Modern love

Winter starts tomorrow and I always look forward to making it past the solstice on 21 June – the days already feel long enough without there being less daylight. It’s not my favourite season but in this strange year, June actually means the easing of social distancing restrictions in Victoria and something to look forward to.

IMG_1187
12 The Esplanade Fairfield image by Jellis Craig

From FOMO to FOGO (fear of going out) – it’s definitely a weird feeling to start catching up with friends and family and it still feels counter-intuitive to not hug people after so long in lockdown. As a family, we will be taking it very easy and not rushing back to public indoor environments. The pandemic has accelerated the digital disruption and then some – the technology to work from home has been there for a while but it has taken COVID-19 for it to happen at scale almost overnight.

IMG_1217
1 Kenarra Court Hurstbridge image by Morrison Kleenman

I have been a little sad this past week looking at the imminent David Jones store closures including the Melbourne CBD men’s store in Bourke Street. My heady days in the late 1990s as their PR saw me working many glamorous events from the European and Australian Designer Collections parades on level 3 of the women’s store, food store events for people like celebrity Italian chef Antonio Carluccio and holding back the hordes lining up to have their Royal Doulton pieces signed by Michael Doulton in the home store. I was there for a number of very exclusive events including the launch of the Melbourne Bulgari store, a Vogue high tea event for the Melbourne Fashion Festival and other high fashion events – the highlight meeting a number of Australian and international fashion designers and make up artists including Akira Isogawa, Alannah Hill, Rosemary Armstrong from Tea Rose, Napoleon Perdis and Sue Devitt.

It is the end of an era and it’s been similar looking at Newscorp and the closure of regional and local newspapers including our very own Heidelberg Leader. Many of my media and communications colleagues got their first start working at regional newspapers as cadet journalists – it was a rite of passage for some. You can’t hold back the future and I am hopeful that other business models will replace what’s come before – life really is about adapting to change as the only constant and we have never been in more of a state of flux than right now.

The Melbourne Art Fair was supposed to launch tomorrow but has been shifted to 4 – 7 February next year – I’m sure a difficult decision for the organisers but perhaps the right call to make in this uncertain year.  Speaking of art, there is a currently a call out for entries for the A1 Darebin Art Salon being held from 10 July at the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre with many galleries and museums opening from tomorrow.

While it’s probably not a great time to be selling a house – 12 The Esplanade in Fairfield has caught my eye. It’s a mid-century marvel designed by modernist architect Neil Clerehan with gardens by landscape designer Gordon Ford and located in a cul de sac right near the Yarra river. It will make a beautiful sanctuary for one lucky family. Further out on the Hurstbridge train line, 1 Kenarra Court in Hurstbridge has also caught my attention for similar reasons.

Modern loves for a modern life – the times they are a-changing…

VUCA

Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity. It’s a military term that has taken off in leadership management circles the past few years, but I think it’s also an apt description for this time of living through a world-wide pandemic. I’ve never been great at ambiguity and uncertainty, but I’ve accepted this is where things are for now and perhaps a lot longer than any of us can guess.

IMG_9633

I’ve realised looking around my house there are certain themes of freedom, travel and movement represented, which is probably why it’s hard to stay at home when there’s a compulsion to move forward (just like our national symbols the kangaroo and the emu) and feel free. I think it’s why I love birds and what they symbolise.

IMG_5867

I was very taken with Cai Guo-Qiang’s Murmuration installation of 10,000 porcelain birds last year as part of the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at the NGV. And I wasn’t the only one given the gallery was able to successfully fundraise to secure his largest ever porcelain artwork as part of its contemporary art collection. Closer to home, the Freedom Bird project created by local artist Helen Platania invites children, adults, crafters and artists alike to download a 3D bird for a collaborative, community art project.

IMG_5876

I was watching The Teskey Brothers perform in the empty NGV as part of The State of Music last night. La Trobe University sponsors both the NGV and The Australian Ballet and performing arts companies are doing it very hard at the moment. The Australian Ballet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Victorian Arts Centre are all running free digital performances and I feel very lucky to live in a time where many of us can continue to work from home and be entertained with video on demand and livestream.

Drive-in cinemas look set to re-open in coming months but with that innovation too around drive-in live music and theatre shows, similar to what is being done in Europe as social distancing measures continue. Might need to rug up over winter but I think it’s a great idea to keep the music going!

