Tuesday, August 11, 2015

God only knows what I'd be without you .......




Today I caught the Brian Wilson bio pick “Love and Mercy”. Armed with a bag of maltesers, I settled in to my cushy cinema chair to enjoy the wonderful two hour tribute to a life of agony and ecstasy. The world of a supreme genius – the Beethoven of our times, complete with ear deafness issues like the original maestro. From the opening beach scenes to the musical finale, it was a beautiful, and at times incredibly frustrating, experience of the highs and lows of having a creative mind and a gentle soul.

I am no musical virtuoso, and Brian Wilson has more talent in his baby finger than I possess in my whole body, but I was struck by some interesting similarities to myself in the film. I think a truly good film encourages you to identify with the humanity of the story – and “Love and Mercy’ certainly did that.

Without giving away too much, Brian Wilsons life was coloured by some maddeningly controlling and dominating individuals. We’ve all seen people like them…. The passive aggressive, the narcissists, the semi-sociopaths who inflict themselves on the gentle souls who  - through their own lack of life experience or  gentleness of disposition - do not possess the skills to ‘fight back’. People who seek peace, beauty and creativity in the world, railroaded by the self serving, controlling and manipulative. It happens all the time – on a personal level all the way up to a political one. Look at third world countries dominated by patriarchal religions for a global example.

Classic left brained people kept subservient in a right brained world.

But I digress……

Brian Wilson was a man so accustomed to being dominated and controlled from the earliest days of childhood that he (and his brothers) had not developed the skills needed to protect himself. To stand his ground when he needed to. Yet, I wonder if his life had not begun in the pressure cooker of needing to please the unpleasable narcissistic parent, would he have become such a prestigious talent? A creative – absolutely….creativity is a gift – but a complete genius? I guess we may never know…..

Ancient texts oftentimes equate a person’s development to a refining by fire. There are so many fictional and non fictional stories of people with tremendous odds against them – victimised, bullied, outcast or poverty stricken - who become the true successes of our time. The Elvis Presleys (poverty). The Susan Boyles (bullied and outcast). Marilyn Monroes (poverty). Vincent Van Goughs (outcast). Joseph son of Jacob’s (victimised). Stephen Speilbergs (bullied). Kate Winslets (bullied). I wonder if the struggles experienced in their stories refined the ‘gold’ of who they eventually became?

So, I mentioned that Brian Wilson’s story ‘struck a chord’ (pardon the pun) with me. Not so long ago I was told that one of the biggest challenges of my lifetime would be learning to stand up for myself. That my life would be peppered with controlling people and situations that would force me to learn this lesson. And they are so right. My life has been riddled with dominating people and passive aggressives. And I too am like Brian Wilson – in the past I have not possessed the skills to stand up (when required) to people that I hoped to please. People that I longed for approval from, approval I never received, not because I was unworthy, but because they were unable to give it. A gentle, creative soul who wanted the unhappy controlling people to both delight in me, and find happiness themselves.

It’s obvious to me now in hindsight that they were never going to delight in me, or very little else. I drew these people to me – just like Brian seemed to. In some instances I even chose them myself. Ever noticed how we crazily seem to go after exactly what we don’t need in our lives?

However, the ‘standing up for myself’ prediction is proving 100% correct. These people are actually teaching self kindness,  forcing me to get tough about unacceptable behaviour. It is proving a pivotal part of this lifetime’s lessons. Treatment I once tolerated from others, I no longer do. Criticism I once grieved over, now slides off my ducks back. Frozen silences from passive aggressives don’t cause me to bat an eyelid in guilt.

I easily walk away from dates who express criticism of the way I style my hair. I choose to seek advice from friends who want to empower me and offer an objective view, rather than chasing validation unpleasable people. I surround myself with people who know how to respect and show curiosity in my point of view, even while not always agreeing. I am making choices that reflect my values, overflowing  from my growing self-confidence -  I have stepped out of the shade and into the sunshine of who I really am.  

And I have those difficult people to thank.


Sometimes we are rescued, like Brian. Sometimes we are refined through fire and learn how to rescue ourselves, like me.

There is great power within YOU too, if you find yourself trapped in the torment of control, exploited by the callous and self obsessed. You are not alone and you don’t have to stay trapped. Seek support where ever you can – the authorities, a psychologist or councillor, the salvation army or a similar organisation group. Whatever your particular circumstance, you need to know that within you lies all the bravery you need to change your situation. After all,


“There is no triumph without courage”

And deep down everyone has courage – a grain of it is all that it takes to turn your life around.


