Sunday Everyday

The Rise of Rich Face

Have a look at this picture.  Have a good hard look.  What do you see?

old lady guadalajjara 2

I see a woman who has lived a full and rich life hiding behind a mask of youth.

Is this mask demanded of us?  Do we place it upon ourselves?  Are we so ashamed and afraid of getting older that we hide behind false youth and cosmetic procedures.

I took this photo recently whilst on a trip to Mexico.  It was hanging in the Cultural Institute of Cabanas in Guadalajara.  Undoubtedly the finest place for art in Jalisco.  Once a home for orphaned children it is now home to several art galleries.   Unfortunately I forgot to take down the name of the artist and I wish I knew the year that this was painted.

Once upon a time,  growing old was seen as honourable.  The elderly were revered and held positions of honour in the community.

Today Growing old gracefully is increasingly seen as a failure to make the best of yourself – and even shows a lack of respect for the self and or for others. Some might say that you have “let yourself go”.

One day when I was walking arm in arm with an Aunt, I would have been about 22.  I can clearly remember thinking, “I cant wait to get old…. I will be wise… I will be able to help people… I will be respected and revered”.

Now getting old is seen as a fate worse than death.  For the first time in human history, 

“The young have become a model of emulation for the older population, rather than the other way around,” Richard Harrison

The problem does not stop here.

It is not enough any more just to have youth on your side.  We don’t just worship youth,  we worship the youth of the medias imagination.   Now the pressure is on us to be a ‘perfect youth’.   One that hopefully looks a lot like Jenna Kardashian or Barbie.

Recent studies, have revealed how much this is affecting people – particularly girls of a young age. The Girls’ Attitudes survey has shown how body image worries affect many aspects of young girls lives – stopping them wearing the clothes they like, having their pictures taken, taking part in sport and speaking up in class.

The survey reports that 47% of girls aged 11 to 21 say the way they look “holds them back”, while 69% of girls age seven to 11 feel like they are not good enough.

A recent pilot study has found girls as young as 11 are seeking cosmetic surgery for their genitals. What’s going on?  Andrew Trounson, University of Melbourne

When I was 11 I was obsessed with wanting to be Heidi and living on a mountain with goats, eating cheese and hard bread.  I vaguely recall thinking I had two bottoms but that was the end of it.  I certainly would not have know what a labia was.  

This new pilot study is aimed at understanding why a growing number of Australian girls, as young as 11, are seeking cosmetic surgery on their otherwise normal genitals.

University of Melbourne health researcher Emma Barnard says: “Pictures in textbooks and magazines are stylised or airbrushed, and there is a real lack of understanding about the real range of genital diversity.”

I am sorry, I must live under a rock, but how are tween girls getting access to stylised or airbrushed pictures of their genitals?  

The desire to look picture perfect in today’s camera culture fuels this over-the-top approach to grooming and has extended to our genitals.  The rise in pornography has also given rise to the desire for highly sexualised body shapes and images.

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 “The selfie has turned an extreme aesthetic that wouldn’t normally be acceptable into something people want on a daily basis,” explains Melissa Gibson, a senior artist for M.A.C Cosmetics. “It doesn’t appear very natural outside of a photograph, but for some women, that synthetic look is now part of the appeal.” Some choose to make their exaggerated features more permanent with the help of injectables.

A recent study by the University of Macquarie has linked the time women spend on Instagram per day with the level of body dissatisfaction they experience. Women are also likely to experience more body image issues when they use social media to compare themselves to celebrity.

These cosmetic procedures have produced the term Rich Face.  This is where women and girls are proud to wear their over exaggerated features as a badge of wealth.  Much like wearing or showing off $500.00 bag or shoes.  It is now a status symbol.

The most common cosmetic procedures sought out by teens:

If teens are facing this pressure,  imagine the pressure on the ancient 30 plus year olds.  

Did you know that Australia has leapt ahead of America regarding cosmetic surgery.  Australians love plastic surgery. That’s $1bn-worth of  love.

Roughly 500,000 cosmetic procedures were carried out last year. That includes 20,000 boob jobs, 8000 breast argumentations , 30,000 liposuction procedures and $350m dollars’ worth of Botox injections. (Reference)

The fastest growing area of cosmetic work is in non-surgical enhancements. In Australia we know that procedures like dermal fillers for cheeks and lips, or anti-wrinkle injections such as Botox, are fast becoming the most popular choice for people looking to enhance their appearance.

