Twoobs, teapots and dumplings

Welcome to 2020 – the dawn of a new year and a new decade. I wish you lots of good things for the next 12 months and beyond. A lot can happen in a decade – for me it was largely spent raising children and returning to work in whatever capacity I could initially manage to end the decade working 4 days back in an organisation (or institution in my case). As a couple and family we also travelled to Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Greece and I hope that more overseas adventures lie ahead in the next 10 years – Japan and the USA are both on my bucket list as well as returning to Europe but school fees and a mortgage may impact on my ambitions.

I hope you had a great Christmas spent with your biological family (or ‘logical’ family as my friends in the LGBTQI community say). Like many people, I spent mine with my immediate and extended family eating lots of ham and turkey during the day, a swim for the kids and present opening in the afternoon and a seafood dinner to end the night. My morning also started at 6am when my two very excited children burst into our bedroom to open their presents so it was a long day.

IMG_0507

I needed to change into something more comfortable (with an elasticised waist!) in the evening so glad I brought a change of clothes and a recent Twoobs shoe purchase (above) – they are the vegan shoes made by Melbourne-based fashion blogger sisters Jess and Stef Dadon from How Two Live. I have to say they are super light and super comfy – perfect for summer down at the beach or by the pool.

IMG_0519

Mr Rosanna and I have difficulty every year buying each other presents – both of us are quite particular and want to be more mindful and creative about what we do choose to purchase. So I ended up accompanying Mr R on his shopping quest for me which included the buying of a Japanese cast iron teapot and trivet from T2 – this time in white (pictured above) – to complement the black one which my sister Ange who lived in Japan for many years brought back for me as a gift.

IMG_0520

One of my more creative gifts for Mr R this Christmas was buying him a dumpling making voucher (for both of us) from Angie at The Humble Dumpling in Fairfield and presenting it in a dim sum bamboo steamer. We are looking forward to doing a workshop at some stage this year.

IMG_0521

If you’re lucky enough to be down at the beach or bush somewhere – you may be interested in some summer reading, podcasting or online courses. After speed reading Boy Swallows Universe, I’ve got some more philosophical books (below) to read courtesy of Mr Rosanna.

IMG_0510

If you’re interested, this year’s Bold Thinking Series lectures are all available as podcasts and Harvard University also runs a number of free online courses – one of which I hope to complete over the summer.

I look forward to sharing more adventures with you in this exciting new decade where anything can happen. Stay safe, stay positive and stay well this summer.

Reading is my secret power

Love Your Bookshop Day was last weekend and it’s great to see some bookshops still flourishing despite others closing. Children’s books have weathered the storm of the digital age and one thing we’ve always done as parents is read to our kids since they were toddlers and passed on our love of books and reading, which apparently does make you smarter!

IMG_9997

I attended last night’s sold out Bold Thinking Series lecture on Breaking taboos: What’s Off-Limits in Children’s Books? with children’s author and current Australian Children’s Laureate Morris Gleitzman, (pictured left of stage above) La Trobe academic Professor Jo Lampert, MC Francis Leach and Dr Juliet O’Conor, children’s research librarian at the State Library Victoria. This was one of the last events I organised before moving into the Alumni and Advancement Office early this year. I got to the State Library Theatrette just in time to take my seat at the back before the show began.

While all the panellists spoke beautifully on the trickiness of difficult subject matter in children’s books last night, Morris himself was delightful. Not all writers make great speakers but he has a voice made for radio! Lucky too in that ABC Radio National did record the event and you can catch the clever conversation once the podcast is shortly made available.

Some other related events include the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week that starts tomorrow and the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, which starts on 30 August and whose theme this year is ‘When we talk about love’.

Meanwhile locally, the Banyule Award for Works on Paper finalists’ exhibition opens on the 28 August and I remember meeting the very interesting self-proclaimed book sculptor Nicholas Jones a number of years ago at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe and coveting one of his beautiful pieces. Given the awful weather outside, a bit of reading indoors might be the go this weekend.

 

Fri-yay!

