I hope I’m never popular

If you’re Australian, you’ll be aware that some of us, if not all of us, suffer, in varying degree’s, from ‘tall poppy syndrome’. If you’re not Australian and reading this, here’s the definition of ‘tall poppy syndrome’, courtesy of this site:

In 1931 J.T. Lang, Premier of New South Wales gave the term tall poppy to all those on government salaries above £10 per week (a princely sum in those days).

Today the tall poppy is usually someone who is very successful in their field.

Unfortunately, Australia has developed what we call the Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS). This is the action of eagerly pulling down the more successful people in our society should they show the slightest imperfection.

Is this done to everyone who is successful? Actually no. It tends to be aimed at those people the public perceives as being arrogant or not deserving the amount of success they’ve achieved.

While I’m not sure I actively eagerly pull people down, I do have my own passive aggressive version going on. I simply refuse to watch or listen or read those things that are deemed popular.

Here’s a list of things I have not watched or read or worn, without having to think too much:

the Harry Potter series

Forrest Gump

Dances with Wolves

The Titanic

Breaking Bad series

Finding Nemo

Fifty Shades of Grey (if I ever do read this, please, someone lock me up)

Any of the Batman movies

Game of Thrones – series or books

I dislike just about every famous person except Jennifer Lawrence and Jamie Oliver and Sting

I’ve never bought a ‘label’ piece of clothing. I think I do have some but they were either given to me or bought at op shops

If I thought about it a bit harder, I could bore you even further, but luckily for you, I need to write this fast so I can finish cooking tea.

I’m not sure why I’m like this, except that I have always had a strong aversion to doing what everyone else is doing, watching, reading. I remember even waaaaaay back in school, I never bothered with the soapies that everyone else was watching (I never watch Twin Peaks, for example), or cared what the latest trend of fashion was, or was enamoured with that new ‘cool’ boy. I have just always preferred to cut my own path.

Sometimes, that comes back to bite me. For instance, I’m a terrible person to have on your trivia team, I won’t be able to talk to you about the latest TV show,  I’m not much fun to take clothes shopping unless it’s to the op shops, and I certainly won’t be able to swap celebrity gossip stories with you. I may also stare blankly at you if you quote a ‘popular’ movie or book.

And, I have just realised, as I tap away every day at my keyboard adding words to the book I’m trying to write – what if one day I’m popular and sell millions and millions of books and JK Rowling asks me to tea and Oprah wants to re-launch her talk show just so she can interview me?  What then???

I’ll have to not like myself! I’ll have to not read my own books and not go see all three movies from my own trilogy!

Luckily, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. And if it did, I would most certainly have to change my tune and wouldn’t I have an awful lot of ‘popular’ movies and books to catch up on!

A view from on (not too) high

Helicopter view

Today, my husband and I finally went on the helicopter flight I had bought him for his birthday last year. It was fantastic. Perfect clear sky, no wind and due to a ‘no-show’, it was just us and the very friendly 22 year old pilot.

I’m not a huge fan of flying of any sort, and when in a standard aeroplane, I always book an aisle seat so I don’t have to look out the window and see the yawning gap between me and solid ground. My husband, however, loves it. He’s been up in a drifter, six seater plane, hot air balloon and now, to round out the set, a helicopter. (He will accept any offers to take him up in a military jet, bi-plane or rocket, so let me know…I need a gift for this years present!)

I’m certainly not the first one to talk about the perspective one gains from being above the earth and the parallels with life.

Yet for me, it was such a different view than any I’ve experienced before. What I loved about the helicopter view is that it wasn’t too high.

When you’re up in a big plane, you soon lose sight of the earth and are above the clouds; in a helicopter, you can see the ground the whole time.

A ‘helicopter’ view is different to a ‘big plane’ view in that you are still close enough to see details and get an overview of how things are. Things look small but still significant, unlike from a big plane where the buildings and landscape are soon reduced to blurry specks.

Sometimes, we need to view our lives more from a helicopter perspective than a plane. To still see the details and be able to recognise the objects on our landscape enables us to properly work on whatever problem we may be facing. Problems don’t disappear or become covered in cloud, but they are put into perspective. A helicopter view gives us enough height to see things for what they are  – important but probably not as tall and consuming as it feels close up.