When what they have done to you begins to overwhelm you with sadness, look at the many people of the world who have overcome and gone onto greatness because of their refining by fire experience…..that same greatness exists in you waiting for freedom and expression.


God only knows what you’d be without them.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How to Write a Word Board



We've all seen word boards in trendy gift shops, or in the homes of our fashionable friends. Often they strike a chord, momentarily inspiring me to live life fuller and richer and truer.
 
And sometimes I'm just 'meh' about what I read. Yeah yeah yeah - I know I need to enjoy the little things, I know I need to think positive thoughts, I know I need to drink more water.

 
These are all good, but generic things and I want more than generic sayings on my precious wall space. Something that resonates. Something that reflects me, my family and our journey. What I really want is something that not only inspires me to the more wondrous heights of a life well lived, but something that can also remind me of the lessons I have learnt and just how far I have come.
 
So I decided it was time to write my own word board.
 
And then I was stuck. How to begin? Yes, I've learnt many life lessons. Yes, I know what those lessons are, but how do I transform all those things into simple, eloquent statements that encourage me?
 
And then I realised it was all about verbs. Action words. Doing things is what gives life momentum and direction. A truly inspirational word board is a call to personal action.

Step One:
 
So. I began to brainstorm every 'doing word' I could find. Simple doing words and ones with a positive vibe - no "Hunger" or "Ache" or "Destroy" doing words on this word board ! I ended up with a long list of pretty concise verbs that, for the most part, I could undertake in small ways each day - asking, giving, seeking, finding, accepting, thinking..... so far so good.  

Step Two:

Then I made a list of the biggest life lessons I have learned and the things I want to implement from those lessons. Lessons like "The purpose of suffering is to find meaning in what you are going through, that it may enhance your future" - gleaned from reading Viktor Frankl.

Or  "Living to make your own self happy, rather than being a martyr to everyone else's happiness" - discovered through my own (early onset) midlife crisis.

Once again I ended up with a list of about 11 important life lessons, ones that had caused me profound change, ones that I wanted to enact in my life from that moment on.

Step Three:

Simplify!

I took my list of action words and began matching some to my list of life lessons. In the process I really simplified their message into short, snappy statements.

The lesson "You and other people deserve the freedom to be themselves, with no judgement or criticism" became "Allow others to be themselves".

The lesson "Make your own informed and well researched decisions about every area of life, rather than simply believing what your are told from the pulpit, lectern, by your boss, co-workers or peers" (it's pretty obvious where these lessons came from!) became "Think for yourself".

My readership are intelligent, so I am sure you get the idea! In no time at all I had formatted a great little word board that I love and am personally inspired by. My next challenge will be to present it artistically on a canvas.....but in the meantime......what's on your word board?

This one's mine.....
 
 
                                                     Accept - this moment
                                                     Find - meaning in your sufferings
                                                     Seek - joy
                                                     Do - what makes you happy
                                                     Know - your heart and follow it
                                                     Think - for yourself
                                                     Focus - on what is good beautiful and kind
                                                     Allow - others to be themselves
                                                     Be - honest about how you feel
                                                     Ask - for what you need
                                                     Give - love

Monday, June 22, 2015

Single Women Are Amazing - here's an example why......

I don't know about where you live, but around these parts there are so many amazing single women, I am constantly inspired. From the single mum who is working fulltime, running a hectic household and still finding time to try and comprehend Minecraft technical difficulties for her ruffle feathered brood - to the astonishingly gifted professional woman doing her career thing in a culturally remote and lonely locality. So amazing are these women that I thought I would share their stories here on Life is Like Spongecake - because these women have most certainly created their own delicious life amidst some pretty tough 'cake'.
 
Our first Super Songecake Gal is the stoic and down to earth Annie Barr, from Behind The Barr Blog, telling her story in her own words.....
 
 
 
In 2009 I moved with my three young sons to the Murray River town of Barham on the NSW/VIC border; I wasn’t planning on staying.

It was meant to be a six to twelve month stopover on my way home to Hay but within six months we’d all fallen in love with the town and the community and my remedial massage therapy business was keeping me busy with fulltime work.
 
Five and a half years later, Barham is well and truly our home.
 
