I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!
Australia: the land of kangaroos, koalas and deadly spiders. Back in 1904, just three years after the federation of Australia, poet Dorothea Mackellar wrote what became an iconic poem entitled “My Country” to describe her love for her home. I’m a far cry from being a poet and am definitely not qualified to criticise such a legend, but I think there’s a little something missing from Mackellar’s tribute: Aussie Rules and Aussie meat pies.
OK, we can forgive her for not mentioning the pies…according to Wikipedia (don’t we all get our facts from there?) the Aussie meat pie originated in the early 1900s, so maybe Mackellar had not had the privilege of trying one when she wrote her poem. But Aussie Rules football has been around since the 1840s!
In four weeks’ time, I will be celebrating my birthday, and there’s nothing like being reminded that you’re another year older to make you reflect on the little things in life.
Since I am not one to be backwards in coming forwards, so to speak, I thought I’d share with you some of my little “pearls of wisdom”, if you will. You may not agree with them but that’s OK. I’ve learnt to accept that I can never please everyone 🙂
These are a mish-mash of things that came to mind but are in no particular order, and by no means an exhaustive list. However, you can probably guess why I have chosen to list forty 🙂
So here goes nothing!
- My mother may not always be right, but she always has my interest at heart.
- Family always comes first and will always be.
- You can choose your friends but not your family, so it’s best to accept them as they are.
- Words are mightier than the sword, so choose yours wisely. The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is rubbish.
- There will always be idiots doing and saying idiotic things. It’s better to ignore them and walk away. Don’t let them ruin your day.
- Choose your battles carefully. Some are just not worth the effort.
- Look at the big picture but don’t ignore the details
- Common sense is not common, otherwise there would be no such thing as planking or the Darwin Awards
- It’s not nice to call someone stupid, no matter how much you want to. People do stupid things. There’s a difference.
- I believe in God. Having Faith helps get me through the days – good and bad. Continue reading
A few weeks ago I went for a job interview that was one of the strangest ones I had ever experienced. As a contractor and consultant, I am used to going on job interviews all the time so I thought I was prepared for just about anything people could throw at me. As I am always going for short-term contracts, interview questions are generally along the lines of “give me an example of where you have done such-and-such” – they don’t really care about your long-term career goals if their intention is for you to complete your project within the term of the contract (typically 6-12 months) then leave, so I never get the “where do you see yourself in five years” type questions.
So what made this particular interview rather unusual was a comment the interviewer made toward the end of our hour-long conversation: “You look too relaxed. I’m not sure you can handle the hot-headed execs who have their jobs on the line if this project does not meet its deadlines!” Wow! If I had known that appearing relaxed was going to disqualify me for a job I would have called the Qantas reservations line prior to the interview so that I could be put on hold for an hour listening to their rendition of “I Still Call Australia Home” on repeat!
It is often said that there are two types of people in this world when it comes to how they perceive life: those who look at it as the “glass half full” or the “glass half empty”. Before you run away screaming “Oh my God, Valerie is killing us with clichés!” and stop reading, I want to assure you, in the best Stephen Fry voice I can out on, that I will try my level best not to kill you with clichés (can’t promise anything on puns, innuendos or just pure boredom though! :D).
As many of you who are regular readers of my blog will know, the past few days have been a very emotional time for me with the loss of a school friend, Mary, who I had only recently reconnected with. The news hit me hard, much harder than I ever expected, and I was surprised by it. A few moments ago, I got a text message from my Mum telling me my Dad picked up his new hearing aid, much more high-tech than the very basic government-subsidised model he had been wearing for the past few years. Dad was overwhelmed with emotion by this new device which is allowing him to hear music again. My Dad is a natural musician – with no formal training, he could pick up any instrument and start playing tunes. With the hearing loss, his quality of life deteriorated and caused a lot of angst and frustration amongst the whole family. So with this latest news, I was once again brought to tears, this time from joy.
My regular readers and Twitter followers know that sometimes when I get obsessed with something, I can get too carried away, regardless of what that something might be. There is no denying that my obsession for the last 12 months has been a TV show called White Collar, its stars and writers. I tweet about them, blog about them, and of course, talk about them. Incessantly. My opinions on all things WC-related are often so strong that when someone says something negative about them, I feel the need to publicly defend them. At the same time, if there was something I did not like, such as one of the episodes that aired a couple of weeks ago, I did not shy away from going into lengthy discussions with my fellow Collars, detailing every plot hole we could identify (quite frankly, because we know the show so well that we were able to spot the plot holes from a mile away) and offering possible explanations for what went wrong.
So, this particular obsessive (and possibly very shallow) behaviour aside, it brought to mind the question of why we care so much about some things and so little about others? As I write, the major news items around the world involve the Christchurch earthquake (as discussed in my blog “When Tragedy Strikes We Pull Together“) and the continuing turmoil in Libya.
For most of the past 18 Christmases, the special day was celebrated at my sister’s house. Although not so much the biggest fans of dinner parties, my sister and brother-in-law would host the Christmas Day lunch as they had the biggest house to accommodate both sides of the family. Lunch was traditionally the good ole Aussie BBQ with a touch of side salads and variety of cold meats and the like – the usual fare that would leave you thankful for wearing pants or skirts with elastic waistbands. Cleaning up was always the “fun” part and that was another good reason to have the luncheon at my sister’s since they have a dishwasher (I, on the other hand, AM the dishwasher). My sister has two pieces of household machinery that she swears she cannot live without: the washing machine and the dishwasher (I suppose you could say the refrigerator is pretty important too but if the fridge dies you could just eat out). So it came as no surprise that she went into hyper-crazed mode when her dishwasher died just before Christmas a few years ago.
That year, I spent Christmas Eve at my sister’s and she suddenly proclaimed: “My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me?” Now, I have to point out that I am from a pretty spiritual and religious family, so for her to say that was pretty serious (for the non-Christians who may not be familiar with this phrase, these were the words uttered by Jesus Christ at his Crucifixion)! So I stopped and reminded her that there were people in the world who were homeless or had no family to celebrate Christmas with and that a broken-down dishwasher would be the least of their worries!
Do you remember the last time you were disappointed by something or someone? Do you remember who/what it was and why? Well, I can remember it as if it happened yesterday…wait…it was yesterday!
After nearly 2 months of anticipation, the night had finally arrived for my friend and I to go and see the legendary John Malkovich’s performance at the Sydney Opera House as Giacomo Casanova in the Sydney Festival 2011 highlight piece Giacomo Variations, a chamber opera play based on the life and times of the infamous playboy of the 18th Century. I even had to miss out on an evening of White Collar for this! But it was a rare opportunity to see Malkovich in action doing live theatre and singing a little opera. And tickets had been sold out almost as quickly as they had been released so what could possibly go wrong?