A holiday can’t come soon enough for our family. We’ve had a big start to the year and will continue to be busy through the winter but at least it will take my mind off the weather. Busy-ness is the curse of modern life and I don’t say it with pride but resignation. At the moment I’ve accepted where we’re at but I’m hoping to cut back on the amount of things we’re doing as it’s not sustainable in the long run nor does it make for a terribly balanced life.

All the half yearly sales have started early so I’ve visited both Northland and Westfield Doncaster the past two weekends stocking up on luggage, activewear and children’s shoes and clothes. I don’t love shopping centres in general but they do serve a purpose and sale time is the right time to buy. If you’re a fan of Uniqlo, then you’ll be happy to know it opens early next month at Northland.

For slow fashion fans, the Flat Iron warehouse sale is on at 54 Gwynne Street in Cremorne from 11am – 4 pm tomorrow while The Conscious Closet sale is on from 11am – 3pm at Fitted for Work, Basement Entry, 210 Lonsdale Street in the city. I was lucky enough to work with ethicist Peter Singer’s wife Renata a couple of years ago (on the Bold Thinking Series lecture Forever Young) who had a very impressive background as one of the original co-founders of Fitted for Work splitting her time between Melbourne and New York.

unnamed

I also wanted to do a shout out for The Pioneer Cafe in Rosanna which is holding its monthly 3 course dinner (menu above) on Saturday 22 June if you’re interested in the Spanish-themed event. I had a little moment last week when I had not one but two Columbians on my front porch – my son’s music teacher Pablo had lined up replacement teacher Carlos for a meet and greet – it’s certainly got a lot more international in Melbourne.

IMG_9713

I’ve also been spending time in Thornbury the past couple of months and love that Zak’s Surfboards have a shop (pictured above) in the area given my love of all things slightly incongruous. It’s not far from Greek social club the Olympian Society whose logo also caught my eye this week and made me nostalgic after our inspiring trip to the Greek Islands this time last year.

 

 

Power and privilege

It’s been an interesting election weekend – a lot of people voted early so it was pretty subdued at the local primary school compared with previous elections. I wonder if it reflects the state of the Australian psyche regarding all things political and I wonder too if Bob Hawke’s passing may clinch the deal for the Labor party.

IMG_9574

I attended my first graduation ceremony at La Trobe University during the week – something I’d not previously done despite working at the University for three years now. While Olivia Newton-John received her honorary doctorate last year, this year’s recipient was Kon Karapanagiotidis (above) from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, twice a La Trobe alumnus, whom I was lucky enough to work with in 2017 for the Bold Thinking Series lecture on Social Cohesion in the Goulburn Valley held in Shepparton. My colleagues and I said a short hello to him before official proceedings and have been very proud to call him one of our own.

IMG_9572
L-R: Kon Karapanagiotidis and La Trobe Chancellor John Brumby AO

So while I had seen him previously speak in a public forum, his keynote speech to students was a rousing and impassioned one, if not a little evangelical in nature, where he asked graduands “what are you going to do with your power and your privilege?”. You can watch the full speech here. Kon had also brought his mum with him who was sitting in the row behind me and his speech was also very moving with him tearing up while talking about his parents’ sacrifices in his early days as the child of immigrants who could not speak the language but had a great love of this country. He spoke of love, of hope, of culture and community and the things that bind us together as people and his message regarding the fact that your integrity and your values are things that no-one can take away from you regardless of your circumstances.

On another note, I did want to mention that the next Bold Thinking Series lecture is on Can dogs heal hearts and minds? and there will be two therapy dogs present at the event being held at the State Library Theatrette on 13 June. I read with interest about a recent National Australia Bank study that found that owning a dog, cat or other animal was an overwhelming factor for improving our sense of satisfaction, life worth and happiness as the top influence adding to our wellbeing as recorded by economists.

fullsizeoutput_1ac3

Also on tomorrow is World Bee Day Celebration at the Alphington Farmer’s Market from 9am  – 1pm and I must admit I’m always happy to see the bees happily buzzing around in my backyard which are one of the signs of healthy local ecology and environment. If you are a fan of bees, you might also love the handmade necklaces by UK designer Alex Monroe (above) available locally from The Fairfax Store. My current boss, who is British, has one in rose gold and it’s a lovely symbol to have around your neck!

