Saturday, March 24, 2012

Still thankful! Community, art supplies and babies

I have been so busy lately, it didn't even register I haven't been posting my Thankful post! Whoops! Note to self - too busy to remember to be thankful is probably too busy.

Today I am thankful -
- for community, as always - lately it seems that simple trips to shops and other errands mean enjoyable moments bumping into people I know, quickly passing the time of day or just exchanging smiles. There are rumours that communities don't exist in our modern world or that social media like facebook have a negative impact on face to face interaction. Rubbish!

- for art supplies. Now the family birthday season has eased (my husband, first and last children all have theirs in the space between Christmas and mid-March, which is very poor planning from a financial perspective!) I have been able to to stock up on much-wanted art supplies. Mostly buying online, which is actually supporting small business, both here in Australia and the US, there is the added bonus of the excitement a package brings
- sadly this is usually watered-down by the displeasure of a card in the mail box saying you missed it and need to go to the post office to collect :( . I hear that online shopping is resurrecting a postal service at risk from a decrease in letters due to online communication: the internet taketh with one hand but giveth with the other!

- for babies! We are in the thick of the annual March baby-boom and have had lots of small visitors to the Breastfeeding Centre whose lives are still counted in weeks. No matter how bad the world can sometimes seem on the evening news, there is still magic in the eyes of a newborn baby. It is such a blessing to work with these little people and their bleary-eyed parents ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On the resurrection of magazines

Once I was a magazine Queen. As a compulsive reader, when I put down a book, I picked up a magazine.

From pop music classics Spunky and Tiger Beat and the quintessential Dolly as a teenage girl, to a brief flirtation with Cleo as a young woman before plunging into a mixture of women's and parenting journals as a mother and non-housewife, only the most dire shortage of cash would stop me popping them into my shopping trolley. Later, as even the classic Women's Weekly began to pale, Notebook and myriad scrap booking magazines would take its place. Home decor, gardening - you could track my current interests by the titles in my bulging magazine files.

Until, one day - only a few years back - I decided to stop buying them. For both financial and environmental reasons, I turned away from the news agency and towards the library instead. When they didn't carry a subscription to a publication, I used my ability as a member to request they do so. This satisfied my need to browse and I could wile away spare moments in the library and borrow back issues to bring home.

Yet, there was a threat close by. My Google Reader began to give me my very own magazine, tailored exactly to my interests, giving me editorial and inspirational articles at the click of my mouse. The writing was on the wall, as the print publishing world began to reel from the impact of digital books and I thought I would see the demise of magazines in the not-to-distant future.

But at the eleventh hour, a saviour appeared. At first it was elitist, limited and barely made a blip on my radar. Then I got my own tablet just a few weeks ago. And discovered a new hope for magazines, growing at an amazing speed - digital magazines! OMG! International borders evaporating before my eyes, simple apps on tablet. PC and even smartphone suddenly offered the same convenience of ebooks, only for emags!! Ooh!

My tastes are for more specialist titles these days, with zero interest in the celebrity "shock" mags of the supermarket checkout, but craft, health and other lifestyle journals are very much of interest. Heaps cheaper than print versions. Subscriptions delivered automatically! Without the overwhelming piles and stacks and need to cull. A whole collection at my fingertips. No need to settle for the exhausted  titles in waiting rooms. Clickable web links in articles and advertisements!

And I thought they were at death's door!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Questions I am asked ...

Sometimes I notice I get asked the same questions by multiple friends and contacts and giving pretty much the same answers, so in case you were also wondering ...

Why are you so passionate about breastfeeding?
I joined a breastfeeding support organisation 28 years ago, after the birth of my first child. I started training as a volunteer breastfeeding counsellor when my second child was a toddler and qualified when my youngest was one. My passion has been part of my whole adult life, having started motherhood when I was twenty and now approaching 50! I believe that many of the problems facing women as they learn to breastfeed are because of the society they live in, not due to personal failure or physical barriers. My life goal is to improve support and information available so all mothers make an informed choice about infant feeding and have access to the very best help. I continue to be a volunteer breastfeeding counsellor and reach my 20 year milestone in May and I work in a Breastfeeding Centre three days each week in a paid capacity, helping mums.

