A Christmas thought

I’ve not yet started winding down for Christmas but hoping to in the next week.  I rushed past a woman walking leisurely down my street last week and realised that’s been my usual pace so have been mindful of trying to slow down ever since.

Christmas Projection at Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne Town Hall Christmas projection image via Wikipedia

I’ve been thinking about the meaning of Christmas for me this year as I’ve started reflecting on the year that’s been – we’ve had a good year albeit a terribly busy one but it’s been a very productive and expansive 12 months for us.  For some of my family and close friends, it’s been a much more difficult year with diagnoses of serious illnesses, challenges with children or parents and other extremely traumatic events which have me marvelling at the endurance of the human spirit and the ability to go on, even when things are really tough.  We are stronger and more resilient than we think – life goes on and we must keep going with it, even when we don’t feel that we can.

There are over three million people in Australia who live below the poverty line and it’s something that’s given me pause for thought this Christmas – as the eldest child who grew up in a single parent family, I have some understanding of how hard life can truly be when circumstances conspire against you.  But equally, I believe in the three ‘E’s’ – education, employment and (self) esteem.  Education is a way out of poverty and with that employment – a meaningful job that allows you to build a sense of pride and self esteem and a means of living a positive and productive life.

While sometimes we can’t help our circumstances – they don’t need to define you as a person – it’s what you do with what you have at the time that counts – some of the most successful people I know are self-made.  We are all responsible for our own lives and our behaviour towards other people irrespective of good times or bad, are to me, the real markers of someone’s character, sense of self-responsibility and determination, and level of emotional maturity.

Generosity of spirit, consideration and thoughtfulness towards your friends, family, neighbours and strangers with actions that demonstrate your respect and care are the things that help build great communities and enable closeness, friendship, peace and understanding.

It’s given me something to think about this Christmas – to let go of grudges, to show compassion and forgive those we think have wronged us or who are undeserving in some way but to also seek forgiveness from those we’ve hurt – unintentionally or otherwise – and to let go, to accept and to move on knowing no-one is to blame – sometimes it isn’t personal or intentional and sometimes it says more about the other person than ourselves.  We are all imperfect human beings who each play a part in things in this game we call life.  Without forgiveness, and when people are treated as less than human or as somehow different from us, there can be no love in the world and we all go on the merry go round of anger, mistrust and negativity and the cycle continues.

With that in mind, I wish you peace in the lead up to Christmas, especially if you’ve been as frazzled as me, and I’ll be back with more later this week.

Advertisements

Glitz and glam

I had coffee this morning at Hunter Lane Cafe in Rosanna (there’s car parking behind the library) and it’s fantastic to see owners Dani and Dennis both receive the Mayoral Choice Award in the recent BestBiz Awards.  I do feel like the whole Village is undergoing a resurgence with new shops, cafes and restaurants slowly starting to open in, and around the Lower Plenty Road strip and perhaps Rosanna’s time has come.

main20banner-37
Wonderlust collection image via Wedgwood Australia

Speaking of getting all decked out for Christmas – I have been eyeing off Wedgwood’s Wonderlust collection inspired by the wonders of travelling from Europe through Asia.  I’ve also long admired the Hermes Balcon du Guadalquivir chinaware inspired by Andalusian iron work – a touch of the exotic for the every day if you can afford it.

zoom_variation_pebble_view_01_1290x1380
Alice McCall ‘I feel it coming dress’ image via David Jones

You may also be preparing to slip into something more stylish for Christmas and I do love some of the more glamorous dresses from Australian designers Alice McCall and Rebecca VallanceStudio Elke also does some pretty amazing handmade statement jewellery if you’re after something special.  Our friend local jeweller Amy Renshaw also does glitter earrings if you’re a fan of these.

semo2a_1_1024x1024
Magnetic earrings by Studio Elke

The countdown is on until Christmas and the Kris Kringle Night Market at the Northcote Town Hall started a while ago while the Coburg Night Market is being held tonight.  The Sisters Market in Brunswick is also on today and tomorrow if you’re in the area.

Nb. Miss Rosanna is sponsored by Hunter Lane Cafe

 

From El Salvador to Japan

Having not one but two birthdays in my family just before Christmas every year always kills me and this year was no exception.  I spent most of this weekend eating but the good thing was that it took our minds and attention off the miserable and wet weather conditions.

Poor Mr Rosanna’s birthday is always overshadowed now but we managed to salvage the day by taking him out for brunch at new Rosanna cafe The Pioneer, which is firmly on the map after a visit from our Premier Daniel Andrews MP last week.  The front tables were taken but we were given some seats in the back room (above) with the square communal table that seats 12, housing the Christmas tree, which small people came to look at while we were there.