Fitter, faster, stronger

It’s the name of the first Bold Thinking Series lecture for 2019 at the State Library on 14 March and my former team and I had managed to nominally program most of this year’s content late last year including having some initial meetings regarding this event. People are living longer (and stronger) and in many ways, we need to prepare for the 100-year life as a new kind of normal. The Bold Thinking event will consider whether we’re overdoing sporting excellence but in a country where overweight and obesity have been on the rise, I tend to think it’s the opposite in many ways. I also read the news last night about Julie Bishop resigning from Parliament and am really glad I got the opportunity to work with her on one of her last public events as a working politician last November. It is a loss for Australian political life and I hope there may be someone like her who advances in the ranks sometime soon.

I’ve been in my new job in the Advancement Office (as it will soon be known) at La Trobe for a month now and I’ve been really enjoying it. My head has started to spin less as things become more familiar and I’ve started crafting a more strategic communications approach in terms of engaging Young Alumni (graduates Under 35 years) this year and beyond.

IMG_9232

Speaking of fitness – I’ve walked past the new Wellness Station on Burgundy Street in Heidelberg – it’s been beautifully kitted out and offers reformer, mat pilates and barre classes in terms of exercise physiology if you’re interested in giving it a go.

Healing Practices – a new exhibition which explores contemporary art’s relationship to the compensatory and copying mechanisms borne in response to trauma also opens at the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre on 7 March and runs until 5 May. Perhaps a good one for us all in terms of examining our attitudes towards mental health and self-care.

A couple of other local events to mention too today. If you’ve got a toddler in the house then the Banyule Kindergarten Open Day is on tomorrow. Mr Rosanna and I were never thinking that far ahead before we moved to the area but some people have already decided on high school and want their children to go to the feeder kinder to the feeder primary school that then feeds into their chosen secondary school. At any rate, it’s a good exercise in finding out what’s closest or most convenient for you and if you can walk there or avoid going down major roads, that’s always a bonus.

IMG_9263

At the other end of the spectrum if you have a classic car lover in your circle Springthorpe’s 6th Annual Classic Car Show is being held on Saturday 10 March at the Village Common in Macleod. I’ve always loved the look of vintage Volkswagen Karmann-Ghias although I think it would be handy to have the inner mechanic in you if you ever bought a vintage car.

 

 

Summer lovin’

Well we all got there in the end. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring all that you wish for and more. It’s not even 2019 yet but the year has already rung in changes for me and for other people including my sponsor Hunter Lane Cafe in Rosanna. After two years, Dani and Dennis Ahimastos have decided to hang up the apron (!) and have sold their business to new owners who will be taking over from 8 January. I was in there for my own farewell lunch last week not realising it was also farewell for them. The business will continue as Hunter Lane Cafe and staff will also be staying on so I hope those of you who are local will continue to support them.

IMG_8951

I also managed to drop into my other sponsor’s house party the other week – Nikki Ellis from Cinch Training – who has also had change with her business moving to a new location this year. It was lovely to celebrate with Nikki in her beautiful home full of beautiful things (she’s a woman after my own heart as a fellow antiques lover with a great eye) along with a number of her other closest clients who are also friends. I feel very lucky to know her and be included in that select group of people.

IMG_8952

I’ve had a massive week of ending including my own Hawaii-an themed Divisional Christmas party at the Thornbury Bowls Club which was heaps of fun! I was surprisingly better at bowls than I thought – hitting the jack on my second try but regardless, it was just a great way to say goodbye to Marketing and Recruitment at La Trobe. While I have previously been invited to lawn balls (and to trugo – another Victorian-era lawn game) – it was the first time I’d ever played. I particularly loved the group of old timers at the front bar I said g’day to who looked like characters out of the movie Crackerjack!