How do you keep in touch with all the breastfeeding news on the internet? You are always sharing stuff!
My secret is Google Reader - it does the searching for me! It feeds blog posts and news articles containing relevant words like "breastfeeding" right to me! I share many on my Facebook Wall, primarily as a form of bookmarking but also because I have many friends who also advocate for breastfeeding women arund the world.

You have multiple sclerosis, but you don't look sick! How can you do so much?
I began having symptoms of MS in 1995 and was formally diagnosed in 2000. I have a mild form of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (at this time - we have no crystal ball) and my main symptoms are invisible - fatigue, sensory disruptions, balance, pain, memory - and apparently cover them well! I manage my well-being by only working part-time, paying for a cleaner two days a week, spending 12 hours in bed each day between 8.30pm and 8.30am, and using my non-work weekdays for health management activities. I also have fibromyalgia and chronic back issues. I can pace myself in the workplace so not to overload myself and only work three 6-hour days. Most of my volunteer work can be done by phone or email and I spend a lot of the weekend resting.

What is art journalling and why are you doing it?
Art journalling is a form of mixed-media art which has interested me for a couple of years and 2012 seemed a good time to get into it. As a scrapbooker since the 90s, I was looking for new challenges in memory keeping and creating. I also find it healing, as depression is part of my MS and Fibro symptoms, so it helps me work through stuff rather than fret over it.

You have over 1200 Facebook Friends! How on Earth do you know so many people
LOL - I ask myself the same thing! Have you ever heard of Dunbar's Number? I seem to be an exception which proves the rule. I like to connect with people and Facebook is the ideal medium for me. I have actively searched out people who I have had good friendships with in the past but become disconnected from due to life changes - people I knew when our children were at school together; people I knew through NMAA/ABA who moved on as their children grew beyond babyhood; people I have worked with or went to school with myself: but I also take the opportunity to connect with new friends and these days, many of those are cyber-friendships only, because we live in a global community. So I have online friends with shared interests in breastfeeding,  scrapbooking, photography, reading, family history, art ... and everything else I list as "interests". I am not afraid to say "Hello, Would you like to be my friend?" even though in my early years I would have cringed at the thought of rejection. Funny how good maturity can be! These days, some of my closest friends are people I interact with daily but will (probably) never see in real life. Like Catherine "my old Nursing Mother's friend's cousin in Canada"! Or a women's fiction author whose work I admired long before we connected (actually, I have met her in person once - we met for coffee and to exchange books for a cause I have forgotten!). I am cross-generational - friends with my kids' friends, my friends' kids ... my youngest friends are barely old enough to be on Facebook, my eldest shouldn't even know how to be on Facebook (according to some!), yet we all find something to chat about each day. Its my village fountain.

So - any further questions?????

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dickens Women

I had the most wonderful treat this week  - world-class theatre in my own suburb!

I have lost count of the shows and concerts I haven't seen over the years, due to there never being the money for such luxuries when we were raising children and, in more recent years, the tyranny of tiredness that comes from travelling home after a night in the city an hour's drive away. So when this opportunity appeared locally, I snapped it up.

As a fan of Charles Dickens and in the midst of a personal challenge to get through as many of his books as I can in this, his 200th anniversary year, the appeal of a performance by one of Britain's premier actresses bringing to life the female characters from many of his stories is obvious!

Miriam Margoyles has that rare ability to transform herself, without props or costume, into the persona of another. It is almost startling when she "returns" to her true self, so convincing is the transformation.

This tiny women (she must be a good head shorter than I, and I am only 5' 4"!), whom I have loved in both Blackadder and Harry Potter, has recently appeared in the wonderful ABC series featuring Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher and I must admit being hesitant about her character, who does not appear in the books. But she is so wonderful, I think Kerry should add her!

This was not a show idealising Charles Dickens, indeed he lessened a little in my eyes as a man, given some of the background Miriam shares about his treatment of his poor wife. But he was a man of his times and perhaps he knew no better.