The owner has a social enterprise background but this is his own first cafe and what I love even more is that he is a local and an El Salvadoran Australian so the menu is Spanish-influenced.  Despite the drizzle, the place was still rockin’ on Saturday morning with very much an inner-city vibe – I still find it hard to believe sleepy Rosanna is finally starting to wake up.  The coffee and the meals (above) were fantastic – as good as you’ll find in Fitzroy or Collingwood.  On a sunnier day, it would also be lovely to spend time in the back courtyard tables so it’s great to see this former newsagency transformed into something of the times.  Interesting too to know that besides a Woolworths supermarket, Chemist Warehouse is also coming to Rosanna Village in the near future on the corner of Lower Plenty Road and Bellevue Avenue where Meridian Travel used to be and going all the way up to where Chris the Cobbler (who’ll be moving to Macleod) has been for over 30 years!  They made him an offer too good to refuse…

Mr R’s day didn’t stop there as I’d booked dinner for us a while ago at Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, which was also a great experience given the conditions outside.  Brunswick Street is always pretty busy on a Saturday night but it was jumping (and dark!) inside the restaurant where we had a booth table after Dani from Hunter Lane Cafe had recommended me booking.  There was some pretty awesome 70s dance music on high rotation while we were there so I found it hard to sit still – it’s got a great atmosphere and reminded me a bit of Garden State Hotel in the city with all the different layers and parts to it upstairs and downstairs.  There was a private function going on upstairs but the Village People rooftop bar with hawker style dining would also make a great date night venue.  The mixed sushi and sashimi platter that we had (above) was beautifully presented and there was a team of Japanese chefs behind the counter doing their thing.  I’ve not been to the sister restaurant in St Kilda but I think it would be just as good.  It was interesting too to note that we weren’t the oldest people in the joint – I think there are a number of older people now downsizing and moving to the inner city.

We’d walked past a number of cool looking bars and restaurants on the way to Ichi Ni Nana including The Rooks Return, Smith & Daughters and Bon Ap but ended up at Uptown Jazz Cafe where we had a drink and stayed for a couple of songs by a jazz trio playing two sets that night.  It was a great way to spend a Saturday night in Melbourne.

IMG_3802

We also had dinner at local favourite Benjamin’s Kitchen in Alphington on Friday night followed by ice cream at Fairy Hills Ice Cream in Ivanhoe (in a great location on Lower Heidelberg Road opposite Ivanhoe Grammar) where we played a game of Uno.  We were at Leo’s Fine Food briefly over the weekend (where again I am loving all the Christmas packaging for imported European foodstuffs like Italian Panettone above) and I noticed that ice creamery Wally & Fletcher on Burgundy Street is just about to open so Fairy Hills will have a new local competitor.  I am hoping the weather picks up again for all of them as I think it would be great to share the ice cream love.

Nb. Miss Rosanna is sponsored by Hunter Lane Cafe

#MeToo

It’s the viral campaign of women sharing stories of sexual abuse and harassment and while it’s been incredibly disturbing to hear about the Harvey Weinsteins and Don Burkes of this world, I can’t help but feel it’s also a good thing to have such disgusting and unacceptable behaviour outed.

feminism_podcastonline
Image via http://www.intelligencesquared.com

I work in a media and communications team with a couple of ex-television news readers and it was also interesting to go out with my two bosses and broadcaster Francis Leach the other night for dinner and conversation as I think such behaviour has been fairly rife in both the music and entertainment world and perhaps just the tip of the iceberg.  I am hopeful that as more women rise into senior ranks and positions of power that this will change.

220px-ita_buttrose_2014
Ita Buttrose image via Wikipedia

 

I think I’ve been fairly lucky working in PR most of my life as it’s a female-dominated industry with mainly women also working in many of the industries I’ve chosen like fashion, beauty, retail and visual art.  I’ve never experienced sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace although unfortunately I can’t say the same for public spaces like bars, clubs and on the street.  If I had gone into journalism, my preference would have been to work for a magazine but again, the likes of these Sydney-based publishing companies have also been run, in the main, by women although I think we have champions like Ita Buttrose, Lisa Wilkinson, Marina Go and Mia Freedman who’ve also paved the way for the next generations.  I have always found these women inspiring as role models.  I think if I’d gone into radio or TV, then it might have been a different story given the amount of men who’ve traditionally worked in these organisations (and who still mainly do).

lisa_wilkinson_28845084084629
Lisa Wilkinson image via Wikipedia

I led a focus group a couple of weeks ago with a number of 20-somethings and it was also a fascinating exercise into not only the topics that interest them; but the way in which they engage.  They’re a picky bunch and the online world is just as real to them as face-to-face connection as much as this Gen X-er disagrees.  I think you lose something when all communication is done via a screen – the subtle nuances of body language and social skills are diminished for me as much as social media is convenient!  It’s indeed a brave new world and I look forward to incorporating some of these topics into the 2018 Bold Thinking Series.

The rain has arrived here in Melbourne and after multiple events on every night this week and more to come, it’s been nice to have a breather.  Stay dry!

