strange bed or the rich food but being away is always more draining to be at home and it certainly makes me appreciate my own little corner of the world.

Our trip this time was to South Australia, a state I’d never visited before. We spent time with my younger brother, visited Hahndorf (which apparently was the first settlement set up for non-English settlers) and saw the pandas at the zoo. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen pandas in real life so I was thrilled. The place we stayed was very close to the water, so we had a lot of long walks on the beach.

And despite all that, I am so glad to be home again.

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What the Wrestling Can Teach You

My husband loves the wrestling. As in, incredibly athletic men and women inside a ring pretending to fight in the most spectacular way. Wrestling may be fake (please, don’t look so shocked) but I have no doubt the talent and endurance (and injuries) of the performers is completely real.

I don’t mind the wrestling either, but the thing I love most is the stories. The writers are masters of conflict and tension (for a great article on conflict, check out this post on Writers in the Storm). The stakes are always epic, the rivalries are always intense, and the characters walk through ever shifting shades of grey. These characters don’t just want to win (we all want to win), they’re willing to do anything to win. Coz, let’s face it, the writers need to create characters that people don’t just like, they need to write characters who’s t-shirt people want to wear.

I assume that’s why my husband has those shirts, anyway.

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Friends Make the World Beautiful

Over the weekend I went away with some women I’ve been friends with since high-school. We soaked in the beautiful hot springs on the Mornington Peninsula and airbnb-ed (yes, I did just use it as a verb) a house in Dromana.

I’ve known most of these women since I was thirteen and one of them since I was seven (at the most). They know things about me that no one else could possibly know. And, they love me for who I am, even when I don’t love myself. I always say that you only need one good friend to survive high-school – two as a bonus in case one of you is away – but I was blessed with a large group of friends who I knew always had my back. I’m further blessed that some of these friends have grown with me into adulthood.

Love and friendship are easy to give, they’re also incredibly powerful. When the world feels scary and confusing, it’s tempting to withdraw from others but it’s a temptation, I think, we need to fight. Because it’s friendship that makes the world a beautiful place.

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Australia Day

I know what you’re thinking. Today is Tuesday but this is not a two-sentence story. I know, but yesterday was a holiday because Australia Day fell on a Saturday this year (and Australian’s love a long weekend). So I spent yesterday frolicking at the beach with my family and that’s put me a bit behind.

The thing about Australia Day is that, it’s not really Australia’s Day – not for everyone. Australia has a long history of brutalising and demeaning non-Anglo people, beginning with the Indigenous people of this country after colonisation followed the landing of the First Fleet on January 26th, 1788.

Australia’s history is not unique. All over the world colonisation brought pain and suffering to the indigenous people of different countries. The past cannot be changed…but people, ideas and sentiments do change.

Modern Australia is not the Australia that once was. Australia Day is a reflection of the sentiments, ideas and beliefs of a certain time. Thankfully, that time has passed. And I have no doubt that my grandchildren will probably celebrate the wonderfulness that is Australia on a completely different date.

And it will be a day that all Australians – Australians who’s ancestry is over two-millennia old and Australians who are freshly arrived and everyone in between, can enjoy and take pride in, together.

And hopefully it will be in February, because we really need a long-weekend slotted in there.