IMG_8950

I have realised this Christmas that there is much to be grateful for and I’m looking forward to an even bigger, better and brighter New Year in 2019. I would say bolder as well even though I am departing from the Bold Thinking Series and I did want to leave you with some summer listening. My very last task was to create a video of highlight speakers to be used for the Facebook advertising campaign that kicks off on Boxing Day – I hope you enjoy it and any of the podcasts that are now available from this year and last – my legacy on the series. With love from Miss Rosanna x.

Memories and experiences

It’s Scott Pape’s take on life after his house burned to the ground in 2014 – that everything is replaceable except for these. What are your best memories of this year? For me, hands down it was our once in a lifetime trip to Greece. If I never travel overseas again, that experience was unforgettable and memorable for all the right reasons.

DSC_4117 (1)
Me at The Acropolis – June 2018

Life is an experience and about taking risks as we get older – something we become more averse to but with that in mind – both Mr Rosanna and I have resigned from our jobs in the past fortnight. He’s started his new job already returning to work for a former boss and I am pleased to say that I will be staying at La Trobe University but moving into the Alumni and Advancement (Fundraising and Philanthropy) Office in the new year working on the Young Alumni (5 years out from graduation) program as a Senior Communications and Engagement Officer. It’s a strategic move for me and although I’ve loved my time on the Bold Thinking Series – it’s time to hand over the baton. Both Mr Rosanna and I are of the same opinion that half a job is the job and the other half is the people you work with and we are at a stage in our lives where we are choosing our bosses – something you can do if you have a big enough network.

Interestingly, Scott Pape is a La Trobe alumnus as is Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow James Fazzino (now a Distinguished Alumnus) who gave a rousing speech to the La Trobe Senior Leadership Group at their retreat held earlier this year. One Head of Campus I work with mentioned it was ‘life-changing’. What did James talk about? At the end of the day, he said that a great leader’s legacy is culture – something people like the Richard Bransons of the world do so well. I am really hoping I have left my current team and position in a great state, that I brought everyone closer together in the time that I was there and that I was a positive and dynamic force in the office. I hope too that I will be missed! I am sad to be leaving some people behind but the best thing is that you always stay in touch if the bond of friendship is strong enough.

End of year fatigue is starting to set in and I am really looking forward to having a break over the Christmas period and to a fresh start and new beginnings in 2019.

Julie and me

Well she came, she spoke and she conquered last night at The Sofitel and I’m so glad she made it to Melbourne.  The Honourable Julie Bishop MP was the keynote speaker at last night’s sold out final Bold Thinking Series event for 2018 and while I had assembled a stellar panel made up of MC Francis Leach, Emeritus Professors Judith Brett and John Carroll and incoming academic Dr Andrea Carson – Ms Bishop’s plane from Sydney was delayed by the dust storm there yesterday and she was the main act.

DC35514_RUSH_IMAGES_02

I came into the office yesterday afternoon feeling relatively calm and under control but that quickly changed when Julie’s media advisor texted me to let me know they were still up north stuck at Sydney airport.  We have a risk management plan for the series but I’ve never had to enact it.  Needless to say there was a flurry of activity, conversations and emails instigated by me and my team to try to determine Plan B: if she was late and Plan C: if she was a no-show and what action we would take.

DC35514_RUSH_IMAGES_06

We were enormously relieved when her media advisor let us know in that critical hour yesterday afternoon that they had actually made it onto the next available plane to Melbourne and our in-house travel agency also confirmed their plane had safely touched down.  Crisis averted but it was a near miss and I was sweating!  I keep saying you need nerves of steel working in events.

DC35514_RUSH_IMAGES_10

It was also action packed once I got to the venue with my team.  Besides meeting and greeting Ms Bishop and the panelists and taking them to their respective green rooms to meet each other and be miked up, there were media in attendance last night including The Age and Channel 9 news as well as our own official photographer Sav Shulman who shot all the accompanying images used in this blog post.  It also took longer to seat everyone in the Arthur Streeton Auditorium which holds 360 people so we ran 10 minutes late.  My highlight was taking the entire entourage with Ms Bishop behind me followed by all the other speakers back of house via The Sofitel kitchen (very James Bond!) to the VIP front row of the packed Auditorium which promptly broke out into applause by the young crowd as Julie entered the room.