One step at a time

Hmmm…I might need to be doing a lot more of that. I weighed myself for the first time last week (something I don’t normally do) and got a bit of a shock to find I am the heaviest I have ever been! Too many people have issues with ageing, body image and weight so I’m not getting too upset about it suffice to say I will definitely be reining in all the baking I’ve been doing – guilty of making cookies, muffins, cake, banana bread and scones these past few months and clearly a bit too much indulging going on.

IMG_1115

Walking is something that’s vastly under-rated and it was interesting to see Jono Lineen – the author of Perfect Motion on TV the other week talking about other benefits of walking in terms of making us wiser and more resilient in ways I’d not previously considered. I also subscribe to Victoria Walks and many friends are regular hikers who are no doubt very happy to see some social distancing measures being lifted. While we’ve largely continued to heed the stay at home message, we did venture out yesterday as a family for a walk near the river (below) in Warrandyte, which was glorious as has been the past few days in the Autumn sun.

IMG_1164

I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks helping my marketing colleagues film another young alumna – nursing graduate Yanti Turang who has been on the frontline in New Orleans dealing with COVID-19 in the US. Hers is an extremely inspiring story – she’s been a hard person for me to catch with the time difference but also featured in our online Year of the Nurse event last Tuesday celebrating the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and the  200th Birthday of the founder of Nursing, Florence Nightingale.

IMG_1122

 

La Trobe University has also pivoted in a number of ways (with a raft of new online short courses soon to be launched) including the free 12-week online COVID-19 Industry Response Program for local small business being run by my La Trobe Accelerator colleagues and a similar free 12-week online Leadership Professional Development Program run by our MBA area. If you have time on your hands as a small business owner or individual affected by the pandemic, I would encourage you to apply for one of these courses and up-skill while you have the time.

School’s back very soon and with the lifting of some restrictions, I hope to catch up with family and friends face-to-face very soon. I am going to wait a couple of weeks and will be taking a pretty conservative approach given some indoor environments seem to be more risky – Mr Rosanna and I expect to continue to work from home in the short term and possibly a lot longer. I did see a black public order response police car the other day (the first time ever) and have downloaded the COVIDSafe app as much as it feels a bit Big Brother – some shades of George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four in 2020. Who would have thought? Life is turning out to be stranger than fiction.

Mum’s the word

How are you faring self isolation-wise? The whiff of freedom is tantalisingly close this Mother’s Day weekend if you can continue to hang in there and I am looking forward to what our State Premier has to say on Monday in terms of loosening restrictions in Victoria. It has been a long haul for many of us but I think there’s been a lot of silver linings as well reducing the busy-ness of daily life and commuting, more time spent with family and friends virtually or in real life and perhaps some real innovation that remains post-pandemic.

IMG_1057
Ridge jacket by Nancybird

I’ve mused aloud in the past about staggered start and finish times work-wise to reduce public transport and vehicle traffic on our roads and the need for large-scale structural change. It’s taken COVID-19 for this to be realised in a matter of weeks and months as businesses and organisations now look at how staff return to offices and workplaces (a likely staged approach), children returning to school, ongoing flexibility to work from home, greater pedestrian and cycling paths in the city and other innovation that may actually benefit us and the environment in times to come.

IMG_1068
Online workshops image by Nicola Cerini

It’s also been great to see the prominence given to experts – doctors, scientists, academics and traditional news media outlets (albeit in different online mediums) instead of celebrities as we look to evidence-based research and science for facts. Interesting too to see which jobs have been considered essential and I hope that people will treat supermarket staff, teaching, nursing and other staff with newfound respect. Scientists may yet become the new sexy! I hope a vaccine or drugs to counteract the pandemic is developed in the next 18 months.

IMG_1061
Artist print by Earth Greetings

I’ve been doing a lot more cooking and baking at home – I ran out of eggs last night and was pleasantly surprised to find that Four Leaves cafe (below) in Rosanna had pivoted to groceries on top of still doing pizza and takeaway food. It was previously a grocery store cum cafe so has completed the circle in its current iteration.

IMG_1101

There are a number of local retailers selling lovely things for mums – online gift vouchers from Pretty Intense in Rosanna, click and collect gifts from Heide in Bulleen, bouquets from French Blue Flowers in Heidelberg (if you’d ordered early enough) and sold out high tea packages from Second Home Eltham. I’ve also seen pretty pastel things via some of the Australian retailers I receive e-newsletters from including Nancybird, Nicola Cerini and Earth Greetings.

