Friday, 30 January 2015

I love coming back to work!

During the last week of my holiday I was regularly asked when I was returning to work. I have a very full dance card for the next few weeks and would respond that I was going straight back into work.

The usual response was along the lines of "oh you poor thing" or "oh that will be hard" or "oh well" and accompanied by copious eye rolls. I also noticed my social media feed was filled with articles about how to beat the return to work blues.

When I'd let the person know that I was actually quite happy to get back into work they would look at me like I was crazy and then ask me what it is that I do.

Rather than respond with details of the tasks, I would talk about the how I feel about my work. My work is interesting, stimulating, juicy, important, challenging, good, fulfilling, creative, diverse and the people with whom I do it are wonderful. They're smart, committed, inspiring and good fun to be with. Why would I be sad to return to that?

The inevitable next question was about how do you get to do THAT?

Well, I made it myself. I'm so thrilled that now I'm in a position to largely choose the people around me and how I spend my time. If I take something on and it doesn't feel happy then I either work to change it or walk away.

I'm noticing that as my business approaches its fifth birthday I have some solid collaborations which are good for me and attractive to people who want to engage us. Even in the most serious environment, laughter and fun is appealing and people generally want to be around it.

Not everyone is in a position to start their own business, but everyone is able to choose their attitude and how they engage with the people around them. Let's face it, people who are pleasant to be around are attractive and spread goodwill.

Are you fun to be around? What's your attitude? 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Moral guardian riding the rails in Melbourne

After a month of holidays spent playing music, reading, knitting, playing Scrabble, playing with the dog and hanging out with family in the country, the return to city life yesterday was interesting.

My first stop was the hairdresser. This was well-planned after swimming and sunshine; I needed to get my city hair back!

The first challenge of the day was unexpected - I had to put on proper shoes! I have essentially been barefoot for a month. I took off the first pair I chose because they felt too restrictive and settled for a more worn pair. I hope I get back into the swing of things soon because I have a large selection of shoes.

I was relieved to discover I still had money on my myki and was able to catch a train without dealing with the machine. When I spent a weekend in Sydney during my break I noticed how clean their trains are compared to ours in Melbourne. I don't understand why our trains are so filthy. Most seats look like someone had a terrible accident and the floors are sticky. I wonder how Sydney keeps their trains so clean?

Travelling home in the afternoon was interesting. I'd had coffee with a friend and travelled just before the peak at about 3:45pm. There were plenty of seats and people were spread out. A few people were standing, absorbed in their phones and the carriage was pretty quiet. I was sitting in a single seat reserved for people with special needs. I was carrying a lot of bags after collecting all my mail which had been on hold for a month and I had space to put them without taking up another seat. I was ready to move if someone needed the seat. 

As we approached Yarraville station, a thin woman with a face permanently set to cranky disappointment stood up and hissed at a woman sitting nearby in the middle of three seats: "You didn't pay for three seats you know!" Her eyes were seething with anger and she had the self-satisfied look of a Guardian of Modern Morality.

I spontaneously guffawed. It just came out of me. I was gobsmacked at her exercise of perceived power. 

She turned on me.

"And you're not disabled are you?" she snapped, referring to my choice of seat. 

She stood near the door waiting for the train to stop. The woman who hadn't paid for enough seats and was quietly playing with her phone was looking bewildered. I laughed and shrugged. The Guardian didn't turn around as I called to her to make sure she touched off and paid for her trip.

Her face was well set, cranky disappointment was not new for her. How sad for her.

There is something to be said for "live and let live".

How would you respond?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Afternoon chats with my niece

I took a very important phone call today. It was my four year old niece calling. She needed to fill me in on her day. She was watching her older brother (aged 6) paint a pirate ship. Clearly, there was a limit to her powers of concentration and she decided to call her Aunty instead.

The last time we spoke on the phone, I noticed that my facilitator's habit of asking good open questions led nowhere when it came to engaging in conversation with a four year old. My engaging, excellent questions were met with discombobulated silence. In a few short weeks, I can hear how her language skills and comprehension have advanced. Or maybe she was just in a chatty mood.

"Did you have a nice Christmas?"she asked me and followed up with an open question for me: "What did you get for Christmas?" I told her about a few things and she latched onto the perfume set which had come from her whole family. 

"I got some perfume too!" she exclaimed.

"Wow! That's great. You must smell very nice. What sort of perfume did you get?" I enquired.

"It's special kids' perfume. It's stuff I can put on myself!" 

I was struggling to imagine what this might be and saw fleeting iamges of her dousing herself and the house with some sickening aroma.

"What does it smell like?" I asked?

"It smells like mashed potato and carrots! It's lovely!"

I held my laughter wondering what this perfume could possibly be. Then I pictured the advertising campaign. There'd be a handsome man, sniffing the ear of a woman. He'd be in raptures as he inhaled the smells of mashed vegetables. The woman would morph into his mother...It was time to change the subject, but she beat me to it by telling me that she and her brother had collected all the cards they needed to complete a special book of animals and now they could hear all the sounds the animals make. The cards that Grandma had sent had helped them complete their collection. It was a significant achievement.

