Happy International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. I was lucky enough to attend a breakfast hosted by UN Women and hear some fantastic speeches. One particular standout was that of Nasima Rahmani, an Afghani lawyer who currently works as the manager of the Women’s Rights program with ActionAid Afghanistan. She described the plight of women in her home country, women who have been raped and then cast out of their families as a result of this. Rather than recount her whole story, I would encourage you to read or listen to her interview with Damien Carrick on the Law Report where she repeats much of the same story. It made me realise once again how lucky we are to be living in a country where women do have the right to claim control over their own bodies, and they do have the right to seek justice when those basic rights are violated.

Happy International Women’s Day.

P.S. – If you are inspired to become involved in any social justice work in the area of women’s rights, UN Women is a good place to start.


Cyclone Yasi

Amazing satellite image of Cyclone Yasi, which is currently destroying Northern QLD.

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology


On minimalism and simplification

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” – Socrates

Recently I’ve become enamored with the idea of simplifying my life and the concept of minimalism. Whilst I’m not about to turf all of my belongings and live off six items of clothing and a toothbrush, there are definite changes I have been striving to make.

Clutter – I’m currently de-cluttering the apartment and striving to keep it as clutter-free as possible. Clutter is stressful and I want my home to be serene, inviting and peaceful. It’s my refuge from the crazy world of teaching and I need to feel calm and relaxed when I’m home.

Clothing – I don’t own a heap of clothing but I own enough, and I’m endeavouring to ensure that I have enough to meet my needs, and that everything I buy suits my style and purpose and works with other items in my wardrobe. It’s also much easier to dress when there is less choice.

Cleaning – I’m in the process of minimising my cleaning products to a couple of choice ingredients (namely vinegar and bicarb) and ensuring that I stay on top of it by doing small amounts each day as part of my routine.

Cooking – A recent vegetarian-turned-conscientious-omnivore, I tend to stick to whole ingredients anyway. I get a fruit and veg box delivered and any extras I need are obtained from local farms, I buy pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, chickpeas, lentils, cannellini beans etc, meat is ordered through ethical farms and picked up at the farmers’ markets and eggs are from a local lady who keeps chickens running around her backyard. I also buy good quality local cheeses from the deli and bread is artisanal sourdough also from the markets. I tend to cook reasonably simple dishes that allow the flavour of the fresh produce to shine through. Tomatoes are in season? A simple pasta tossed with tomatoes that have been simmering on the stove with olive oil, garlic, onion and a dash of white wine, topped with shaved parmesan and a side of rocket dressed in olive oil and lemon juice – it doesn’t get much better than that!

Resources for work – I’m a humanities teacher. We hoard resources “just in case we can use them in the classroom someday”. Every newspaper article, advertisement, Sunday paper liftout is a potential lesson. I’m chucking almost everything, digitising important resources and going as paperless as possible.

Books – I’m a humanities teacher. We love books. I love books. But I also have access to several great libraries and also read a lot of classics on my iPhone anyway. So. I’m keeping important ones (beautiful hardcovers, favourites that I keep going back to to read over and over, my ancient history resources and books that I continually teach to my English classes) and I’m thinking about getting a Kindle later this year so that any future books I get will digital.

Fitness – I run. It doesn’t get much more minimal than that. I just need my runners and my phone (for safety reasons) and I’m off. I don’t listen to music, I like letting my mind wander and clear itself. I also like to be aware of my surroundings. I like the wake up calls of the birds, the scuttling of the blue tongue lizards into the bush and the rustle of the gum trees. I also try to make sure I do core strength work regularly after doing two terms of Pilates last year. I have a swiss ball for this purpose and that’s all. I also have boxing gloves because I box with my brother once a week. This is not very minimalist, but I cherish the time with my brother and so they suit my lifestyle.

Enjoying moments not stuff – I turn 30 this year. So does my husband. Instead of gifts we are going on a hiking holiday. It will be adventurous and fun and we will remember it forever. I can’t wait.

For more minimalism and simplification inspiration, see these blogs:

http://mnmlist.com/

http://www.missminimalist.com/

http://simplicitybysunny.wordpress.com/


Jay-Z

I love that Jay-Z went to Canterbury Boys High. His visit tells these boys that they are important and worth the attention of someone whom they idolise, and the impact of this will be immense.


Stuff I’m loving at the moment

Local strawberries are in season:

Pretty and colourful summery dresses:

Tiki House Dress

Messenger bags:
Fresh spring flowers:
Fresh spring flowers
Re-reading old favourite stories:

ANZAC Day

I don’t think that shops should be open on ANZAC day. It’s a day of memorial for those people who gave up their lives for their country. And I’m not just talking about those who died in the war, but those who survived and came home with physical and psychological injuries, and have had to live with that for the rest of their lives. Many of these soldiers are still alive. I can’t think of anything more disrespectful than retailers wanting to make money on this day.

The Last Post. Lest we forget.


Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

tim-burton-alice-and-wonderland-johnny-deep-mad-hatter-queen-hearts-01

I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to write about Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, since I saw it several weeks ago. For all my good intentions of making the viewing of this movie a special night out, I ended up seeing it with 150 Year 9 students on an excursion the day after coming back from a three day school camp – not exactly conducive to being able to enjoy it as much as I had wanted to. However, I did watch closely and try to get into the Tim Burton spirit of things as much as I could, and here’s my verdict:

The Good:

1. Visually beautiful. As can be expected from Burton, slightly dark overtones with splashes of vivid colour and amazing detail. I would never bother seeing this in 3D – it’s too stunning in the original format and messing around with the dimensions would take away from Burton’s wonderful landscapes.

2. The cast. Johnny Depp was deliciously zany, Helena Bonham Carter made the Red Queen come alive and really, is there anyone else who can do “dryness” as well as Alan Rickman? They were all brilliant.

3. The costumes. I suppose this should go along with “visually beautiful” but really, the costumes were magnificent in their own right.

The “not bad but not necessarily good”:

1. The storyline. It followed the typical Hero’s Journey to a tee, but because of that, it was a bit boring and predictable. Even my Year 9 students told me that they found the storyline boring since they could tell what was going to happen. I was actually glad that they did – it means that they are dissatisfied with archetypes and willing to question what is presented to them. I told them that this was because last year we studied novels and films that challenged the archetypal Hero’s Quest (Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve and Howl’s Moving Castle by Miyazaki). When studying these texts, we pulled apart the expectations of the typical quest story and found that texts that challenged the archetypes were much more powerful. I was proud of my Year 9s for being dissatisfied with the “Alice” story!!

The Ugly:

1. The characters were fantastically ugly! I remember hearing about an interview with Helena Bonham Carter who was complaining that in Burton’s films, he always makes her look completely ugly – and it’s true! But she plays ugly well.

Overall:

Worth seeing at the cinema to appreciate the beautiful cinematography. Worth seeing in general if you are either an Alice in Wonderland fan or a Tim Burton fan (I am both). Go and see it with the expectation to be visually wowed, but don’t expect the storyline to blow your mind.