25 August 2016

We are surrounded

Seen today (5.15pm at top of South Pine Road, Everton Park) on a bumper sticker: 

"If you're not behind our troops feel free to stand in front of them". A nasty and violent sentiment wrapped up as flag-waving patriotism.

(The sticker had the same look as the "If you don't love it leave" version) 

Just because we're vigilant doesn't mean we see things that aren't there. 

#austracism 

09 August 2016

A week of breakfasts

Last week I spoke at two breakfasts. The first was for the Wilston Grange Business Community's annual Year 11 Leadership Breakfast, and the other was for the annual Small Business Connections Everton Park Business Breakfast hosted by Everton Park State High School.

At the WGBC's event, our MC and organiser Paul Hudson, asked us to address the question:

What is leadership and what does it mean to me? 

I don't think I directly addressed the question, but I hope that I gave some value. Here's what I said:
Good morning. I would like to begin by first acknowledging that we are on Aboriginal land. Here in this place we are on the land of the Turrubal and Jagera.  
I acknowledge the unceded sovereignty of Aboriginal communities here in Brisbane and across the continent. And I acknowledge Aboriginal peoples in the room.  
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you all this morning. When I’m working with emerging business owners I often say to them to take every opportunity you can to talk about you business and how you go about it.  
Most business owners I know however are very hesitant to do so. If you’re a really great maker or creator, you’re more likely to want to just focus on making and creating. Not talking. However like writing and teaching, the act of planning a speech gives you an opportunity to engage with your work. You’re forced to think about why and how you work. You see taking pause, having a break, stepping outside of the job, allows you an opportunity to articulate your reason for being.  
 When I created Deadly Bloggers, I just went about the business of building the first directory of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bloggers. I was passionate about it. I built it one step at a time with little forward thinking and no strategy. I didn’t make any money from it, really I still haven’t. But I knew in my gut that it was a good idea. It wasn’t until later, much later that I came to understand why I was doing it. And it was through writing and speaking about Deadly Bloggers at conferences and lectures that I came to understand its importance, and to articulate it. For me, Deadly Bloggers is about supporting the writing and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a country that routinely ignores us. 
As emerging leaders in a variety of fields and endeavours, many of you may not know yet why you’re going down a particular route or a particular path. You know in your gut that it’s the right thing to do, or the right thing for you, but you can’t necessarily say why. I would encourage each of you to consider taking up writing as a way to develop your understanding of your own practice in whatever field that may be. Now, as I’m a passionate advocate of digital media and the opportunities that it can bring, I thoroughly encourage you to use blogging as a means of documenting your journey.  
Now you don’t have to just write words when you’re ‘writing’. A piece of ‘text’, can be a video-blog, an audio post, or an image post, a series of images like a photographic essay. Don’t think that you’re just constrained to writing ‘words’, sentences and paragraphs. As you get ready to head off into the world, image documenting that journey along the way.
Documenting the twists and turns that you will take over the next 8 or maybe even 9 decades of your life. Imagine the archive that you would leave - an archive that documented the journey of a leader. Many of us, probably most of us, conflate leadership and authority. 
There are positions of authority - positions that by their very nature command authority and power - I’m thinking here Prime Ministers, Judges, CEOs of large companies etc. And of course, the people are leaders, they’re definitely leaders. But leadership is much bigger than that, much broader than that.  
Leaders are in every facet of our world - there are people who are leaders in their fields of research, people who do their jobs well in all industries, who have the most knowledge, who commit more than the rest. They’re teachers, nurses, GPs, lawyers, gardeners, artists, musicians. Most leaders in our community aren’t known, they won’t appear in the National Biography, but they’re leaders nonetheless.  
Documenting the journey of these types of leaders is more important than ever. The world that you will grow into is very different from the one that I grew up in. Less jobs due to increased automation, increased globalisation. Now, more than ever, we need leaders in every part of the world and across all industries, at all levels who, through reason and thought, can guide their communities through the changes that will come. Writing and documenting the journey of your leadership will provide an archive that generations after you will be able to learn from. 
 Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you today. It’s given me an chance to think about what leadership means and a chance to be present to why I do the work that I do. I wish you all the best of luck. Thank you.



On Friday I introduced the guest speaker to the Everton Park event, Ms Carol Vale. I know Carol as she is also a graduate of the Murra Indigenous Business Masterclass at Melbourne Business School. She's also a 'north-sider'