IMG_1084
Sabina Musayev Diamond top and skirt image by Husk

 

At the moment I am wearing loungewear brought to you by the House of Uniqlo and Ugg on my beer budget (I have requested a Chinese money plant from Mr Rosanna for Mother’s Day) but dreaming of glittering times in the future. For the glam mum with champagne tastes, Husk Clothing continues to stock some beautiful clothes for evening adventures in another time and place.

 

 

 

 

The art of letting go

It is difficulties that show us who we are (borrowed from Greek philosopher Epictetus). I’ve taken a bit of licence with his quote but I’m sure you get the drift. We are all in this together and all of us are having to live through difficult times. It is defining our character as individuals in choosing how we react to our circumstances – it’s been interesting for me to observe some people I know who were initially pleading to be locked down now complaining about how hard they are finding things.

IMG_1050

We don’t know what we don’t know given this time is unprecedented but we can still choose to be happy every day and live in the now focusing on what we have and can do rather than mourn and dwell on the things we can’t. If you can take a step back and step above all that is going on and view as a dispassionate observer then that is a strength at this time. I don’t blame anyone who isn’t coping at the moment but we always have the power to choose our own actions and reactions and to be more aware of, and control, our thoughts rather than allowing them to control us.

IMG_1051

While I have downloaded Normal People on my Kindle (the series of which has just been released on Stan) after giving a hard copy to a friend when it was first released, there are two other books by Australian journalists that I think would make for an uplifting read at this time and are on my list. They are Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales and the other is Phosphorescence by Julia Baird. Both writers have experienced hard times themselves but come out on the other side writing these books which show resilience, awe and wonder are still attainable even when things are extremely dark and the worst has happened.

IMG_1069

Local small businesses are doing it hard at the moment and Mr Rosanna and I dropped into 20th Century Furniture and Homewares Store Clavel on Bell Street in Heidelberg yesterday after noticing it in the rain as we were driving past to wash our dog at Petbarn. The two beautiful Art Deco sunburst chairs with the toucan print outside had caught my eye as well as the  bright blue shopfront (below with a rather pensive and hairy looking Mr R). We had a brief look inside and chat with Theo the owner and if you are still working and need to buy furniture – I highly recommend a visit. There were more stunning mid-century items inside and a warehouse room next store which was like going into an Aladdin’s Cave. Local goodness still abounds if you are able to support…

IMG_1070

 

Play on

As the global economy continues its state of free fall, it’s been hard to let go and accept what is has brought. It has been a somewhat grim week ending with disrupted Anzac Day celebrations where our thoughts have been with those who fought for us in the past and those fighting for us now – all frontline workers including the four police officers so tragically killed on the Eastern freeway. There is a local fundraising event Run Rosanna for Vic Police on Saturday 2 May if you are in a position to give.

IMG_0836
Me at the Ivanhoe Harriers 6km handicap last month before the shutdown

Speaking of which, I have gone cap in hand this week personally asking a number of alumni to donate to the La Trobe Student Crisis Appeal which ends on 30 April – I am hopeful of reaching our $550k target given there’s less than $30k to go. While I generally work in the volunteering space asking alumni to only give back their time and talent, this week I have asked for treasure in the form of money and have had success, so maybe yet I will make a fundraiser.

More seriously, depending on what happens with the higher education sector and any kind of government support (none of which looks forthcoming at this stage) – stand downs and redundancies may be on their way and it has given me pause for thought regarding what next if need be – potentially a return to study if Mr Rosanna can hold on to his job. While I have previously seen my long term future in this sector (and in Alumni Relations and Advancement), Covid-19 has completely turned many of us on our heads as the jobs and security we knew and took for granted are carried away into the ether. Unfortunately, more pain lies ahead but it has given me a chance to practise equanimity and live in the present, which I get to unwrap each day and enjoy with grace and good humour.