In 2015, Australians spent over $1billion on non-surgical cosmetic procedures  – up from $773 million in 2012. (Reference)

The top five most popular procedures are anti-wrinkle injection, fillers, laser and IPL, breast augmentation and reduction and liposuction.  At the same time the cosmetic surgery industry is booming, eating disorders are the number one killer of any mental health disease in Australia. (Reference)

I am exhausted just writing this article.  The pressure to keep up, look better, look younger is horrific.

Don’t get me wrong,  I indulge in beauty procedures.  I have my eyebrows tinted, my hair dyed, my body and facial hair plucked and waxed.   I spend money on cosmetics and moisturizer.  But how far is too far?  When are we able to feel happy and safe in our own spotty, wrinkled skin.

What happened to the days when wrinkles and flabby skin were a sign of wisdom and respect.  Why are we repulsed by the road map of life etched upon the faces of our elderly? I used to love sitting on my nanas knee and playing with her flappy skin and looking for the red lights on her arms.

Red lights which I now have.

Red lights called cherry angiomas or senile angiomas.  Senile... that is a very strong word.  I will continue to call them red lights.

What happened to loving fresh faces and clean skin?

In 1970 – this was the face of cover girl.

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Move into the 1980’s and 1990’s – clean and fresh becoming replaced by sophisticated party looks.

2000 fresh skin is still looking good……..

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Fast Forward to 2016 and Cover Girl has its first guy as a spokesperson and we begin to see the shift to contouring and shape changing in makeup.

2018 and Cover Girl is now full into face shaping, contouring and  full features.

What am I trying to say?  

Fashion always comes, goes and turns around.  However, what was once used to enhance the features you were born with, is now being used to distort and stylise your features into those that resemble cosmetic procedures.  Actually into those that resemble a mask.  None of this is bad in itself, as long as you have a good grasp of who you are and actually like who you are.

Returning the original photo.  What happens to the woman under the mask?

old lady guadalajjara 2

What happens to her at the end of the day when the makeup comes off, when the procedures expire.  Is she happy with the person underneath?

Thus comes the saying. BE happy in your own skin.  

I have become a person obsessed with being happy in my own skin.  I am not sad about getting old.  I have worked bloody hard to get old and have the stripes and scars inside and out to prove it.  I feel like a warrior.

I also at times feel insecure and flabby and bumpy.  But I want to enjoy my later years and find joy in who I am within and without.  I want my daughters and my grand daughters to feel safe and happy in their own skins.  To know that they are beautiful because of the light that shines out of them and the brains and thoughts in their heads not the makeup on their faces.  I want them to know that kindness and grace and mercy are worth more than youth and good looks.

Beauty truly is only skin deep.  Like a flower, the beauty  of our youth will fade.  But it will be replaced with many stunning sunsets,  reflected in our wisdom, humour and grace.  The joy of being perfectly at peace and safe in our own skin.  Of rocking grand babies and holding family close and being able to say,  “Its okay,  this will pass.  I know for I have been there”.  You are safe and you are beautiful.

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Are you an Empath? 4 Special Traits.

Are you an Empath.  An empath is the ability to perceive the mental or emotional state of another individual.  I am an empath and it has both advantages and disadvantages.  If not recognised and managed it can exhaust you.

People who are empaths have these 4 special traits.

Woman with a personality that is too real

Empaths have a unique ability to tune into the way others are feeling and understand people on a level most of us can only dream of.

Many empaths are aware that they are different from other people, and sometimes their powers of perception make them feel uncomfortable around others.

The truth is, being able to read someone isn’t a curse, it’s a special ability that should be held in the highest regard.

After all, people are hard to understand, so if you have a leg up on the rest of the population, go ahead and work your magic.

If you are an empath, you’re probably hiding these 4 super powers, and you might not even know you have them.

1) You Have a Big Advantage Over Others

When you have empathic abilities, your brain is hardwired to make you the way you are. People aren’t comfortable with confronting emotion and so many empaths will ignore the feelings they get when they encounter people.

But for those of you who embrace your special powers, you will always have the advantage in conversation, relationships, work and more because you are tuned into what you are feeling and what those around you are feeling as well.