Good morning. I would like to begin by first acknowledging that we are on Aboriginal land. Here in this place we are on the land of the Turrubal and Jagera. I acknowledge the unceded sovereignty of Aboriginal communities here in Brisbane and across the continent. And I acknowledge Aboriginal peoples in the room. 
When choosing a keynote speaker for this year’s breakfast there are any number of topics or themes I could have chosen. However, one morning at my desk, I noticed the cover of the latest edition of Harvard Business Review asks the question Why Diversity Programs Fail?  
The article pointed to many different reasons why programs in corporations of different sizes fail. In Australia, diversity has been given some attention in the public sector in recent decades, but only recently has the private sector begun to take notice of the importance of using diverse suppliers and diverse employees. 
Our guest speaker today, Ms Carol Vale has been working with employeers and employees to create programs that both increase and sustain diversity within the workplace. Carol Vale is a Dhunghutti woman from NSW and brings to her work, personal and professional insights into working effectively with the complexities of Aboriginal people and communities. Carol draws on her experience to enable participation in conversations that lead to change. She is committed to facilitating opportunities for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to come together to tackle the tough issues confronting Indigenous people in all communities. 
In 2013 Carol co-founded Murawin Pty Ltd and is the company’s Managing Director and Principal Consultant. She continues to working across the breadth of Aboriginal affairs with a key focus on working with others to enhance leadership and management capabilities and cultural competencies.
Carol has a Bachelor of Arts, a Masters of Indigenous Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Public Sector Leadership, a Diploma of Counselling, and will be Doctoral Candidate in 2017 in leadership and public policy. Carol is a faculty member of the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales. She also completed the Sydney Leadership Program in 2012 and the Murra Indigenous Business Master Class Program through the Melbourne Business School-University of Melbourne in 2014.
I have to say, I'm completely inspired by Carol's work and her achievements. It's definitely got me thinking about returning to further study next year.

08 August 2016

Work-Life/Office-Home

Yes. My first life-drawing class. What on earth am I doing here?
So this weekend was interesting.

We spent most of Saturday (time out for me in the afternoon taking Ms15 to her life-drawing class - reinforced how much I can't draw), Saturday night and all day Sunday, re-arranging the office space. Today (Monday) sees the office still in a shambles, but it gradually taking on a new configuration.

Our house was built in the 1950s and is virtually unchanged since then (but no, it's not a retro-hipsters dream by any stretch. It's more your run-down-can-just-afford-to-pay-the-mortgage-chic). It's three bedrooms upstairs, and was always designed to be a single story, but the 'old guy' who used to own the house dug out underneath and created an unofficial ground floor (the neighbours say it took him months which doesn't surprised me). Our ground floor is wrapped in lovely a lovely grey/white fibro paneling and the floor is partially sealed concrete of various levels and heights. It's not flash, but it's our home/office.

Over the past twenty years of our occupancy, we've had probably ten or so different home/office configurations. When the kids were little, they took up more space - legos EVERYWHERE! - but as they've gotten older, they're much less the space hogs than in their youth. It's interesting to think about how our lifestyle has changed over the years.

In this re-fit, we've removed all our 'personal' stuff from one part of the space to make way for a rows and rows of old computers and a serious workbench. With our business gently easing into the hardware game, Mr21 needed more space to do serious projects.

We've also made three more specific work-stations. One for Mr19 who is currently engaged in writing a blockbuster. The serious writer must have his own space.

The weekend ended with us feeling tired but productive after a complete re-fit, including new desks, 1 trip to the dump and 1 trip to the LifeLife bin.

Am looking forward to filling out this space and making it a hive of productivity.

02 August 2016

Mid-Walk Metaphors-Keeping us all together.


The scene
Today we did a lunchtime walk. It's 4-ish kilometre route. I took my daughter who, while used to walking that distance to and from school, generally does it in what I might can best be described as leisurely (and usually in leather school shoes). She doesn't do sport or anything exercise-y. However, when I'm doing this walk, it's for exercise - to get the heart rate going - not to look at the view. So once we headed out, she was definitely lagging behind me.

How to keep pace
To get Ms15 walking beside me and not behind me, I called her to me and said come on, walk with my steps, match my steps. Let's pretend we're marching. Now that she was focused on 'keeping time', I was gently about to increase our pace without her really noticing it too much. When I needed to slow down, I could ease back, and she eased right along with me.

What does it mean?
As we were walking along together, I wondered if this wasn't a metaphor for society. Perhaps for the bulk of humans, we're happy to keep in step. As a group we move gently into new directions (I'm thinking about language, race relations, and gender discrimination). If we move too fast, there's chaos and backlash.

I know it sounds corny - but what if the core component of human society is about critical mass or working as a group. There are always those who will keep their own time - they're the artists, or the renegades. What if, as humans, the bulk of the us, the critical mass in the middle, remain within it. It would explain general apathy as well as atrocities.

I should probably get my hands on some Orwell. 

If I'm completely on the wrong track, here's some lovely Brisbane purple to make up for it ... 





01 August 2016

Abuse, oppression and Royal Commissions



Like millions of other Australians I watch the Four Corners episode and was disgusted. That night I wrote - 

"This is what you get when you have a complete lack of transparency and zero accountability (how is that the Minister has not resigned already?), ongoing entrenched systemic racism, a total failed to implement the findings of rbr RCADIC from 25 years ago, combine with a racist, hyper-masculinity at the coal-face."

Since then of course the Prime Minieree appointed a Royal Commissioner who has since stepped down, another has been appointed, along with an associate Commissioner Mick Gooda. 

It's my belief that we don't need a Royal Commisson - it's a good way to keep people quiet while at the same time do nothing meaningful. And unless it's going to actually look at the criminal justice system to one that is not solely about punishment and retribution, then it's a waste of time and money. 

04 July 2016

Happy BLACK HISTORY MONTH and AND NAIDOC Week


It's a big week - NAIDOC - as I have a Business Breekfast on Wednesday, possibly a Gala Dinner on Thursday, and then up early at Musgrave Park all day Friday. 