Despite the physical restrictions of now, there is freedom of thought and no-one can take away your values or dignity in the words of Asylum Seeker Resource Centre CEO and La Trobe alumnus Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM – who made such a powerful speech and impression on me at one of last year’s graduations ceremonies. We have all been forced to pivot and innovate and perhaps be re-born on the other side of this pandemic. The planet and wildlife – our creatures in the sea and sky and on the earth – are being given a chance to re-generate and renew and my hope is we move to a more sustainable existence as restrictions slowly end in time. We are still in such a position of great privilege compared with many of our overseas counterparts and I think this time of living a simple life in this make or break year has made many of us question – how much is enough and how much do we really need in order to be happy?

Like my current Director, I am a fan of many sporting analogies including quotes sprouted by past AFL football coaches along the lines of no matter where the game is – just do something, do anything but continue to play on and worry about the inputs not the outcomes, which will take care of themselves. I hope like me, no matter what your current circumstances are, you will continue to play on in the game of life and be happy now.

Kapow!

Luxury may be hard to come by these days but it’s still nice to dream. Tiffany and Co has launched its T1 range of rose gold (with silver to come) jewellery (pictured below) and I’m loving the bold design representing courage, strength and optimism – tres bling! I’ve also loved their more modern HardWear collection launched a couple of years ago, which symbolises New York – a place that is doing it hard at the moment but one I still hope to visit at some future point when life returns to normal.

IMG_0981

Like many people, I’m now staring down the barrel of reduced pay or hours (or both), which is better than losing my job altogether. Many people are struggling financially and otherwise and I’ve been making hard choices regarding which individuals and businesses to support with the money I have as I’m sure is the case with many of you too. International students are doing it particularly hard given the situation they now find themselves in with the government putting Australians first – it’s pretty dire for those missing out on any kind of support. Beyond the health crisis, the government and big business in particular will need to lead the way out economically on the other side. We are lucky to be thinking along these lines given how well we’ve been able to contain the coronavirus, buying ourselves time to prepare and plan. Interesting to see some of the opposition’s comments this week criticising the Chief Health Officer (which they’re fully entitled to do) but I do think now is a time for solidarity and political bi-partisanship and it’s not going to win them any favours. We all need to be playing for #TeamAustralia regardless of which way we normally swing.

IMG_0982

I’ve spent this week on leave de-cluttering my house. After 12 years in Rosanna, it’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate. It’s been good to distract myself and show something for my time off although there are no judgements here if you are spending your time just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s been challenging for many people who have children supervising their home schooling on top of working this first week of term 2. I still have more de-cluttering to do but I think the physical act of creating more space has been good mentally for me – it’s good to live light.

IMG_0997
I love linen bedset

I’ve also had a number of catch ups with friends and family – this week having a special Zoom session with over a dozen of my University friends – some of who are based interstate and overseas in Asia and Europe. It was like The Brady Bunch on steroids with each of us getting floor time to talk about ourselves – what we are doing now and how we are coping at this time. It was quite cathartic to share how we were feeling over two hours and as one friend commented, it almost felt like an outing. We will catch up again soon and it’s an incredible privilege to be in a position to do this.

IMG_1001

Mother’s Day is coming up and while I’m on the topic of indulgences, I am going to put linen sheets on my wish list – something I’ve never had but always wanted. I love linen do some beautiful sets and you can order free samples to check what colours look like in real life prior to making a purchase. I also bought some of Endota Spa’s Signature Blend hand and body lotion (pictured above) last year after having a treatment while on holiday and it’s been a great reminder of the spa experience using it daily at home.

A number of Melbourne’s fine dining restaurants have pivoted to takeaway including Di Stasio and Shane Delia’s Maha Go and if you have the budget, it’s a great opportunity to order delivery meals from places you wouldn’t ordinarily visit. Locally, Mercers in Eltham is also offering takeaway if you have a special occasion that you now have to celebrate at home.

IMG_1002

While I bought some hairdressing scissors this week and had a go at my fringe (with limited success!), my friend Jonno from Valiant Barbers in Heidelberg Heights has cautiously re-opened if you have big or little men who need a haircut and you’re prepared to risk it. Local florist French Blue Flowers on Burgundy Street has also re-opened and selling beautiful bouquets and tulip bunches. These beautiful dahlias from Club Creek Bulb Farm are also being sold for $12 a bunch (pictured above) at the Alphington Farmers Market if you’re looking for a pop of colour to cheer you up.

IMG_0992

For us, our luxury living in this part of the world is regular ‘forest bathing’ as a family in the secluded Banyule Flats (above) where you can still find yourself largely alone despite the number of people now visiting parks. Bliss…