Many people walk around on a daily basis and don’t know what they are feeling, thinking, wishing for, wanting, and empaths know exactly what they desire, need, and feel.

This makes them more focused and aware of what will make them happy and and what will make them miserable.

empath traits quote

2) You Experience Ups and Downs

Because empathic people are very tuned into their feelings, this means that they experience emotion on a much higher level than most people do.

When other people are having a bad day, they usually feel down or sad for a while, but when empaths are having a bad day, it consumes their world.

They feel intensely, both good and bad.

But when they are having a good day, they let the light shine out of them like it was meant to, and that is something many people wish they could do more often and in an easier way.

3) You Can Read People’s Bullshit

One advantage of having an empathic personality is that you can tell when people are lying. Whether they are embellishing about their lunch or their income, you can sense the nuances that most people have when they are cooking up a story, and you don’t tolerate it.

This is a great ability to have because whether we like to admit it or not, a lot of people are full of it, and it can help when you can read a person to determine how trustworthy they may be.

empath traits quote

4) Your Creativity Shines

Empathic people are much more creative than the average person. You probably rely on your emotions to help you express yourself, but you might also express yourself through art or song.

What’s more, your creativity goes beyond a paintbrush and canvas: you are good at problem solving, seeing the positive in negative situations and can tolerate being uncomfortable for a while to earn the payoff in the end.

Saying Goodbye

Two weeks ago I buried my father.  It was a gut wrenching and awful lead up to his death.  Joseph Murray Cooper  died 5 months shy of turning 90 years old.

My dad was larger than life.  A cracking, loud laughing, charming, death-defying, adrenaline junkie.  A jockey, boxer and speed boat racer.

It was hard to see him shrivelled and tiny in the intensive care unit.  Struggling for every breath.  While we waited basically for him to starve to death.  Palliative and with notes to not take any heroic measures,  his heart beat on whilst we waited for his body to stop.  It was gruelling and grievous.  Surely there is a better way to die.

Whilst death is a natural process and 90 is a good age to die.  You are not prepared for all the memories that you have to process.  Whilst your loved one is dying, you are reliving the pain and the joy of fractured and broken relationships.  Sharing small hospital rooms with ex-spouses, ex-step brothers and sisters and total strangers that your father did life with after his life stopped with yours.

It is in times like these when I realise how big, elastic and encompassing love is.  We want to clutch love to our hearts and keep it to ourselves, but love has wings big enough to encompass everyone if you allow it too.

My father was a hero to many people.

It’s not easy to share your dad.  It’s easier to blame and to point to faults and relationship cracks.  If you are able, the pain lessens its grip on your soul when you allow others into your heart and give permission for others own him and call him their own.

Together we prepared his memorial service.  Two wives, four children, five step children and too many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to count.   All wept over his loss, all spoke of the way that he had changed their lives.

Dad was the father who looked not only after his own children and grandchildren in the best way that he knew how, but he also had room in his heart for his step daughters  their families.

Along with many others who needed his strength. He passed on the same sense of inclusion, humour and hospitality that he had learned in his own life’s journeys.

Dad made it through life because he was not afraid to share his love.

Born into the slums of Fitzroy in the depression of the 1930’s.   Within the space of  two and a half years, Dad  lost both his parents.  At 2 1/2 he  was given to another family to raise and was left with a note pinned to his chest.  He was 21 before he realised that this family  was  not his birth family.

Dad was the quintessential Aussie battler and to honour him we played the John Williamson song ‘True Blue’ at his funeral.

Hey True Blue, don’t say you’ve gone
Say you’ve knocked off for a smoko
And you’ll be back la-ater on
Hey True Blue, Hey True Blue

These were some of the words that I read at his funeral:

We cannot foresee the trials and misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know what Gods plan is for us. What we can do is to live out our life’s as best we can with purpose and with love and with joy.

We can use each day to show those closest to us how much they mean to us and as the old proverb says, to treat each other the way that we wish to be treated.

Dad was a humble man and would always admit his mistakes. We, like Joe,  can learn from our mistakes and rise out of suffering to make a new start. To strive at all costs to make a better world for our children and grandchildren to live in.

We do not weep for him today because of an unused life.

Dad lived every minute to the full. Squeezing out the marrow of every moment.