Sorry for the short post, but I gotta get up and finish off a bunch of work (and marking!!) 

03 July 2016

2nd July 2016


We go to bed not knowing who our Prime Minister will be this time tomorrow. We do however know that history was made today with the election of Linda Burney as the member for Barton. She becomes the first Aboriginal woman in the House of Representatives. 

Like Neville Bonner, Ken Wyatt, and Nova Peris, as well men and women from the states and territories, including our own Leeanne Enoch, Linda Burney makes history today. 

I've written in the past about the difficulty facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elected officials. In a country not known for its positive and meaningful response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, means being Aboriginal in parliament is always tricky. Are you your party? Your electorate? Your family or mob? 

I wish Linda all the best with her journey in parliament. I hope she gets some much needed rest in the coming days before being sworn in and the whole Canberra adventure begins. 

28 June 2016

Two nights in Sydney


I've been to Kings Cross once or twice. I was kinda disappointed because I grew up thinking it was a 'square' ala King George Square in Brisbane. After spending two nights here, I'm still not sure where the cross actually is. Apparently it's a street (I think?) or maybe it's a suburb? 

When I come to Sydney - always for work (this time for Viscopy) - I'm mostly found in the Dulwich Hill / Marrickville area, which I LOVE. But I have to say I don't mind Kings Cross / Woolloomooloo. I certainly couldn't afford to live here, but ooh I like it. 


We arrived Monday for Vernon to speak at the NAVA Let's Talk Futures Town Hall gathering (I tagged along as I had a Viscopy meeting today). The gathering was to discuss the systemic raiding of arts infrastructure in Australia, as well as actions we can take for the election on Saturday.


I was inspired enough from that evening to volunteer for the Arts Party on Saturday. I'll let you know how I go. 


We're staying at Regent's Court here on Springfield Avenue at Potts Point. It's a lovely little hotel. It's got some wonderful qualities though it's a little oddly run, leading me to consider leaving a Trip Advisor review. You certainly can't beat the Garden Rooftop and the view. I'd definitely stay here again. 

I love visiting Sydney, and am determined to gradually expand my experiences a little with each visit. 

What's your favourite Sydney spot? 






09 June 2016

Thinking about Indigenous Design (Queensland Design Summit)


Today I'm speaking at the Queensland Design Summit at QUT. Wearing my SEQICC hat, I'm interested in exploring further, the way in which design thinking can stimulate Indigenous businesses participation in the economy.  

One of the other questions I'm interested in is, is there an Indigenous design methodology? Is there a way that design is conducted by Murri people that is different from White Australia? My initial response is that it is quite possible that a methodology exists but we're not at a point where we can articulate it in an explicit sense. The number of Mob working (I'm thinking here of graphic design, interior, architecture, urban design etc) in design is quite small, and the number of those folks engaged in the academy (or more importantly in the area of comment and critique) is even smaller. 

There is big picture work being done however in the Indigenous architecture space. Separately both Kevin O'Brien and Linda Kennedy continue to ask important questions around practice. 

With so much buzz around innovation, startups and big ideas!! I'm always reminded that the Australian playing field is not equal. The gaps in all the social indicators are too wide, and in some cases getting wider. 

It's imperative that for all our work in this area, we remind ourselves that the focus also has to be in making sure that all our people have the opportunity to play in the space. If not this generation then the next. 

06 June 2016

The Not Quite Cooked Digital Champion: What a mad ride!


What is a cure for overwhelm and stress? One cure is drop everything, quit your responsibility, just stop and walk away. Another option is to pull in the reins, take one step at a time, one foot after the other. A third option is to be asked to step up even further, to be called-to-action, and to be reminded of the long game. 

I've done the first only a few times, the second is more my style and is what I'm used to. Taking deep breaths along the way. And the third comes along occasionally. It's what I experienced this morning. 

A month or so ago I was approached by Michelle Hollywood from InfoExchange, the social enterprise, about the Year of Digital Inclusion and the Digital Champions programme. In addition to finally working out what 'Advance Queensland' was all about, we had a good yarn and she told me about the amazing work of InfoExchange. She was interested in the work I was doing, I particular with the SEQICC, and spoke about the various projects I'd done in a digital space - Deadly Bloggers, WhichWay for Social Media, as well as the informal work I do every day in helping folks with digital tools. She suggested I would be a candidate as a Champion. Skeptical, I approached the SEQICC to nominate me, a few weeks later my application was accepted. 

However, it's not that simple is it. Not in my head it isn't. Over the past two weeks I've had the worst bout of Imposter Syndrome. It's been energy sapping, mind-bending even. It's impacted on my productivity so incredibly over the past fortnight that it's going to take me a month to catch up. My imposter syndrome looks a bit like: What if you all find out about me? And you finally realise I have no friggin idea what the hell I'm doing? 

In this past month, I've been nominated as a Digital Champion, been invited to sit on two conference panels and  asked to be a referee for a Promotion round for a Senior Academic at a university because I'm 'a leader in the field'. Are you all f--king kidding me? I know this reads like a really crap humble brag, but it's not. I'm serious. Two nights ago, I'm standing in my kitchen, balling my eyes out. "What the f--k am I doing? They're all going to find out I don't know anythjng. I didn't ask for this!!! Why can't I say no!?!?!?" (It wasn't a pretty sight I can tell you) 

Finally after two weeks of panic, I feel like my head is clearing today. And it's been helped from a couple of things. 

