What we know now

Drought and flooding rains have always been part of Australia’s weather landscape but climate change is also real. I’m always baffled about people doubting climate change yet still believing what our meteorologists tell us – I don’t think you can have one without the other in terms of the science behind both.

Climate change is also thematically expressed at the new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub and my friend ceramicist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen has a number of pieces on show (above) exploring this theme. I’d love to visit sometime instead of just driving past the new space (usually in a hurry). Term 1 has been a bit crazy with the return of children to school and the full gamut of out of school activity – I’m not surprised numbers are down for community sport as parents question the lunatic running around we did pre-COVID-19 and the chance to chill we’ve had over the past year.

I’m wondering how I will cope returning to the office for a likely minimum three days in a government organisation. Mr Rosanna and I are deliberating about the need for a second car. We’ve managed as a family with just one car all these years in Rosanna until now but with two lots of Saturday morning sport (in different locations and different times over the summer) and me returning to a (close to) CBD-based job, we may have to bite the bullet and buy a second car. Used car prices are at an all-time high due to the pandemic so some new car prices are actually comparable to second-hand. We will have to do some further research and investigation as well as toss up whether it’s another family-sized car or a smaller city car. While I’d love ‘a fun car not a mum car!’ – I don’t think I have much choice.

Aikido Shudokan HQ – Heidelberg West Industrial Estate

Speaking of investigation, Mr R and had an impromptu lunchtime sojourn during the week to the Heidelberg West Industrial Estate (also known as the Heidelberg West Business Park) while running errands. We were buying groceries from the new Fine Food Depot after dropping off a poster to be framed at The Print and Framing Company on Dougharty Road and decided to check out Ugo Cucina Popolare for coffee and cannoli – out the front of the Cannoleria HQ by That’s Amore cheese.

Let me just say that you can find all sorts of things in the back streets of the estate – Aikido! Badminton! Pigeon Racing! Neon signs since 1956! There are over 600 businesses to be found in the estate and you do need to keep your wits about you with all the trucks. I think it would make for a really interesting walking tour in time. We didn’t get to find Gridlock Coffee, Melbourne City Rooftop Honey, the Noo Moo vegan food truck, the little veggie patch co or Second Bite (next time!) but met the lovely Manon at Ugo where Mr R and I stopped for an al fresco coffee and got a takeaway box of cannoli (vanilla, chocolate and tiramisu-flavoured ricotta).

Manon behind the Ugo front counter – Cannoleria HQ

The other big surprise was parking across the road from Empire Music Studios (formerly Studio 52 located in Collingwood). Mr R has actually recorded a whole album’s worth of songs over the past few months and had already walked through the front door to explore before I crossed the road. We met the owner Paul Higgins who very kindly took us on a tour of all the studio spaces (there were some Pacific Islander musicians recording there on the day). He’s been the recipient of a Banyule Business grant and at a time when local businesses in the CBD, at the airport and in hard hit western suburbs are suffering – it’s a positive sign to see other businesses growing.

I’ve mentioned before that small businesses are the life blood of the Victorian economy. Most people think of the big retailers but it’s the many mums and dads out there, franchisees and start-up entrepreneurs that contribute to business in this state. Despite this, business owners often have less protection than mortgage owners in terms of bank loans and debt. If you are struggling, there is a Small Business Debt Hotline 1800 413 828. While some businesses will make it through this time, sadly many others won’t due to the level of debt they’re carrying or lack of customers (or both) and sometimes it’s better to cut your losses, get out early and take action to help yourself from falling any further behind.

Surely Easter must be coming soon and lucky you if you’ve started your break early taking leave this week.


A phoenix rising

Daylight savings ends soon and the change in season has been busy. We had an insane weekend attending two family functions, two basketball games, one football game (go Dees!) and one of our kids had been invited to two birthday parties. I spent Friday night and the past two days eating cake so some exercise is needed this week!

