Like fiery eyeball thing, no problem. But don’t even try to imagine a Samoan elf. (x)

In light of George Brandis’ comment that “Australians have the right to bigots” I thought it pertinent to reblog this. Oh, and Mr Brandis, no we don’t. 

(via clementineford)

"I’m struck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritise in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up you time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance."

Haruki Murakami

Buy more art

This artwork is by a very talented friend of mine, ingrid k. brooker. I like her stuff. A lot. But I’ve never bought anything. I don’t know why that is.

So this year, I’m going to change that. You can too by clicking on the link above to a site where ingrid has some things for sale. 

Alternatively, you may have your own friend who does something creative you love that you’ve never bought before. That’s one thing you could do this week that would tip the scales of the world a little more in the right direction.

Thank you Sheryl Sandberg


I know a lot of people have problems with Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In movement, but I’m not one of them.

I recently spent a few weeks debating about whether I should try and change things up in my career and apply for a new opportunity, but spent a lot of time doubting myself. 

And then I heard Sheryl, or at least what she sounded like in my head before I’d also watched her TED talk and knew how she sounded, saying,

"Lean in!"

"Fake confidence until you have it"

"Sit at the table"

And the rest. 

So I listened, I dusted off the resume, I applied, and I wait.

Even if I don’t get the role, I’m relieved I didn’t sit on my hands and watch the opportunity go by.

Leaning in feels good!

p.s. I got the job!

Image: Meeting a community farm group led by a headstrong, delightful woman (in the red head scarf) in Zimbabwe.

Giving out a polaroid picture; tripod in the village; teaching the kids how to work a camera; three little pigs; arms up; radio; kids as camera experts again; laughing at me; tobacco plants - Malawi.

Tags: Malawi CARE

Waking up in Lilongwe, Malawi

It’s 5am and I’m listening to the birds wakeup around me, the crickets chirp. It’s quiet, apart from the wildlife. 

Today is my first day out of a week where I’m working in Malawi, interviewing people who are part of CARE’s projects. I love this part of my job, and feel privileged that I get to connect with the people we work for in Australia. It feels good to feel the world connected and close.

I’m reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, enjoying it, and am wondering what should come next. 

And in all this reading and traveling, and knowing that in our world of plane travel, we are never really more than a day away from wherever it is you think is far away, it becomes impossible to ignore “over there”. Nothing is really “over there” anymore. 

Not our carbon emissions, not our environmental pollution, not the people who make our clothes, or package our food, or build and design our gadgets. In this connected world we are all neighbours.

There is no excuse for turning away.

Tags: malawi travel

Waiting for the plane

I have experience in airports. Rating them has, unsurprisingly become a habit. Perth International Airport gets. 2.5. One point for the view, one for the air conditioning (it was 43 degrees outside at 6pm. Really.) and half a point for the man next to me playing his iPad music collection without earphones. Hello ABBA, it’s been a while.

With two hours passed and another three to go, I am recalling the banality of Brunei International Airport and remembering to be thankful. At least there aren’t toy oil rigs for sale here. Yet.

But what makes a five star airport? Here are a few suggestions:

- enough adequate seating
- free internet
- a newsagent/book shop
- clean toilets, bonus for free showers
- free computers to use free internet
- good duty free options
- money exchange place with reasonable rates
- post office or place to buy stamps and post mail.
- free drinking water.

Perth, you’re half way there.

Contemplating 2013 - reflections on a big year

And just like that 2013 has come to an end. The year was a significant one for me personally. A quick look back at what happened, and what it all means is always a good way to start a new year. I’ve picked three things to focus on, so here goes.

1. Engaged and Married

I wasn’t going to include engaged in this bit, and just refer to the marriage, however this would be leaving out an intense six month period. In February, he proposed in the middle of the bush. We drank champagne by the waters’ edge, watching it cascade down the rocks. Joy, love, and excitement at the deepening of us filled me to bursting. It was a special day, and an incredible time getting used to the idea that someone loved me that much and I loved them that much back.

We celebrated. A lot. And we soon decided a swift wedding was a good idea.

Together we planned the actual wedding day, and also began really contemplating a whole l-i-f-e together, well into our old age. We talked about the things we wanted to do together, the kind of lives we want to lead with each other, our priorities, and our love.

And then our wedding day came, and we stood before our family and friends and made that huge commitment and had a fabulous love party. It was sensational, and the following five months of marriage have been too.

2. Content with my work

For the first time in my adult life I have clocked up three years in the same job, at the same work place. As the time has passed, the role has grown into one which is mostly fulfilling, generally rewarding, and I feel lucky to have a special bunch of colleagues who make turning up every day a good thing. It helps that I believe deeply in the work of helping to empower people living in extreme poverty to improve their lives. I also worked out that by the end of 2013, I have spoken to around 30,000 Australians about poverty and its solutions since I started the job. Unbelievable. 