We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy.
“As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss. But we carry on because he would have wanted us to and because his love still offers light to guide us in this world”.
He leaves us with the extraordinary memories he gave.
His broad cheeky grin and sunburned face. His thick curly hair whipping in the wind behind the wheel of his boat. A whiskey in his hand and his devilish and deep-throated laugh. His irreverent humour and his shameless flirting with anything in a skirt.
May God Bless Joseph Peter Murray Cooper and may you rest in the peace you deserve.
We will miss you……… but you led a damm good life Dad and we are thankful to have had you in our lives.

We are Not Called to Follow an Organisation but a Way of Life.

I am the way, the truth and the life’ Jesus did not call people to join an organisation, but to follow a way of life. Ray Simpson

In the last few years I have had a lot of people asking me about community, church, gathering, attendance  etc…  In the last decade  our understanding of what it is to be a Christian or what it is to attend church has become very entrenched with the institutional model of attending church weekly on a Sunday.  Singing three fast songs, two slow songs,  having announcements, offering and a message.

I challenge you to show me where this model is reflected in the bible.

I constantly hear sentences like:  Where do you fellowship?  Where do you find like minded people?  Where do you attend?

Jesus us told us to go OUT into all the world.  His own life models being present in community, in every day life.

I have been challenged of recent years to be more present in my community.  To BE the presence of God IN my community.  To be available and to be salt and light.  That means being accessible and involved in the life of the community around me.

Not living in fear.  Not living in judgement and condemnation.  Just being who God created me to be and loving those around me.

I am moving further and further away from the  ‘us and them’ mentality and closer to just ‘us’.  In doing so I have met and am doing life with some of the most amazing humans on the planet.  There is no longer ‘us and them’.  There is just us and that is enough for me.  In fact I have had more God encounters in the last 4 years than in the previous  30.

For God so loved the world that He gave his only son Jesus.

I am sorry Christians but God does not love you more than anyone else.  God IS LOVE.  HE LOVES – everyone.  He loves the whole world and everything in it.

When we love,  we make an environment where the spirit of God can dwell because that is who he is.  People are drawn to love, they crave it and need it.  Love is the greatest power in the universe.  “For the greatest of these is LOVE”.

Dear friends, let us continuously love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God.

I no longer drive each week to a location to meet with other ‘Christians’.

I no longer spend all my time and energy ‘doing’ church I am the church.

I no longer worry about inviting people TO church.  I invite people to church every time I have a conversation with them and every-time I demonstrate the love and acceptance of Christ toward them.

This post from Rev Ray Simpson from the Way Marks of Life initiative explains it very well and it is different for all of us.  As long as we are following Christ and not the institution.

Way Marks Of Life

COMMUNITY IS NOT READY-MADE

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel… and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confidant in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear. Philippians 1:12, 14.

There is no ready-made Community on anyone’s doorstep. Unity with other members is rooted in the knowledge that we all follow the community’s Way of Life and that this reflects our deepest calling. Introduction to the Way of Life

Traveller        I want a community that is there for me every day where I live.

Guide             I encourage you to ask yourself this question: Which do you love most – God or your idea of a community?

Traveller        Why can’t I have both?

Guide             God comes first. God may give you what you long for but it will be on his terms, not yours.

Traveller        What do you mean?

Guide             The first issue to sort out is this: Is God calling you to live this Way of Life? If you commit to this, you will be led wherever God wishes to lead you. God may ask you to open your heart to local people and share in an existing group, or to draw new friends to meet together. God may, however, lead you to a different focus.

Traveller        Can you give an example?

Guide             The apostle Paul was asked to travel on missionary journeys. Then he was put under house arrest. He carried those he had met in his heart. He wrote letters to them and prayed for them but he had no ready-made community on his doorstep. This dispersed community of Aidan and Hilda may be like that.

Traveller        In what ways?

Guide             Some keep in touch through area groups, and occasional community events, others keep in touch with like-minded members through Skype, Facebook, email and other social media. All use the daily prayer diary. But there is something deeper that binds us together. When we truly ‘come home’ we are known as we are known.

Reflection

What is your deepest calling?

 

You can get Rays book here – Amazon.  Way Marks for the Journey

I am the way, the truth and the life’ Jesus did not call people to join an organisation, but to follow a way of life.