Watsonia public art mural by Helen Platania

I’ve had a really interesting fortnight job-hunting wise which culminated in me being offered not one but two jobs last week, which brought moral dilemmas of its own. I was lucky enough to pick up a 6 month contract for a strategic advisor role with a government utility via a recruiter but by the time background checks had been done and I was offered the contract mid-week, I’d already been interviewed for a permanent alumni role I’d applied for on SEEK prior to accepting the contract and was then asked to provide referees for the permanent role early last week. So everything ended up happening all at once.

I think I’d make a terrible poker player as I decided honesty is the best policy in the end rather than proceeding with the contract role and brought things to a halt letting the recruiter know how things had transpired. Needless to say, I think I landed roles with good people on both sides as the contract client was prepared to wait if I wasn’t offered the permanent role.

So where have I landed? I start work after Easter at ANZSOG – The Australia and New Zealand School of Government that teaches strategic management and high-level policy to public sector leaders. Given I’ve come from industry, I’ve been describing it to friends as like a Melbourne Business School but for the public sector if you work in government and wish to do a Master of Public Administration or Executive Fellows or strategic leadership short course. My role sits in the Marketing Communications team under the Education pillar (alongside Research and Thought Leadership) and I will definitely have my work cut out for me as the sole alumni representative. But hey, I’m up for the challenge after the year like no other!

I feel incredibly blessed given JobKeeper is coming to an end very soon for those in other industries and sadly for my higher education colleagues who were never given access to JobKeeper, I believe there will be further job losses. This was also my last roll of the alumni dice given roles are few and I was fully prepared to move to more of a communications and community engagement-type role.

If you have transferable skills then I hope you might take some comfort from my story and the fact that my friends who lost their jobs have all picked up work (albeit contract) since the start of this year. While persistence beats resistance and I have been on the front foot calling people and reaching out – in the end I’ve had to eat my words as the ANZSOG role was advertised on the open market and I had no contacts there so it didn’t come through my network (as much as I found out later one of my interviewers knew one of my referees – it is a small world in Melbourne). Reputation counts for a lot as well as being able to build relationships on the spot.

So that is my story for the week (and maybe for the year!) and while I have no picture of a phoenix rising from the ashes, I do have the Watsonia public art mural by Helen Platania (above) that features not one but two cockatoos – birds that can live up to 100 years. I’m not sure I’ll live that long but I definitely think it is possible to re-invent yourself and start a new life, a new relationship, a new job, whatever it is as long as you have hope and determination in your heart and do all you can to make it happen. If I can, then so can anyone else.

I can’t breathe

It’s the Grammy award winning song by H.E.R. (aka Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson) written in protest against systemic racism post-Black Lives Matter and indeed I feel like this strange liminal time we are now in has brought much social, cultural and political change to bear. With the great sisterhood and the good men who support them out in force today for March 4 Justice across the country, it’s not just the younger, woke generation who want to see the end of racism (and other forms of discrimination) and gender equality in their lifetime but older generations as well. For me as always, actions speak louder than words from those in positions of power to the average woman in the street and if behaviour change actually takes place. It’s given me pause for thought and the opportunity to re-imagine a different kind of future in a post-pandemic world. Nothing stays the same and perhaps nothing ever should in this case.

Image via Baketico

I return to work this week and will reveal more once things are confirmed suffice to say that I’ve had a number of job interviews in the past couple of weeks and now trying to work out my own way forward and what this looks like. The past couple of months at home has meant time to re-group, sort out some of my clutter (it’s amazing how good it feels to get on top of things) and get my kids settled into the new school year. My daily routine has consisted of waking up to guided meditation in the mornings and more time living and being in the moment enjoying the now. I’ve also had time to do some further online study on BuddhaNet revisiting Buddhist theory – while Buddhism is a religion – for me it’s always been more a way of thinking with its focus on pragmatism and application to the real world.

Image via Boca Gelato

It will be interesting to see what remains once I am back at work, which is always the challenge. Working from home over the past 12 months has given Mr Rosanna and I more time to be with our children, exercise and pursue our creative passions along with being just as productive at work (if not more) however in an ideal world, I think two days in the office and the remainder at home would make for a much more balanced existence across the board.