"Do you know what I saw in the garden today?" I asked.

"No." That's where a closed question will get you.

"It was a hare."


"Do you know what a hare is?"

"A kind of a rabbit?"

"Yes. Sort of. It's a big rabbit and its ears stand straight up."

"What was he doing?"

"Just sitting in the garden eating some grass and looking at me."

"Did you pick him up?"

"No! He was too big. I thought he was a small wallaby when I first saw him."

"Was he a wallaby-rabbit?"

"No! He was a hare, but he looked like a wallaby - that's how big he was."

"How big?"

"As big as a small wallaby."


Then came this gorgeous question: "Was he bigger than something small?"

I thought about the answer for a while.

"Yes. He was bigger than something small."
"Okay. Bye!"

She's off to find out what sound a hare makes. I'll look forward to our next conversation.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The meaning of a four letter word

The conversations out here start differently. Variations on "Ja-ged-any-rain"?"and "How-much-ranger-get?" take the place of the pedestrian, "how ya going?" or for a new acquaintance, "what do you do?"

When I answer the phone in my parents home, I am obliged first to answer these questions before any further business can be transacted. I don't always know the significance of the numbers, but I can look out the window and see the green carpet.

I noticed in town, the amount of rainfall is the single topic discussed. Jungian collective consciousness puts a spring in the step of those lucky to be the recipients of rain, while others' shoulders droop, betraying the fact that they are still waiting.

The air outside is steamy and the plains are hazy, heavy with moisture. The luxury can not be described. I walk out in the garden, working hard to make my way across the verdant lawn, watching for snakes - it's only a couple of days since one met Dad on the lawnmower. Roses show off in various garden beds and the crickets and frogs sing their noisy, cheerful chorus at any time of day. I look up at the trees where the koalas usually live, but none are about. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a brown creature with tall ears sitting very still. First I think it's a hare, but then it seems too big and I think it could be a small brown wallaby. I look again and realise it's a hare, gorging on the heavenly green. Its only moving parts are the jaws. It looks at me. I stay still and it continues the feast. Alfie, the Jack Russell, shows his age by showing no interest in a chase. Around another corner, brilliant red, green and blue parrots take flight as Alfie approaches.

A magpie gargles, singing the song that I love. It's the sound of morning in the Australian bush.

Mr Lincoln roses from the garden, fresh today.
© 2015 divacultura

Manchurian Pears
© 2015 divacultura

Beyond the fence post
© 2015 divacultura

Study in contrasts. I never tire of this majestic tree.
© 2015 divacultura

My favourite dead tree finally keeled over. I will miss it's Tim Burtonesque addition
to the landscape. It still makes an interesting study.
© 2015 divacultura

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

In and out - navigating the public loo

Whoever designs public toilets needs to rethink the whole thing. Since the advent of the enormous toilet paper dispensers which hold enough paper to last into the forseeable future, there is no room to enter or exit the cubicle. The square meterage of cubicles has also shrunk, both lengthwise and widthwise. Add a container for the disposal of, ahem, ladies' sanitary items, a handbag and your Christmas shopping, there's barely room for a person. This is further compounded by a lack of hooks for hanging one's luggage. At Flinders Street station, this is a diabolical problem, as the floors are unclean and often wet - I hate to think with what. Once the door swings open, there's barely 2 cm between the edge of the door and the the lip of the loo. The space to stand so the swinging door doesn't knock you into the actual toilet, is taken up with the toilet paper dispenser. Getting in, it's a matter of slinging the bags over the shoulder and performing a physical origami act that would make a circus contortionist rethink their vocation. This results in being wedged between the toilet pedestal, the back wall and the lifetime supply of toilet paper. The door can then be flung towards the locking position, but arms are never long enough to reach the lock from there, so the bags are thrown, quoit-like, at the door in the hope that there is a) a hook on the door,  b) that the target will be hit and c)  that said hook will hold. The momentum keeps the door travelling the right direction, giving sufficient time to step over the bowl to the other side of the cubicle so the door can be locked.

Having undertaken the relaxing business of answering nature's call, the logistical challenge of ejecting oneself from this cell of complexity looms. The challenge is all about order. Standing up results in injuries to the face as the bags hanging on the back of the door make contact. Leaning up to try to dislodge the bags before fully standing results in considerable pain from the dislocated shoulder which follows. There's also the risk that the windmill action required could result in the bags flying over one's head and plunging to their watery death. Once that bit is worked out, the entry process is engineered in reverse: wedging in behind the toilet and the dispenser while trying to reach the lock on the door. If one can manage to open the door from this angle, then the ridiculousness of the situation is on display for all to see. And there will be plenty to see it because no matter where or when, there is ALWAYS a queue in the women's  toilets. Everyone pretends not to notice, but really they're dreading the feat that awaits them. Not only does all of the above have to be accomplished, it must be done under pressure of time - there are ladies queuing - but it must be achieved with a full bladder!

Who the hell designed these?

Open the doors outwards!