Under the guidance of Ray Simpson, renowned for his expertise in Celtic spirituality, this daily prayer book is structured according to the way of life adopted by the Community of Aidan and Hilda. Along with a short Bible reading and reflection, each day includes a step to enable readers to move away from what is destructive towards what is life-giving. There is also a unique spiritual breathing exercise following the rhythm with which our bodies breather, allowing us to pray with our very core, wherever we are.

 

If England Gets Beaten, So Will She

Last weekend in Australia we had three horrific murders of women at the hands of someone they knew.  Domestic Violence is so common now that it hardly makes the news.  One woman a week in Australia is still being killed by someone well known to them.

‘To say it’s been an awful week for women is an understatement. It’s been a horrific month and Saturday the 7th of July was diabolical’.  To date 34 women have been violently killed”.  (Womens Agenda)

According to the Counting Dead Women Australia researchers of Destroy The Joint it takes the number of Australian women violently killed in 2018 to 34.

Thirty four women killed in 27 weeks.

That is eight innocent victims of violence in a single month. Eight people forever gone. Countless more lives forever marked by this brutality.

If eight Australians had been killed in other circumstances – terror or negligence – tell me we wouldn’t have a task-force formed by now?

It is about to get worse.

Did you know that the statistics of Domestic Violence escalate when the football is on.

Ahead of this year’s World Cup, studies showing a correlation between violence and football were widely shared – with these reports finding that domestic abuse increases when England wins or loses a match.

The largest of the studies, conducted by Lancaster University in 2013, found that abuse increased by 26 per cent when England played and 38 per cent when they lost (source).

The reactive campaign for the National Centre for Domestic Violence has been launched as the World Cup picks up pace. It features images of national flags imprinted onto women’s faces in blood.

Statistics are the same in Australia for AFL Grand final and the Rugby League World Cup. While the State of Origin is playing, the  violence increases by 40 % (source). 

New data from the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research spanning six years from 2012 to 2017 indicates a 40.7 per cent average increase in domestic violence, and 71.8 per cent in non-domestic assaults across the state on Origin game days.

So while many of you are looking forward to the World Cup, Many women and families are dreading it.

Experts say the “disturbing findings” suggest the Origin’s “particular celebration of heavy drinking, masculinity, tribalism, and the toxic level of aggressive alcohol promotion have collided to encourage drinking to excess and domestic violence” (source)

Domestic violence

Domestic violence – refers to acts of violence that occur in domestic settings between two people who are, or were, in an intimate relationship. It includes physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse.

 

Yes, men can be victims too, but the overwhelming accounts of violence are from male perpetrators.  Both women and men are more likely to experience violence at the hands of men, with around 95% of all victims of violence in Australia reporting a male perpetrator.

So while you crack open a beer and sit back to watch the game.  Think of the women who are dreading the results, in more ways than one.

 

The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line — 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) — is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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How Much Longer?

How Much Longer?

Published on June 16, 2018 by Alisa Tanaka-King on The Bird Girls Blog

 

Alisa is a friend of mine who is passionate about halting the horrific body count of women lost to domestic violence.  Here are some of her thoughts which have been prompted by the recent shock of Eurydice Dixon’s murder.

Three things happened recently that made me lose a little faith in humanity.

A couple of weeks back, I was running an education program in schools called Respectful Relationships. The program is designed to assist schools in incorporating the new addition of Respectful Relationships into their curriculum. This is a direct result of the Royal Commission into family violence that found that one in three women experience violence by the age of 15.

I’ve put a lot of time and effort into designing this program with a group of dedicated, creative, conscientious, people. It has been a challenging, confronting, and exhausting process.

When presenting this program to schools, we generally receive very positive responses from both students and teachers, which is encouraging and rewarding. We’ve had brilliant conversations about gender stereotypes, deeply embedded social conditioning, and breaking down of barriers.

However, just the other week, I had an unpleasant wake up call reminding me how difficult it is to make fundamental change. At the end of running a school program for year 8, private secondary school boys, one of their teachers approaches us defensive and insulted.

Our boys aren’t like that.

Now I specify that this was a private all-boys school, as there seems to be an assumption that if you are of a high enough social class, you are immune to being a violent criminal. We don’t go to any school assuming that the students are rapists or murderers, and I don’t believe that any child grows up aspiring to be such.

The program we run is not directed at boys who already have a history of violence or crime.