The first was a tweet by Anil Dash two days ago:


The moment I read it, it punched me in the gut. I had a physical reaction to it. What if? What if I could really love myself - ALL of me?  What if I could own the fact that I have no idea most of the time? And 'own it' not just on my 'good' days? I think part of my strength is that I never profess to know the answers. I'm rarely 100% sure of anything. I'm always asking questions, always trying to fit the puzzle together. 

The second thing that's helped to clear my head happened this morning. Minister Leeanne Enoch called us - the Round 3 Digital Champions - to action. She asked for our help - help to do our bit -  that we're working to try to ensure that all Queenslanders have access to digital tools and have digital literacy skills. Helen Milner from the Tinder Foundation provided us with detailed evidence about what digital literacy can bring individuals and communities, and how the costs of providing these support structures are far outweighed by the economic and social benefits that it brings. 

I was/am inspired to get out of my head and get into action. So much of the work I do fits into this bigger vision, it's just that it's not clear nor delivered strategically. 

So I'm putting the Imposter Syndrome in the cupboard for now (it will be back later I'm sure), and I'm announcing that I've got plans for at least three Digital Inclusion activities before the end of the year. One major event in October for Indigenous Business Month, and two minor events on either side. 

I know I haven't cured my overwhelm and stress by adding extra commitments to my calendar. But I have no time to let that self-doubt in right now. It's to put my skills to the test. 

I have to be here for something bigger than me.
 


23 May 2016

So is 47 mid- or late- forties?


I was scrolling through old posts this morning, and noticed that in one from last month I referred to myself as mid-forties. 

Last month I was 46, and this month I'm 47. So it's just occurred to me as I eat my decidedly unglamorous but definitely cholesterol lowering breakie, that maybe I'm now technically "late-40s". 

Oh crap. 

And if my primary school 'rounding-up/down' mathematics hasn't completely  left me, I've been late-forties for over twelve months? 

Bloody hell. 

Staying focused in the un-routine


Am up earlier than normal this morning, now with two little people in the kitchen watching cartoons on my iPad. Cartoons have changed a lot since my four were that age. I guess every generation has their favourites. 

The week and month ahead are looking just as busy as last month was. It's busy just with work, but now I have essay marking on top of that so I've added another layer of work to my normal day. I knew this was coming so while it's no surprise, I'm daunted by it. 

Today will be a day of refocus - creating a master list of writing and thinking work - giving my brain and day time to mark, as well as to prepare a few marketing and communication strategies. This morning it feels like I'm standing at the start of the race, getting ready to run a long marathon. 

As I posted yesterday, I deleted the Facebook app off my phone. Facebook, and it's mind-numbing Tasty, cat, and puppy videos as well as insightful articles my good friends post, are an excellent distraction throughout the day. Especially when you work alone, sometimes social media channels feels like you're talking to your colleague in the next cubicle in between tasks. To others I probably look like I'm Facebook a lot - what on earth does she do all day? - when really I just pop my head in for a minute at a time. However, Facebook on my phone can tend to eat more hours than I'd like. Hence the deletion.  

My other goal this week is to add some physical activity to the day (I was about to add to "my daily routine", but I don't feel like I have a routine. Maybe it's an un-routine?). I have no exercise routine at all. And at the age of 47 that's completely unacceptable. 

Anyway, here's to a big week - a trip to Sydney, 120 assignments to mark, sundry client work in between, family appointments, and on-the-business commitments. I am working hard this week centring my brain to limit the debilitating sense of overwhelm I often get. Small steps Leesa. One job at a time. 

And thanks to these two little blokes for getting me up earlier to see the rising sun. 

20 May 2016

My number 7 tip to help you blog more ...


My Tip: Delete the Facebook app off your phone. 

I know blogging should be more about quality than quantity. That's completely true. But sometimes, for me, the quality improves the more I do it. It becomes a habit again. 

Notice April? I posted nine times in April - when I had deleted the Facebook app off my phone. When I put it back on in May, see how many I have? Until this post, 2 in almost one month! To be a truly valid study, I'd need a number of subjects and do some kind of longitudinal study. But that's not going to happen. So I'm using my two month sample as my evidence. 

So I'm going to delete the app of my phone again so that I only look at Facebook when I'm at my desk. Let's see if I can get my blogging mojo back.  

Hanging with Indigenous Business in Townsville


This week I was invited to hang out with the Townsville and Region Indigenous Business Network (TRIBN) at their first networking event for 2016. 

Of course, as always I forgot that May in Townsville and May in Brisbane are completely different. So I ended up wearing one layer too many (note to self: ditch the all black when you head north Leesa!). Thankfully the venue - the Crown on Palmer - had just enough of a gentle breeze to keep me going. 

I met some wonderful business people include Alannah who runs a cosmetic franchise business, Dawn who has made the leep into the cultural awareness space, Sam, a fantastic MC who travels the nation doing motivational speaking, and many more. 

I was one of four speakers. The others included representatives from Qld State Development, IBA, and TAFE North. 