Good Tidings

It’s the name of the book being launched at the Eltham Library on 10 December on the power of good people and I think it’s an important thing to remember when we’re bombarded with media images of violence and terror happening on the international stage.  There are more good people in the world than bad and I wish the world more peace in the lead up to Christmas.  Hosted by the Eltham Bookshop and published by Wild Dingo Press, the book is a story of courage, resilience, hope and hearts filled with compassionate friendship between Sri Lankan refugee Para Paheer and local penfriend Alison Corke – things which are greater things to meditate and ruminate on.

powerofgoodpeople_elthamlibrary_website_20nov17-1
Image via Wild Dingo Press

There’s also some interesting performing arts events on around the place including local heats at Deadly Funny at the Darebin Arts Centre on the 10 December if you’re cheeky and loud, black and proud.  If you’re a fan of Tim Winton’s books, a sprawling stage adaptation of Cloudstreet is being held at the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre from 5 – 16 December, tickets of which are now on sale at TryBooking.

cloudstreet_web-banner
Image via Bundoora Homestead Art Centre

It is a cultural week in that Banyule Arts and Culture also announces its 2018 plans on 8 December at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe.

marmosetfound07_1440x640
Image via Marmoset Found

If you’ve started getting your house in order for Christmas celebrations, it’s worth noting that local homewares store Marmoset Found is having a warehouse sale, along with neighbouring outlet Sage and Clare on this coming Friday and Saturday at 21 Albert Street in Northcote.

kara-baker-ss-home-2018-04-666x720
Image via Kara Baker

If you’re a fan of bespoke fashion, local maven Kara Baker is launching her Beach collection on Wednesday 6 December from 5 – 9 pm at 1/414 Bourke Street although I prefer some of her latest Spring Summer range including this beautifully tailored dress above.  You’ll need to book a private appointment if you wish to attend at kara@karabaker.com

Back to the future

It’s been a big week and it’s not over yet.  My last Bold Thinking Series lecture for 2017 on the future of Universities at the State Library Theatrette with MC Virginia Trioli and the three Vice-Chancellors from La Trobe, Melbourne and Monash Universities went well on Wednesday night despite a couple of technical hitches at the start.  I ended up having to give up the hand-held microphone I use to roam amongst the audience for questions to outgoing Melbourne University VC Glyn Davis after his headset mic stopped working, leaving just me to cover the floor during the lecture, instead of our usual two people.  The discussion item that did not get asked on the night was the interesting fact that Glyn Davis and Margaret Gardner are actually married to each other yet work at competing universities – a colleague was playfully calling them the ‘Posh & Becks’ of the University sector!

FullSizeRender
L-R: Virginia Trioli, Glyn Davis, John Dewar, Margaret Gardner

It was also an experience to work with Virginia Trioli – an impressive, seasoned media professional who also had her own ideas to add to the mix, which made the lecture a little bit different in terms of format.  Francis Leach will be returning as our usual MC in 2018 and I’m looking forward to catching up with him next week for a thank you dinner.  I’m now in planning mode for next year and it’s been interesting working with a 20-something focus group on the topics they’re interested in….stay tuned!

baagatnight
Image via BAAG

La Trobe University is not the only one to be turning 50 this year, Bulleen Art & Garden also celebrates its 50th Birthday Party and Sculpture Garden Launch on 30 November.  Tickets are free but you will need to register to attend.

20861865_1447714795306124_2194225866864763645_o
Image via The Big Design Market Facebook page

Some design and craft events on this weekend include the pop up Design Files Open House in Collingwood from 10am – 5 pm, which opened yesterday as well as the German Christmas Market at the Deustche Schule in Fitzroy, which opens tonight at 5pm.  The Etsy Made Local Melbourne market is being held in Coburg tomorrow while The Big Design Market (started by a friend of a friend) at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton opens next Friday.

Locally, St Martin of Tours Rosanna’s Twilight Community Fete is on tonight, the Eaglemont Village Christmas Market is on tomorrow while Macleod Village has its Christmas Fair on next Saturday.

The show must go on…

…and it did at soundvision on Saturday night at La Trobe University, despite the pouring rain that occurred during the more family-friendly hours of 4 – 6 pm.  While it was a shame for my colleagues who organised the event, lots of people still turned up after the rain had stopped to see acts including Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, The RAAH project and The Bombay Royale.  That’s Melbourne weather for you in the Spring time – it can be anything from freezing cold to blistering heat to pouring rain as we saw on the weekend.IMG_6555

Speaking of Spring, many of us have started hitting the gym or the track in an effort to get fit for summer which includes baring more of our bodies.  My local beauty therapist at Pretty Intense has been busy since the end of Winter with more people spending money on grooming and preening.IMG_6556

They stock a lovely local product made on the Mornington Peninsula called Olieve & Olie, which I have my eye on as Christmas gifts.  While I do love high-end products like Aesop, they carry a pretty hefty price tag and I’ve also been given some more affordable skincare created by Melbourne naturopath Jacqueline Evans.  I also like the ‘man candles’ from another local company L’Ascari which come beautifully packaged (they also do solid cologne and fragrance) while I have also placed a recent order for some new nail polish from Australian-made, cruelty-free and vegan Kester Black.IMG_6554

When I worked as PR for Aveda many years ago (which incidentally was also founded by an ex-male hairdresser turned skincare entrepreneur), they didn’t produce nail polish in their cosmetic range due to the amount of chemicals in most commercial products.  It’s been great to see that more environmentally-friendly nail polish like Kester Black is now available.  There’s not long now until Christmas although we will still hold out in our family until December to start hanging our decorations and putting the tree up…

IMG_6560