The program we run is not only taught to boys – it is taught equally importantly to girls.  For us to make the ground-breaking changes necessary to end gender-based violence, everyone needs to be better informed.

But this teacher wasn’t finished.

Why don’t you talk about violent women at all? There are violent women too.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this. It’s not even the second. Or the third.I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Yes. Of course there are violent, terrible women.

Unfortunately there are hateful and destructive people in every gender, culture, religion, and race.

But this program is designed to help address the family violence crisis we are facing. The crisis where women are statistically at much greater risk of experiencing physical and emotional violence, controlling behaviour, and death.

We try to approach conversations like the one with this teacher in a positive, patient, and informative manner. We explain the statistics, and how important it is for everyone to be responsible and active in making fundamental societal change.

But really, I just wanted to lose all professionalism and shout at her.Oh, did I mention this was a female teacher?

I wanted to ask her if she had ever wondered if her skirt was too short? Her heels too high?

Had she ever parked in a spot that was too dimly lit?

Did she carry her keys between her knuckles late at night, phone clutched tightly in the other hand, wondering if she would be able to dial for help fast enough?

I wanted to know if she’s ever texted friends to let them know she got home safe?

Does she know how to walk quickly, but not so quickly that the stranger behind her thinks she’s rushing? Does she know that she shouldn’t have to be afraid as a default?

Honestly, I wasn’t even angry at this teacher.I was just gutted that one of our educators was unable to see why this is so important. I felt like everything we are working so hard to do fell on deaf ears, and I lost a little faith in humanity.

 A close friend of mine is pregnant, expecting her first child, a little girl.

She mentioned to me that she is conflicted.

She is a very strong, intelligent, independent woman who believes firmly in gender equality.

She doesn’t believe in victim blaming – of course no one deserves to be raped or murdered, and that should never be seen as the direct result of the decisions the victim has made.

But I will still warn my daughter not to walk home in the dark, teach her to be careful, teach her to be afraid. What else can we do? It just seems too difficult to change anything else.

I tried to explain the education program that I am running, but it sounded weak and useless against the reality of one woman murdered every week.

This kind of fundamental societal change takes too long for us not to teach our daughters to be cautious.

If I had a daughter I would teach her the same thing, and that breaks my heart, because it feels like admitting defeat. It feels like I’ve lost faith in humanity. And not just faith in the way our society currently functions, but faith in our ability to change and be better.

 And then, after a long day, I logged onto Facebook.

Now, my Facebook feed generally provides me with pretty like-minded views of the world, as I’m friends with pretty like-minded people. So, for the most part, facebook provides me with a lovely (though probably naive) little bubble of progressive, open-mined opinions.

But when I logged on this time, a male friend (and yes, it is relevant that he is male) had posted a status stating that he agreed with the Victoria Police statement asking people to take responsibility for their own safety. He then went on to question why anyone would disagree with this statement. In fairness, he approached this conversation openly, was sensitive, and welcomed comments and thoughts.

Of course excellent responses flooded in, explaining the frustration, unfairness and helplessness felt around the implications that this statement made. While the brilliant responses from both men and women gave me hope, I was still taken aback that this sort of view had to argued amongst a cohort of people who I thought shared my beliefs without a shadow of a doubt.

There have been countless articles, comments, tweets, and even Facebook profile picture frames responding to the Victoria Police comment, and I think it is excellent these issues are being brought to light and discussed.

However, it feels like we are putting so much effort into convincing people why we need change, that we’ve got no energy left for change at all.

When the shock of Eurydice Dixon’s murder fades away, will we go back to treating precautionary behaviour for women as normal?

Will we continue to be blind to the violence taking place behind closed doors towards wives, girlfriends and daughters?

Will we conveniently forget that women are being raped and murdered on a weekly basis, just because they aren’t being laid out in a public park where we are forced to acknowledge it?

It has taken hundreds, if not thousands of years to establish our current gender climate, and there is a mammoth amount that must be undone. Not just by women, not just by men, but by everyone – from our families and local communities, to our global society.

From celebrating the birth of a boy and praising the continuation of the family name.To telling girls to sit more lady-like.To saying boys will be boys but in the same breath demanding them to man up. From the nature of our  porn and sex industry, to our struggle to support mothers’ and their careers, to teaching our daughters to feel weak and our son’s that they must protect them.

I repeatedly explain to teachers, principals, students and colleagues that the fundamental societal change needed to bring about gender equality will take time.