With Sam's facilitation I was able to share  my business journey story, including how I got started, some of the the challenges and a few words of caution for the newbies, as well as a few marketing tips (what's your 'story', who is your market, and where do they hang out). 

I hope I was able to make a contribution to folks and their own business journey. 

This week is Small Business Week in Queensland. Ensuring that Indigenous business networks have a voice during these events is fundamental. Thanks to the Qld Govt for supporting this event. 

Thanks TRIBN. Love your weather Townsville. Hope to catch up again soon. 

But for now back to the office. 

01 May 2016

In Flight Mode. Indigenous business supplying the nation


One quick post (literally) from the plane at Brisbane airport. I'm on my way to Sydney for Connect 2016 - the annual Supply Nation Trade Show and Awards Event. 

It's important for all of us to talk about Indigenous business and the diversity of industries that people are working in. 

It's still so normal for me to meet Australians for whom the concept of an Indigenous business is completely foreign. Never mind an entire trade every devoted to Indigenous procurement. 

Posting my upcoming trip on Twitter, deadly sistah Dr Sandra Phillips wished me well in "supplying the nation". 

How apt is that "Indigenous businesses supplying the nation"? So true, on so many levels. And definitely not a recent phenomenon. 

It's a bit rainy out there today so am hoping for a smooth ride. 

Gotta go. Flight mode engaged. 

25 April 2016

This week in Sydney and Canberra

Late yesterday afternoon I finally landed back in Brisbane after 8 days away in both Sydney and Canberra. It's so great to be home. I don't think I do 'away from the kids' very well.

Appin Massacre



I turned up early a few days early in Sydney to attend the 200th Anniversary of the Appin Massacre. It was a great turn out - I'm pretty sure there were over 1000 people present.

We also just made it over to Campbelltown Arts Centre for the exhibition With Secrecy and Dispatch. It's an amazing exhibition and should be required attendance by school children across the Sydney region.

Pics from the day are on The Critical Classroom's Facebook Page.

On the Train


On Tuesday evening after the Board meeting I jumped on a train to Canberra. Felt happy that I scored a window seat but then slack that it was actually too dark to get any good pics. Despite that I thoroughly recommend the trip down - very relaxing.

You can book the train via NSW TrainLink, with trains regularly departing from Central Station. Very convenient.

Enjoying Canberra




Canberra was a mix of personal and professional. Had a couple of excellent meetings with clients and got projects moving forwarding. I also spent a few days with my sister and her family. I babysat the kids for a few days - there was a trip to see Zootopia, movie night with The Force Awakens, a trip to Weston Park and a ride on the little train, a trip to Black Mountain and the Telstra Tower and a visit to to Mount Stromlo.

Canberra's an odd place. I enjoy visiting it, but I'm not sure I could ever live there. I've been thinking about why it's so different to what I'm used to. I think it's the lack of familiar green - it's more brown and that dull Eucalypt green rather than the tropical green I grew up with. I've also noticed that the architecture is much more standardised. I'm no architecture expert so I have no idea if it is all the same period but if feels as though Brisbane there is a greater diversity of styles across the city. In Brisbane there is also more colour from advertising and marketing. In Canberra, I wonder if there is a limitation on the amount of commercial signage that buildings are allowed to displayed.

Farewell Sweet Prince
Of course this week is devastating because the world lost Prince. I can't describe what it's like to know that he is no longer with us, but I'm incredibly grateful for the legacy he left. Since his passing I've been getting my Prince fix with videos, posts and music being shared on social media. What did we do before the Internet?

A fire lit for Tiga Bayles this weekend. 


19 April 2016

"It all goes so fast"


Do you wonder how life has gone by so quickly? How all of a sudden you're in your mid-forties, yet you remember the eighties like they were yesterday. 

I hear myself saying "It's all going so fast" more than ever these days. The kids were kids not that long ago and now they're in their late teens/early twenties. I look at old (often pre-digital) photos and sigh. I also remember when I thought 40 was SO OLD. Now, I'm thinking well 80 is pretty old isn't it? 

Tomight I'm on the train from Sydney to Canberra tonight, and I've just been yarning with a fellow passenger. She too, can't believe how fast it's all gone. A great-grandmother, with a husband with Dementia, she understands the value of every precious day. 

As we waited for our train to depart we shared the tales of our lives - the navigating family demands while still fitting in time to do "what we want". I think for most people - life is about the juggling act. 

We're all busy navigating work demands, schools awards ceremonies, family doctor appointments, extended family weddings and birthday parties. Plus there's the other stuff like volunteering - meetings, sausage sizzles and cake stalls, as well as our activism. 

Life isn't "out there", it's here and now. It's ordinary. And that's okay. 

Choosing Indigenous Education Resources - a work-in-progress.

Choosing Indigenous Education Resources for the Classroom

This week I popped in on a sistah's lecture for pre-service teachers. The end result is a quick post for the Critical Classroom on Choosing Indigenous Education Resources for the Classroom.

It's a work-in-progress post and is framed around ideas that we started thinking about around 15 years ago. I really want to continue writing this list up. Of course, it's not a cut-and-dry or black-and-white list - it's not a case of if it doesn't tick the criteria don't use it. But rather they're guidelines that one can use to assess the worth of a resource. They're more like questions to consider.

I'm looking forward to getting into this post a bit more and developing it further in coming months.