3. Learning about meaning

This one sounds strange, I know. To explain, I have spent a lot of time reading about the things which help to live a ‘good’/’meaningful’ life. For years now I have accepted that the work/money/stuff cycle is ultimately unfulfilling. But what I have struggled with more is defining, or ‘knowing’ perhaps, what is important to include in living a meaningful life. 

After a few years of toying around the edges, I really focused on this in 2013. I’ve consulted books, articles, magazines, links, people, films and more, and have found the following particularly helpful in this: Brain Pickings, Dumbo Feather mag, New Philosopher mag, Lean In (the book), High Sobriety (the book), Jessica Stanley’s Read.Look.Think, in case you want to explore yourself.

And all of this has helped lead me to my theme for 2014: you are what you do every day.

Because I have been very good at making big changes like eating more ethically, not shopping at the duopoly, composting all household food scraps, growing herbs, making mindful purchases, saving well, traveling, loving deeply - all New Years’ Resolutions of the past, but what I falter on is consistently doing the things needed to live a good and meaningful life. 

So much of the above requires substituting one thing for another. Vegetables and sustainably-caught seafood for meat. The local grocer over Coles. You get the idea. But less ‘obvious’ is the way to achieve the overall sense of a life well lived.

Throughout 2013, the process of understanding what this is for myself was challenging and rewarding. And here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • It’s all about people. Love them, listen to them, visit them, connect with them. A life without loved ones is empty, and love takes time - there are no short cuts.
  • Work hard in an area that keeps you interested, but not at the expense of people. Work well and get the job done, and always leave enough time for your people every day.
  • Sleep - get enough.
  • Daydream - idle minds are great idea generators.
  • Food - “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. 
  • Money - control it before it controls you (thanks Barefoot). Share your wealth with those less fortunate, too.

It’s a work in progress, but I feel better equipped this Jan 1 to live a good/meaningful life than I did last Jan 1.

Now, to do more of that, and consolidate that list.

Happy 2014!

Image: My niece reaching out to one of her great loves.

Tags: nye2013

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern."

Annie Dillard as quoted in the wonderful Brain Pickings. 

This is my theme for 2014: you are what you do everyday. 

Every year I give family and friends a CARE Gift. At this time of year especially I like to donate money to those living in poverty while I spend the holidays with those I love. 

This year I gave school books, mosquito nets, drought resistant seeds (mum loves gardening) and organic fertiliser (I do live in hipsterville in Melbourne) and a chicken (for my niece, she loves animals).

There’s still time to order your e card, which comes with a sweet little video showing your gift at work in poor communities (like this one). 

Be generous people.

Keeping it interesting in the backstreets of Fitzroy, Melbourne

Keeping it interesting in the backstreets of Fitzroy, Melbourne

Same sex marriage - it’s time Australia

As a huge supporter of same sex marriage, the overturn of same sex marriage laws in Australia today saddened me deeply. Making a declaration of love and commitment to my husband is one of the highlights of my life, and such an important part of our relationship. 

So I thought I would take the time today to highlight a section of our wedding ceremony, which was said just before we exchanged vows.

"Before exchanging their vows, Lyrian and Steve would like to express their support for equal marriage, and their hope that all loving couples will soon have the choice to marry each other just as they are today."

It was extremely important to us while planning our wedding to incorporate this commitment, and I am so very glad we did.

Australia, it’s time.

"The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It’s a juvenile notion and it’s still being argued in my country passionately and we’re going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I’m astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?"

— David Simon, the creator of The Wire writes “There are now two America’s. My country is a horror show" in The Guardian.

Where to stay in Athens

A few months ago, I married a pretty cool fella, and we celebrated with a love party (a.k.a. wedding) and a love fest (a.k.a. honeymoon). Given travel to developing countries is a wonderful, albeit infrequent, part of my job, we were keen to taste a bit of Europe. And by taste, I do mean taste (OMG the food!)

We spent a week here:


And then split our time between Athens, Rhodes and Santorini in Greece. Yes, it was sensational. But what I really want to talk about is our hotel in Athens: New Hotel Athens. Ah-mazing. But I’ll let the pictures doing the talking:


The lobby

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"I was the first of my family to finish school, the first to complete a tertiary education. Like my younger siblings, I surfed the pent-up force of my parents’ thwarted hopes. They wanted us to have lives that were less subject to the whims of others - the bosses my grandfather spoke of - and they knew that access to education was the key. No one in my family spoke about the economics; the future was never about money. What my parents dreamt of was simply a larger, more open existence for their children."

— Tim Winton writing in The Monthly talking class. A lot of this resonates with people I have met from poor communities overseas, as well as the experience of my own family. We are all the same.