But the task of creating change seems so monumentally big, that it feels impossible to even begin. Instead of being inspired to fight with energy and passion, I am overwhelmed with helplessness.

Every life lost is one too many.

How can we possibly turn around and say well, this will take time without losing faith?

Who are You & What do You Do NNY?

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members. Coretta Scott King

Who are you and what do you do?

One of the questions that I most often get asked at Not & Not Yet is:

“How do you actually help the community”  Or “How are the profits of the cafe used to help the community”

We are a registered charity with PBI status. We are a social justice enterprise.

What does that mean? We are here to serve the community of Warrandyte in whatever way that we can. Our purpose is to put the profits of the cafe back into the community.

What does this look like? We support asylum seekers with housing and employment. We support local families who are facing significant financial & emotional challenges by restocking their fridge, paying bills or supporting them with counselling & practical support. We support mental health by running a mind health support group fortnightly. We offer our venue free of charge for community group meetings like: Warrandyte Diary, Warrandyte Festival, Bendigo Bank , etc. And most importantly we make ourselves available to our community by being here 7 days a week.

To connect, to care and to do life together. We are much more than a retail space. 

“Our continued vision is to make a difference for good in the lives of the Warrandyte Community in whatever way we can”. 

It is very difficult to find language around how this happens as many of the people that we are helping are fragile and vulnerable and cannot have their stories told.  Some due to domestic violence and some due to privacy issues.

We help the community in a huge variety of ways.   Here are a couple of examples:

We fund the House of Hope which is on the property behind the cafe.  This is where we host asylum seekers and refugees by helping them find a place out of detention and into community.  We offer community, a place of belonging, opportunities for work and a rental history along with financial assistance with bills etc..

This is a picture of our dear dear friend Negethan who came through the House of Hope and our Asylum Seeker program.   Sitting with him is Flynn on of our volunteers who always supports the Asylum Seeker programme by volunteering for our Community Tamil Feasts.    You can read about Nigethans story here:  Click this Link

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There are many needs within the community of Warrandyte that we are told about or come into contact with in our daily job of serving coffee.  This could be helping move house, re-stocking a fridge and pantry if a family are struggling to put food on the table.  Paying a bill if someone is behind and about to have electricity cut off.  Finding out about a trauma or accident and popping in with soup and a meal to make sure they are doing okay?

If we are doing life with someone who has depression or who is suicidal, often isolation is a huge factor.  We will encourage them to come to the cafe for lunch of a coffee – just to get them out of the house.  We will of course pay their tab.

Tuesdays fortnightly we run a mind health group called Blur.  This is a peer led support group for people who are struggling with mind health issues or caring for someone with a mental health issues. Everyone is welcome.  It starts at 8pm.

As the Volunteer Coordinator at NNY I have the incredible job of looking after an amazing group of people.  Many are strong and fully functioning members of our community who have a desire to give back to the community by supporting our work by volunteering within the cafe and supporting our various events.

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Others are some of our communities most vulnerable.  Some of our volunteers are deaf, autistic, have Aspergers or downs syndrome.  Some are recovering from mental illness and abuse, some just find life very difficult to navigate.  We offer love, acceptance, equality and training.

We believe that everyone belongs and that everyone has a way to contribute.

I believe that some of our most valuable work is done by taking someones hand and walking with them through a difficult time in their life.  Offering them a place to feel safe and to contribute.  Giving them skills and confidence to navigate life.

In the volunteer programme I am partnering with incredible organisations like:

  • Epic Assist – who care for those with disabilities
  • Foundation House – which is a place that cares for the survivors of torture.
  • Interchange – a disability and support services group
  • And various VCAL educators who partner with us in helping educate and skill our youth.

Here are some testimonials from families we walk with: (names withheld in confidence)

“Blur is a gentle place of belonging.  A place to listen and to be heard”.

“She has made amazing progress, and we thank you for all the support you and your staff have given her to date. She is so very positive about her time at ‘Now and Not Yet’ and particularly enjoys being given the responsibility of helping with food preparation”.

“Her place at Not & Not Yet has given her a seat in the world and you wouldn’t need me to tell you how revolutionary it has been in her life”.