13 April 2016

Growing an ecosystem requires leadership with depth

Indigenous Business in South East Queensland with the SEQICC and Minister for Small Business Leeanne Enoch.

It's the most satisfying feeling, when talking with a leader they understand exactly where you're coming from and what your issues are. There's no having to defend yourself, to over-explain, just state the issues and you move forward and talk big picture.

Well today, as part of a delegation from the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, I met with Queensland's Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business, the Honourable Leeanne Enoch, and that's exactly what we got. 

Leeanne is a Quandamooka woman, raised in Logan. Her life and work is based here, in this place. Her work was with community. I've always remembered her as a staunch community and family focused person. And today, as a Minister, you can tell where she has come from. And it's good. 

It was a breath of fresh air, knowing that the person that you're talking to has knowledge and depth. 

I'm optimistic about what can be achieved for Indigenous business in Queensland now and into the future. As I've said many times before, being in business is bloody hard work with no guaranteed pay-offs. But I'm more hopeful now than I have been in a long time. 

I'm committed to working with the SEQICC for the foreseeable future, working to develop a state-wide representation. 

There's still so much to be done building and nurturing the Indigenous Business EcoSystem. And with Minister Enoch at the helm, anything is possible. 

11 April 2016

Giving the machine part of me



So after that mini-flurry of blog posts last week - honestly I think I was procrasti-blogging - anyone would think I was turning this space into a fatshion space. Nah. I don't have the capacity or will power to take pics of the clothes I'm wearing every day. I was so happy to have written those posts though. I feel like I've moved a mini-mountain for myself. Of course they're nothing compared to others, but for me it was a big deal. 

I spent my day neck deep in teaching and project management. That's my life these days. With the client list gradually growing, my ability to keep on track of projects is vital. I'm not sure I've nailed it yet though.

Today I remembered two tasks I was to complete for a client. The worst thing? I remembered them. What should have happened was that they should have been in our management tool with an alarm beside it. 

I'm very lucky there. But it reminded me that I can't let my brain to all that memory work. Those tasks need to be documented. I need to give the machine part of me - it can have those memories. But to do that I need to be consistent and disciplined. Something that definitely doesn't come naturally. 

Tomorrow is a full day of meetings. I'm looking forward to getting out of the office, albeit for one day. 

Onward and upward. 

08 April 2016

Learning to say I'm fat and not hate myself

20 years old, size 12-14, believed I was fat
The story of the young man who risked everything to travel overseas for massive cosmetic surgery in the hope of making a new life for himself brings into the present the real dangers of the body-image cult that our culture is still part of.

The body image cult is reinforced everyday. From the idiots hanging out the side of cars yell at you when you're walking, the 'motivational' posters in the women's gym saying you too can lose weight if you sign up for this program, to the bombardment of sexist and woman-hating messages in "women's" magazines that body shame celebrities.

But more insidious than these overt body-shaming activities, are the messages we send ourselves and each other every day:

"does my butt look big in this?"
"can I get away with this dress?"
"hiding the problem areas"
"this dress isn't flattering"
"I'm so naughty but I'll have one more piece of chocolate, cake, etc."

All of these images and words build up in our minds the idea that there is a perfect healthy body that we must strive for. When really, a healthy body can look like anything. A size 10 or 12 does not equal health automatically. Indeed there are many unhealthy bodies that 'look' healthy.

The focus on body image (ie. skinny = acceptable) also fails to understand that many people experience illnesses, sometimes visible but more often than not invisible, that prevent them from exercising and moving. Their mobility is limited so looking like you've just walked out of the gym is going to be near impossible. And to someone in that situation, I dare you to judge them to be healthy or not, just by looking at them.

Screenshot of the ABC iView page to the documentary on ABC2 called Plus Sized Wars. Features a plus size model in underwear 
Since discovering body image and HAES writers over the past five years, I've managed to do a lot of positive work on the internalised shame and negativity I have always had about my body.

Despite being almost the largest (apart from when I was about to have baby number 4) I've ever been in my life, I feel better about myself in my forties than I ever did in my twenties and definitely my thirties. I'm bolder (incredibly tame compared to many fatshionistas) in the outfits I'm wearing and way more comfortable in my skin. And it's all because of what's going on in my head.

Accepting that I'm fat - yes, I'm fat - has given me a freedom I've never had before. I move more. I'm more in touch with what I eat. I'm proactive in working with my doctor and therapist, something I could never have done two decades ago while filled with shame and embarrassment. Of course, I still have my bad days (sometimes bad weeks) when I feel like I'm useless and disgusting and an embarrassment.

If you've never heard this type of talk before, you're probably a little freaked out.

Are you thinking: OMG, why are you saying your fat? Well I am fat. It's a fact. The difference is I'm acknowledging I'm fat but not making it mean that I'm a bad person, or lazy  or that I'm in some way broken, or not good enough, or that I should be fixing myself.

And no before you ask it nor does it mean that I'm off saying 'see ya, I'm fat so I'm off to eat as much KFC as I want'. But if I do decide to have KFC it's really no one else's business.

What it means is that I refuse to subscribe to the belief that making someone feel crap about their body is going to help them become a healthier person.