79 – 81 Buckingham Drive images above and below via Realestate.com.au

I’ve had a busy weekend including a raucous dinner with my besties at Hawker Hall on Saturday night but could hear the music playing from Parksounds yesterday and a couple of new local businesses have caught my eye including Baketico in Heidelberg Heights (where Jam and Cream used to be) and right next door to Cinch Training, where my friend Nikki Ellis can be found helping people find their fierce. I think if you are indulging in baked delights, then it’s helpful having a fitness studio right next door!

Boca Gelato by Coda and Tonka Chef Adam D’Sylva is also coming soon to Ivanhoe where Andrew’s Books used to be on Upper Heidelberg Road so while some local businesses have closed, it’s exciting to see new businesses emerge to replace them.

Speaking of exciting, I haven’t had a chance to have a sticky but this mid-century house (pictured above) at 79 – 81 Buckingham Drive in Heidelberg is a show stopper. The current owners have raised 4 children there so for a bigger family, it looks like suburban paradise…

From Italy to Japan

Beautiful Autumn weather this Labour Day weekend has lifted my spirits and I hope you feel the same way even if you’ve had a staycation in Melbourne like we have. Moomba’s on albeit in a COVID-safe way and it’s been a great weekend to go regional if you are lucky enough to be elsewhere. While we can’t travel internationally at the moment, we are lucky to live in such a multicultural city where there are experiences to be had not only in Melbourne but all around. I was very sad to hear about the sudden passing of Melbourne music impresario Michael Gudinski who has done so much for local music over so many years – Melbourne will not be quite the same without him.

A week is also a long time in politics and while I find it disturbing as a female to read about alleged transgressions by males in Parliament, the defence force and in schools – I think the fact this is now being raised with much more transparency across the board is a good thing – younger generations are speaking up and speaking out and not prepared to accept things as they are. What you are prepared to accept in life often reflects what you think you deserve on so many levels and I applaud many brave young women for stepping forward and shaking things up. It took me a number of years to realise this myself and continues to be a lifelong lesson now.

I’ve started having professional opportunities manifest a lot earlier than I anticipated, which reflects both the state of the Victorian economy (it is a better time to be looking for work than last year) as well as the work I’ve put in over the past 6 weeks. I have also just let go and continued to focus on maintaining equanimity – we can’t control what happens to us externally so I’ve worked on my internal foundation and self-validation rather than letting myself be affected by outside praise or blame or other events. It’s been a much better way to navigate life for me but I will reveal more next week about my job news as I also think financial independence whether you are partnered or not is vitally important, and to always give yourself choices in life. A number of my friends are now single parents and it has been eye-opening when you have backed yourself into a corner with little financial support or meaningful employment.

Giant Cannoli cake image via Pelligra Cakes

It is International Women’s Day next week so perhaps it’s no surprise these things are front and centre in the media – I also like the hashtag #choosetochallenge and will be taking this on board. On a less serious note, I continued my networking journey last week meeting Dani Ahimastos – Banyule Council’s Economic Development Coordinator working in the Banyule Business team at Pelligra Cakes in Greensborough where we had coffee and house-made cannoli (delicious!). She has had her work cut out for her as most local councils have helping small businesses recover. While there is no Banyule Women in Business lunch this March, there will be an event later this year and I’m very excited at the proposed female speaker if Dani and her team can make it happen – it will be right on point as they say. Stay tuned!

Demon Slayer image via Wikipedia

From Italy to Japan this weekend with Mr Rosanna and I taking one of our children and a friend to see Demon Slayer at IMAX Melbourne – yes the first time I’ve seen an anime film and this one is Japan’s all time highest grossing movie, which has earned over $400 million worldwide. It has an IMDB rating of 8.3 so it was a good one to watch. The things you do for your kids…

Junko Azugawa image via Banyule Council

Harmony Week is coming up and I think seeing Banyule artist-in residence Junko Azukawa (Japanese ink) perform with Japanese Taiko drummer Toshi Sakamato at the new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub, Yarra-me Djila Theatrette and outdoor courtyard at 12pm on Sunday 21 March (Harmony Day) may be more my thing.

Enjoy the rest of your long weekend!