I purchased a copy of the book featuring the script and excepts from Dicken's works, as featured in the performance and the seller mentioned Miriam would be signing after the show. So rather than linger, I left the theatre quick smart and found myself second in the queue. Within moments, a voice said "here she is now!" and the diminutive Miriam appeared in the crowd, to their startled delight! She sat herself at the table and then - amazingly - her voice bellowed across the foyer (and possibly the suburb!) "COME AND BUY MY BOOK!". The place filled with laughter and as the first person moved away with his signed book, I stooped down to look her in the eye and tell her how much I enjoyed the show. She smiled as she continued signing but her face crinkled with joy when I said "and I LOVED you in Phryne Fisher!" She looked at me and said "Isn't it WONDERFUL!" and I agreed it is and she said she hopes they make more. It was so lovely to have that moment and I drifted happily to the lift with my signed book in hand.

I then drove home to the ongoing soundtrack of A Tale of Two Cities!

If you can see the show, do go.  But if you can't, treat yourself to the book.

A proposal is at hand
My favourite scene must be that from Oliver Twist, where The Beedle, Mr Bumble, is courting Mrs Corney. Miriam portrays both characters and had the theatre in hysterics with the faces she pulled. But the tragic miss Flight, from Bleak House, stole the end of the show, tallying the names of the birds she kept until she received a judgment in Chancery.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shoddy "journalism" - breastfeeding on Ten Breakfast Show

It is the time of TV I avoid because it does my head in, but I wanted to see the interview with Dr Jack Newman, so I tuned in online to watch it. Having the pleasure of dinner with Jack on Sunday night and spending the day with him as one of the speakers out the ABA Breastfeeding: working it out seminar we ran on Monday, I found him to be intelligent, understanding worthy of the label of world-renowned expert on breastfeeding, whose help is sort not only by mothers in person but also in their thousands online. After 20 + years of media watching, I expected the usual debate that the media considers anything related to breastfeeding is up for, but even I didn't expect this:  Ten Breakfast March 7th 2012

The "interview" was conducted by an emotional presenter whose unresolved issues related to her own unsuccessful breastfeeding experience were allowed free-reign by the producers and instead of intelligent conversation, Jack found himself struggling to get a word in whilst she struggled to hold back tears. Her two male co-hosts - one a doctor - seemed uncomfortable.  This came across as the most unprofessional example of "journalism" I have seen in a while and contained gems such as Jack not being an expert in breastfeeding, as he is male! She boasted of the very best in private hospital, lactation consultants and doctors in her quest to breastfeed twins which went on for 7.5 weeks but brushed off the point Jack tried to make about access to the RIGHT help and how women do not fail to breastfeed but society fails to help them EFFECTIVELY to do so. The whole purpose was not an attack on women who bottle feed after insurmountable problems - in fact, they are the very women he was there to say deserved more form the health system. Once again, a media outlet sought to inflame anger and pit mother against mother, with the label "Bottle or Breast" attached to the interview and used to prompt discussion on their Facebook Wall.

All this only a week after a misinformed blog post by Mia Freedman, which began well but descended to the old "mothers bullied to breastfeed" scenario. Freedman incorrectly reported on the organisation behind the Baby-Friendly Health Initiative , declaring it to be part of the Australian Breastfeeding Association Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace program and therefore, assigning "blame" for mothers limited access to formula in hospital to ABA, sparking attacks on ABA and its volunteer Breastfeeding Counsellors (like myself) that left many of my friends and colleagues shocked and disturbed. The flaming on Facebook, Mia's blog and later - after stepping in as Patron of BFHI - that of Tara Moss, was so nasty that I and others found it hard to sleep after reading them.

I want the media to STOP pitting mother against mother and START using their power to DEMAND support for mothers to do what they intended - breastfeed their babies. No debate. No guilt.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I won :-)

If you read my post a few days ago, about the Letter Love cours i am doing and the competition I had enteed to win a Pilot Parralel Pen from one of the other class participants on her blog, then you will understandmy excitement that I have won the giveaway!

I am mobile rigt now and cant easily post the link here, so scroll down to my previous post and check out Pippa's blog!