I mess up all the time - I judge myself, I judge others. But learning to call myself fat and not hate myself while doing it is the first step in freeing myself from the shackles.

A bit about the images in this post:

The top image is of me in 1992. I was a size 10-12, and I honestly believed I was fat and thought I was gross and disgusting. My body was an embarrassment. It didn't stop me from becoming the size 24 I am now. Now I am fat, and I love myself. Let's see where this takes me.

The bottom image is of a plus sized model Tess Holliday. She featured in a show called Plus Size Wars. It's about the Plus Size fashion industry. It was on ABC2 and was really interesting and I thought dealt with the topic in a really positive way. People assume that by accepting all sizes, that it's about promoting bad health. It's not. It's about saying I'm this size and I want to look good. Accepting Plus Size (and the diversity of body shapes) means that everyone gets to dress up a bit and feel good about themselves if they choose to.









07 April 2016

Being ridiculous on Snapchat

I know I'm in my mid-forties, but for some reason, God only knows why, I find the Snapchat filters hilarious. I've been logging on every 24 hours or so and checking out the new ones, and God help me, posting them to my Snapchat story.

I'm not sure my husband, to whom I send them to at all hours of the day and night fully appreciates the awesomeness that is Snapchat.

I don't care.

It's crazy, and it's fun. You only get one go at this, and we should all have time to have a good laugh if you can.

If you want to see something truly ridiculous though, the inner exhibitionist in me couldn't resist posting this  4 second video.

Oh, and find me on Snapchat. I am leesawatego. Of course!

06 April 2016

Pour myself a cup of ambition



After leaving my local business club event this morning, on the drive home, Dolly Parton's 9-5 came on the radio. Thanks 4KQ!

I pumped up the radio and Dolly sang out "tumble out of bed / stumble to the kitchen / pour myself a cup of ambition". Thank goodness I was driving along at a decent speed, what I must have sounded and looked like?!?

I've been working recently on affirmations, and this line just resonated with me. I can't quite remember the movie (three working class gals get just revenge on their super-sexist boss?) and I've always been more of a Working Girl tragic "they're not even leather", but for me "pour myself a cup of ambition" says you write your story / you generate you / you can be what you want.

I'm not sure I'm naturally ambitious enough to be super successful. I think ambition is something I have to work hard to generate. If you ask me for help, I'll give it easily. Do I knock on doors and look for opportunities? Not so much.

I've often said I was raised to be a cleaner (like my mum), and there's nothing wrong with that. But being happy to settle for what I've got can make it difficult to make ends meet.

This combined with a propensity to over deliver (and under charge) in project management, makes it all a very expensive exercise.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining at all. I'm feeling quite optimistic. In fact I'm pouring cups of ambition all over the place this year. I'm taking risks, and learning to form new habits. 

We do good work. I'm sure of that. I just need to make sure I'm focused and strong enough to make sure that I don't lower my expectations. Actually, maybe ambition isn't the only thing I need to work on? Perhaps it's also knowing your worth. 

Hmmm. Something to think about there. 

In the meantime, I'm going to keep on listening to the awesome 80s business fight songs (Eye of the Tiger anyone?)

Do you have a theme song? What gets your pumped? 

My first #fatshion post

Fair skin, fat, mid-forties woman, brown hair, black glasses, in an elevator, taking a selfie. Wearing all black (figure hugging top and pencil skirt) with a "red claret" blazer. Large cream coloured wooden disk necklace.  

Today I posted my first EVER elevator selfie and my first #ootd on Instagram.

I devour fatshion blogs and these posts are the staple (not necessarily in elevators though, just the outfit pics) with women in all shapes, sizes and colours rocking wonderfully colourful, "rule" defying outfits.

Want a fashion body? Have a body and put fashion on it.

I love them so much for sending a middle-finger to world. And after five-odd years of reading I finally managed to do it myself.

I just wish fatshion bloggers had been around when I was a teenager and in my twenties. Christ. I'm sure I would have loved myself a whole lot more. But here I am a fat, mid-forties, mother and business owner, posting selfies and fatshion posts. And it's not weird. God I love the Internet.

Will this be my first and only #ootd? Maybe. If so, I did it and who gives a fuck what it looks like. If not, woot! Here's to many more. 

Outfit details:

"Drapey" Jacket from CityChic
Basic Tee: Autograph Essentials
Ponte Panel Skirt: Autograph
Black Sandals from Williams (2015)
Wood disc necklace: Autograph

The story of the jacket: I'd done a wardrobe audit over Christmas with my sister who knows about these things. The objective - easy business attire for a range of occasions. We decided that I nail the black pencil skirt (totally) and shortish jacket (remind me to post about my Julia Gillard jacket). Anyway, last Friday, BlondeInk posted about the CityChic blazer.

So the very next morning, Sister & I were headed to Chermide and I picked up two! I'm so happy. The jacket fits perfectly to my shape, coming in at the waist. And the sleeves are sheer and they're so light that you can even wear them in Brisbane!! BONUS.

For the next few months don't be surprised to see me rocking all black with a splash of colour.

#ootd = outfit of the day

(Posting on the Blogger phone app. Will add hyperlinks when I can)

08 March 2016

Prayers

Going to sleep tonight, listening to the strong rain, thinking of that little one from WA.