I grew up on my parent’s sheep station, west of Hay in western New South Wales and just assumed I’d one day marry a farmer and emulate the life my parents had, working together on the land and raising a family.
 
For a while my life seemed perfectly on track; while I didn’t marry a farmer, I did fall in love and marry a man who wanted a life in rural Australia. We ran our own rural contracting business, specializing in rural fencing on the vast plains surrounding Hay.
 
We had three sons, a home on a few acres and a successful business in a close-knit rural community.
 
In May 2003 my world came crashing down. Suddenly and without warning, I was a deserted wife, a single mother and our rural contracting business collapsed. My eldest son, Max had just turned five, Sam was three and Henry was only nine months old. It was a pretty tough time in my life.
 
The first few years following my divorce I was kept busy looking after the boys fulltime, earning some money doing part-time bookkeeping and swallowing my pride and accepting the single parent pension.
 
The year Henry started school, I moved all of us to Echuca, Victoria, I wanted to attend college fulltime and retrain as a remedial massage therapist. I needed to get my brain working and financially, stand on my own two feet again. Just over a year later I received my diploma and began my new career in the health profession.
 
Looking back over the last eleven years, I’m really proud of what the boys and I have achieved and feel immensely grateful for the opportunities and good fortune we’ve had.
 
We rent a beautiful old home right on the bank of the river, the boys walk or ride their bikes to the local schools and all enjoy having their friends over and going fishing. I enjoy nothing better than a few hours kayaking along the Murray and nearby Gunbower Creek or heading out on the country roads on my touring bike.
In 2011, after one too many letters to the editor of our local paper, I was invited to write a weekly column and “Behind the Barr” was born. I wrote a 600 – 800 word column every week in The Bridge newspaper for the next couple of years, about local events and whatever was going on in my life at the time.
 
Topics ranged from promoting the local food producers and their monthly farmers market to the serious problem of underage drinking to an amazing trip to England in 2012, accompanying local legend and farmer, Squadron Leader Edgar Pickles. A veteran World War II Lancaster pilot with the RAF’s Bomber Command, Edgar and I attended the unveiling by Queen Elizabeth of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London.
 
Although I’ve taken a break from writing the column for The Bridge, I still write on my Behind the Barr blogspot… however, I clearly write better with a weekly deadline, my blog posts have become a bit few and far between of late.
 
Column writing introduced me to a whole new world and for the last two years I have attended the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) annual conference in the United States.

Writing encouraged me to travel solo overseas for the first time in my life, go to places I never dreamed of visiting and hopefully setting an example for my sons that anything is possible, no matter where you live.
 
At the end of the day, in all the world, there is nowhere I would rather live than Barham. Rural Australia is like that.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Interview with Hay House Radio for The Journey of the Tree

This week I was interviewed by Jennifer Morris from Hay House Radio about my book The Journey of the Tree. Check out the interview here or on youtube - and don't forget to purchase a copy of The Journey of the Tree, for yourself or someone that needs to read a message of courage and triumph.

Mahalo and happy Friday!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Learning to dance again.....

A couple of months ago I took my children along to the local rock n roll dance lessons (I thought it would be a good 'family' thing to do together.) Well, the kids enjoyed it, but an hour was about as much as they could concentrate on and I ended up coming home a bit more frazzled than energised.
 
So, I think I will leave it for a little while longer - just till they get a wee bit older.
 
It has been the biggest mental hurdle I have faced actually - getting back into dancing again. Of all the things I struggled to 'get back on the horse' with, dancing was the main one. Rock and Roll dance lessons were how my ex husband and I dated all those many moons ago.
 
Actually, I'm not sure I am ready to 'partner dance' at this point still. Partner dancing to me has always been a beautiful, close and somewhat intimate thing - no matter if your bopping to Buddy Holly or doing some fiery Latin number. Call me silly and sentimental ( because I guess that's what I am!) but I tend to get a bit lost in the other person when dancing.....maybe it's all those wonderfully romantic 50's movies I watch as a child :)
 
Anyhow, despite the emotional limitations I continue to work through, I still hunger for the enjoyment of music through dance. So - YAY - I'm in a place these days where I feel emotionally able to dance again .....even though it is in a solo capacity. Thank goodness the 50's scene I love caters for that with a little dance called 'The Sex Kitten Stroll' (or in some circles, The Rockabilly Stroll).
 
I really don't know where this dance evolved from, but it is usually executed as a group of women in a line dancing fashion, but with a lot more wiggle!
 