“Madeleine loves her work at the cafe – you can tell that by the smile on her face whilst she’s working as well as on her return home. It has definitely improved her quality of life as I feel it gives her not only great pleasure but a great sense of achievement and belonging.  That sense of Inclusion is golden and hard to come by.  She also loves the fact that she is working just like her sisters.  If Madeleine could talk, working at the cafe would be why Monday and Wednesday afternoons are highlights of her week”.    (Madelines family have given permission to use this.  M has acute autism and volunteers twice a week in the afternoon).

This is from Lisa who started off as a volunteer but who is now working for us as our apprentice chef:

“It was a steep learning curve for me and for all the staff in the cafe but they were wonderful and made me feel very welcome.  Everyone was so caring and helpful. At times some communication was difficult but everyone tried so hard to make me feel at ease and now it feels like home.  When I first started, Jack the chef took photos of the menu items and laminated them and posted them around the kitchen so that I could easily see what was needed.

This has been the most wonderful experience for me and I highly recommend the volunteer programme to others. I was never made to feel different or inadequate and have been supported and encouraged every step of the way”.

I hope that this has given you a broader understanding of what we do.  These are just few examples.

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own. Cesar Chavez

Lisa Hunt-Wotton

The Way

A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no Traveller , not even fools, shall go astray. 
Isaiah 35:8.

The Christian movement was referred to as ‘The Way‘.  Ancient Christians were known as followers of ‘The Way’.  They did not follow a Church or a denomination.  They followed the teachings of Jesus.

This is a description written  to describe these new followers of Christ from The Epistle to Diognetes, c. AD 130..

They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring.

They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and restored to life.

They are poor yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things and yet abound in all; they are dishonored and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of and yet are justified; they are reviled and bless; they are insulted and repay the insult with honor; they do good yet are punished as evildoers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum it all up in one word — what the soul is to the body, that are Christians in the world.

This post was written by Ray Simpson for Way Marks Of Life.

Traveller  1    How can I follow this way when I’ve had two still births, my one baby that survived has a chronic condition, and I feel drained day and night?

Guide             This way has lodging places that exactly meet the needs of each person. Jesus said ‘In my Father’s House are many lodging places (John 14:2). The Greek word suggests that Jesus had in mind the lodging houses that were familiar to people who walked along the trade routes.  By being fully present to your child just where you are, you show you are in fact on the right way. Your baby is also on a journey. Take each day at a time. Each day take a step of love.

Traveller  4    I am a mother of five children.  My life is taken up with household duties. I love my family and Jesus, and I welcome my neighbours to drop in, but everything revolves around relationships and the changing needs of people. I could not keep to a regular rule or routine. Surely that’s for people with a high level of energy and organising ability?

Guide             God has designed his Way for people of all types and circumstances. In today’s Scripture Isaiah points out that everyone can travel it, even fools; only the unclean will be unable to make it. Everyone who has begun to love their children and their neighbour has begun to walk this way. However, Jesus said ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). In order to love yourself and others you need to renew the springs of care. Otherwise you burn out and cease to be a life-giving parent and neighbour. If you refuse to rest and to snatch moments for prayer and reflection you are disobeying Jesus who said ‘If you love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). If you disregard the way your body is made you are disregarding Jesus. If you disregard the way the days and weeks are made you are disregarding Jesus. Jesus has built rhythm into the fabric of your being and of the earth.  So being mindful of the sun rising and setting, being aware of how the food on the plates came to get there, is not an impossible extra burden, it is intrinsic to you being a good human being, a good mother and a good neighbour.

It is true that you will not travel this Way in the same manner that a commando officer or an elite athlete would, but God does not want everyone to be like that. So relax. Breathe in God, take a step, and share the journey with a soul friend.

Traveller  5    Isaiah says the unclean can’t walk this way. I have unclean thoughts, my room is in a mess, I’ve broken up with my partner and I’ve got into debt, so even though I believe in God, I can’t walk this way until I’ve sorted everything out, can I?

Guide             Jesus enlisted a prostitute (John 8:11), he knew that everyone has unclean thoughts (Matthew 5:18), and he explained what people with messed up relationships and debt could do about these (Matthew 5:23, 24; 18:23-35).  The first New Testament followers of the Way did not include many big wigs and egg heads, for God chose people who looked foolish in their eyes to be followers of the Way (1 Corinthians 1:27).

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Into reflection

Jesus, you are ahead of me, I come to you just as I am.

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