In what kind of world does that happen? 

The world is not okay. 


05 February 2016

Downs and Ups

A green field to the left, and old fence, trees in the distance. To the right, a concrete path

Today was the first day in a long time (feels like nearly a month) when I've wanted to get out of bed. The deadlines and workload that have haunted me are still there, the stresses are still there, but my body and mind are lighter today. 

I've always had a cycle - periods of massive energy bursts followed by sustained lows. I cope, but it makes it difficult to maintain a routine. Successful lives need routines that include exercise, eating well, plenty of sleep, attending to the maintenance of things. I do not do any of this well. 

I sometimes wonder what impact my ups and downs have had on my kids. I know it has. Sometimes that makes me feel sad and regretful. When they're older I imagine we'll talk it all through. On my bad days I wish and dream I was a different person. But I'm not. I'm just me. 

Today I woke up and went for a good walk. I had breakfast and folded clothes. Now I'm have a cup of tea and am at my desk ready for work. Today is a good day. 

14 January 2016

Articulate to execute

A screen shot of a business plan with the Iscariot Media Logo and the words Business Plan

Starting working on Monday and I've spent the first week chasing up urgent client work, but also on some of our foundation documents. 

On Tuesday we had a three hour strategy session with an outside advisor. And what a meeting it was. Tellingly there were MANY questions I couldn't answer or could only partly answer. How can you grow the business when you're not sure what the business even is? 

The second half of the week has been spent working on our big-picture action list - updating our business plan, update the vision statement, developing accurate  and updated position descriptions, creating a workforce plan, and creating a 2 - 5 year marketing plan. 

I have to be able to articulate what our business is, in order to execute strategies to get is where we want to be in the future. 








11 January 2016

Hello 2016


A dark image of lit candles - some in jars, others bare naked flames. 

I was going to blog about something meaningful, but I've stayed up late talking with my sister who is in town for just one more week. Now I'm tired. And tomorrow I'm back to work. So here is a pic of the little arrangement on our back verandah. 

Mum had been hassling me for jars but she didn't say what she wanted them for. Turns out she's coloured them and created the stain-glass window look and has added little fake candles. They look awesome in the dark. I'm going to get her to do more for a party we're having late June in the backyard. 

Ok. Goodnight. Happy New Year. Hope this year brings you love and peace. 

28 December 2015

Revealing the Mountain, the Australian Imaginary

A very dark green mountain in the distance, while in the foreground a field of lighter green sugar cane. 

Earlier this year I attended a Symposium at Carriageworks in Sydney. Ghassan Hage spoke at the event and presented a paper. As part of his presentation, he told a story about a man who was on a journey. The man was moving in the direction of a mountain in the distance. The mountain was so large that it provided him with a sense of direction. Even though he was far away from it, regardless of where he was going, he could always position himself in relation to the mountain. Then one day, the mountain was gone. It had disappeared. No longer could the man tell where he was - he had no place that would centre him, he had no way to navigate this new world. Where before he could always use the mountain to make his way in the world, now he was lost.

The Australian Imaginary is the mountain. Myths like mateship, egalitarianism, fair-go, virtue, all built upon terra nullius and originary violence (Watson), all go into creating this Imaginary. Some of us already know that this Imaginary exists only as fantasy and not reality. Indeed, some of us already know that the Mountain never actually existed. But most Australians do not.

How do they react when their Mountain disappears? Increasingly we see White Australians and their discomfort with Aboriginal people. Upon invasion, White Australia set about erasing Aboriginal people and culture.

Aboriginal culture had to be erased, and continues to be erased and rendered invisible except in those versions of Aboriginality it deems acceptable. The responses to Adam Goodes is a prime example of their discomfort and anger.

When we call out racism and privilege, they hurt. They hurt because their mountain has disappeared and they are lost. It turns out they were on the Holodeck* the whole time. But they're still fighting against that loss. They will not bend, nor will they concede.

Last century James Baldwin, wrote about White America,
"They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.
His words ring true for us here in Australia this century.

For us, the continued work remains in revealing the Mountain, the Australian Imaginary, to be the myth it always was.


Notes:
  • Watson, Irene (2009) What is saved or rescued and at what cost? Cultural Studies Review, Vol 15, No 2. 
  • *Trekkers will get there reference here.  
  • Baldwin, J (1963) The Fire Next Time. 

21 December 2015

Tools downed.


An image taken from the dashboard of a car. The image is looking down the road, nothing ahead in the distance, no cars, just trees on either side. 

More often than not, I fall off the social media landscape when we go on family trips. Partly it's a security thing - if the whole family is away, who is at home? But it's also an environmental thing. You see my family aren't big on social - and that includes the teens. They read and consume stuff, but the don't share about their everyday lives - no selfies, few comments and occasional posts that are rarely about 'I'm doing X today'. When I'm at home, I can justify the selfies and the rest, as being about work. When I'm away from my desk, it's clearly not about work is it? 

Unless I'm really in the zone like last week when we went to the midnight screening of Star Wars & took heaps of images & posted them, when I'm with just the family (and during these moments, they good heartedly put up with me), I'll make very few posts about our travels. And it's okay. I've learned to understand and respect how they do things.  

It always takes me a few days to down tools, but after a while it becomes the new normal.