DC35514_RUSH_IMAGES_05

She gave a fascinating conversation on western liberal democracy, insights into the Liberal party, the inner machinations of Parliament and its adversarial nature and, of course, women in politics.  You need to be a certain type of person to go into politics – it’s one of the toughest careers there are.  Ms Bishop (‘Call me Julie’) had had two hours sleep and I think rarely gets more than 4 – 5.  She’s smaller than she appears in the media too but also very stylish and glamorous in a classic way – one of my younger colleagues said ‘she’s so beautiful’.  Her eyes are also much bluer than they appear on TV and like many of the people I’ve worked with over the past two and a half years – she has an X factor – charisma that some people naturally have and that other people are drawn to.  Ms Bishop also has quite a regal, if not imperious, bearing so while I’m not usually nervous meeting people – I was understandably more hesitant when I met her.  She was mobbed when she left the venue last night and I’m also glad we’d organised security for her to escort her back to her hotel before she flew out this morning.

I feel very relieved today – it’s given me a sense of closure to have held my last event for the year, and such an amazing one at that, and actually turn my head to Christmas and to next year.  The Bold Thinking Series will be continuing so more adventures lie ahead for me.  Have a wonderful weekend.

 

 

Lucky

Do you make your own luck or is it something that just happens?  All I know is that while bad things happen to good people, a lot more good things happen to good people and that most people in the world are good as I tell my children.

I had a colleague who attended the recent La Trobe PG Expo with speaker Todd Sampson and her take out regarding his advice was that we apparently grow more arrogant and inflexible as we get older.  All the more important I think to stay flexible (and active) in mind and body, to stay humble (and grateful) and to stay brave.  We can lose courage as we grow older and grow more fearful but I think that’s the challenge of life and the journey that life itself presents.

Lucky is the name of the exhibition that opens at Bundoora Homestead tomorrow that explores the history and effects of gold mining and the pursuit of wealth in Australia interrogating the Australian dream of finding a better life – a fair go – in the context of cultural, racial and political inequalities.  It sounds absolutely fascinating and given that my ancestors came here in the time of the gold rush, a very relevant one for Asian Australians.

Julie Bishop Event Hero Image v2

Speaking of political, my lecture with the Honourable Julie Bishop MP is now completely sold out but you will be able to watch the livestream.  I am looking forward to meeting her next week and hearing what she has to say, particularly her personal reflections on leadership, lessons learnt and being a female politician.  She held nothing back in her recent talk at a Future Women event where she said, ‘If you’re trying to be a man, it’s a waste of a woman’.  Strong words indeed…

Creepy and kooky

Yes, it’s Halloween this Wednesday night and there are a number of local events taking place including the two sold out events Trick or Treat on Were(wolf) Street in Montmorency and HallowSCREAM at Montsalvat in Eltham (get in early next year people!) plus Watsyvania Halloween in Watsonia let alone the many local neighbourhood streets that take part in the annual celebration of all things scary.  My two children are nothing if not inventive creating both zombie and witch doctor costumes (below) last Halloween crafted from other bits and pieces we had in our costume box.

IMG_6456

As for me, I’m now gearing up for my last Bold Thinking Series lecture for the year on 22 November at The Sofitel featuring former Australian Deputy Leader and Foreign Minister – the Hon Julie Bishop MP (some think she should have been PM) and have also been dealing with her office the past couple of months.  La Trobe (and other Universities) sometimes gets accused of being very left-wing so it’s great to have some people on the right involved in this one including Emeritus Professors Judith Brett and John Carroll as well as incoming academic Andrea Carson.  I will be very interested to hear Ms Bishop’s reflections on life, leadership and lessons learnt.

Until then, there’s lots going on although I was a bit incredulous over the weekend walking into both Bunnings Northland and Leo’s in Heidelberg who’ve already brought out their Christmas food and decorations!  It’s a bit premature when we’ve not even had Melbourne Cup week but I think it also reflects the current state of Australian retail, which is still doing it pretty hard.  I’ve already started buying early Christmas presents and will be buying local wherever possible.