We don’t always need the long view of our issues which can make us feel like our problems are insignificant, when, often, they are real and need addressing.

Sometimes, we just need to hover a little while in a helicopter, gain some perspective and an acknowledgement that the problem is indeed there. Then we can assess what changes need to be made with greater insight and precision.

Does your life need a ‘helicopter’ view?

Me and women’s events

Maybe it was being exposed to too many church women’s camps/groups/meetings growing up; maybe it’s because I never got along with the girls as easily as the boys during school or at youth group; or maybe I just have some issues that should be sorted out lying on a couch in a doctors office.

You see, I’m not that fond of women as a gender whole. There are plenty of individual women I love and would crawl over hot coals for but collectively, I can take or leave them.

I have always studiously avoided anything with the word ‘women’ in the title. If it’s expressly for women, I either don’t go, or grit my teeth and bite my tongue the entire time. And I’m equally aggravated by ‘men’s’ events (why do men always have ‘men’s breakfasts’????)

While I am not fond of gender specific events, I am passionate about justice.

Last night I watched a documentary about the Delhi rape case,  and just prior to that another documentary called I am a girl. And then went to bed sickened and heavy hearted at how women all around the world are being treated.

According to Indian government statistics, a woman is raped every 22 minutes on average. Just think about that.

And don’t forget that other alarming statistic – every 26 seconds a child is trafficked into slavery.

These statistics make me angry. Really angry.

I’m angry that girl babies are aborted, abandoned and killed simply because they are not in possession of a penis. I’m angry girls are denied an education; are treated as worse than dogs; are seen as nothing more than property; are forced, as young as five, to be the sex slave for upwards of 40 men a night. I’m angry that girls are the recipients of acid attacks, simply for choosing not to talk to a boy. I’m angry that no matter whether a female is wearing a bikini or a burqa, it’s still her fault if she is raped.

And I’m angry that not everyone is angry.

But I’m angry that this is happening to humans. I’m equally angry that atrocities are happening to boys too. It just seems that the weight of these issues is on the female side of the scales and that the perpetrators are predominantly male.

So, I’ve realised why I’m not into events/groups/camps that focus on ‘women’. Generally, and I do mean generally – there are always exceptions, these events are all about finding ourselves, telling us we are wonderful, beautiful and unique. And while those things might be worthwhile, even necessary for some, I find it hard to take it seriously when our sisters across the world are  struggling to stay alive; when the shape of your genitalia quite literally dictates your survival and future.

I know that in the western world there are still inequalities galore. But I also know that, again, generally speaking, we don’t know the half of what it’s like to be maligned, persecuted and discriminated against due to our gender.

So, instead of having fluffy meetings that stroke my ego, nurture my misplaced sense of entitlement and seek mainly to make me ‘feel good about myself’, why can’t we have more events for women and men about what we can do to bring about justice for our fellow humans?

If men’s and women’s events empower and educate about the world and the pressing issues and what we can do about it, then I’m all for them. I still don’t know why they have to be either for men or for women, but I’ll take what I can get.

There is no way, in our technological age, to avoid knowing about the injustices and cruelties that are occurring. What then remains is what you will do about it.

It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.~ Mary Wollstonecraft.

Weeds and roots

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Friis Photography

Yesterday, we got stuck into the garden. And once we started, it became abundantly apparent the amount of work that needed to be done.

We have a star jasmine, which we love, but it has a weed vine growing through it, which we hate.

I began pulling it off, unwrapping it from around the stems and leaves. Sometimes, I would grab part of the vine that was long and twining round and round. As anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of gardening (which is about my level!) would know, unless you get the root of a weed, it will simply grow back.

And in this particular case, the roots were hard to trace and once found, even harder to pull out.

As I worked, it reminded me of when we have things in our life that bind us, that choke out the healthy things. We can pull the leaves and stem off, cut them and throw them away, but unless we get to the root of the problem, those issues will remain.

Often those roots are not easy to see, requiring us to pull other things away until they are exposed and we can deal with them.

It’s no good to simply deal with what we can see, we need to address those roots that are hidden in the dark places of our lives.

It’s only when we expose things to the Light that real change can occur. It takes effort, determination and a willingness to get rid of that which may be familiar but is ultimately strangling us.

But just like in my garden, the end result is well worth the blisters, scratches and aching muscles. Well worth it, indeed.