I recently put together a youtube clip for my vintage blog, Alice Jean's, demonstrating how to do this dance (forgive the bad lighting and vagrancies of colour - my shirt was actually emerald green! - it was recorded on my HTC phone). I thought I should share it here on Life is like a Sponge Cake as well, simply because my philosophy that life should be filled with fun and joy lends itself to doing this dance !

Dancing is great exercise, moving joints and muscles that sometimes get overlooked, as well as increasing the heart rate.

Dancing is fabulous for mental health as well - music is well known to elevate or depress ones mood depending on lyrics, style, tempo etc - so choose lessons where your emotional mood will be invigorated...... Pole Dancing, Latin, Burlesque, Swing, Rock 'n Roll, Line Dancing or Ballroom are all good choices.

And if you are into partner dancing then the benefits of touch and closeness are wonderful. Do we ever get held enough?

Dancing provides exhilaration for 3 out of five senses - touch, sight, sound.....and if you or your partner wears a nice cologne or perfume you can add a fourth! Why not make a ritual of supper or drinks afterwards and top it off with a fifth sensory experience. Win, win, win !
 
So, my emotional healing continues to unfold, and solo dancing in my kitchen - sending out those sexy vibes to The Sex Kitten Stroll - not only keeps me fit and energised, but increasingly happy as well.
 
May it do the same for you !
 
Mwah!
 
 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Meanwhile, back in the jungle .....

 
 
 
OK. So Katy Perry has a song called ‘Roar’.

A song styled like a classic Tarzan and Jane cartoon, except, unlike Tarzan and Jane, the ‘hero’ of the clip is the woman.

 

What a turn on most mainstream, classic mid century storylines. I love the way Katy infuses everything good about the new with everything good about the old in so much of her work.

 

But that’s not all I love about this film clip. I love the lyrics……

 

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready 'cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
'Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar!

 

Inspiring isn’t it ?

 

Way back when – in the days of my grandmothers – women didn’t really have a choice in Australian society. After the role based freedoms of WW2, where women took on many ‘masculine’ jobs while their men were away fighting, the following few decades must have seemed so restrictive. Back to the roles of mothers & wives, teachers, secretaries, hairdressers and nurses (great occupations though these are). Although I am not a feminist, I am grateful for the freedoms the movement has bought women today. We can pretty much be anything we like – from Prime Minister to mechanic, CEO of a Bank to manager of a mine.

And its not just occupational freedoms that have been achieved.

If I want to remain single and childless, I can do so without being made to feel like a societal leper.

If I want to have a child through IVF as a single woman, I can do that too with little, if any, negative backlash.

If I find myself caught in a relationship that is neglectful, abusive, selfish or demoralizing, I have a choice. I don’t have to stay – as was the case in the not so distant mid 20th Century.

 

My own story is not dissimilar to Katy Perry’s song.

 

Once upon a time I had no courage to live a life true to myself – I lived only according to others expectations. And as my religious background encouraged me not to divorce, I stayed in an unhealthy relationship far longer than I should have.

 

Once upon a time I had no courage to allow myself to be happy. I resigned myself to my lot in life. I gave up the hope of relational happiness because of one decision I made in my early 20’s - when I knew nothing of life, love or relationships.

 

Once upon a time I didn’t think I was worthy of having my relational needs met. I thought I must be too demanding. I thought I must be ‘too much’ for any man to really love. I thought I must lack that captivating essence that made a woman worthy of being treasured.

 

But not any more.

 

Now I roar....and the roaring grows louder every day. And it feels really REALLY good!!!

My book - about the journey I have taken in discovering my roar – is out now on Balboa Press. Although my roar is a gentle one (that’s just my nature) it is also fiercely alive and passionate. It is my dream that people caught in the same trap I was, find the courage to transform their lives. Through my book “The Journey of the Tree” I want people to know that

 

They DO have the courage to live a life true to themselves, not others expectations

They ARE allowed to be happy in this one precious lifetime

They ARE worthy of having their relational needs met

To quote the famous New York dancer, Martha Graham – “There is one you in all of time”. The manifestation of life that is YOU could happen only once in all of history. Your combination of cells, genes, personality, creativity, locality and experiences could only blend together once. It is your responsibility to shine that preciousness forth into the world !
http://bookstore.balboapress.com/Products/SKU-000683774/The-Journey-Of-The-Tree.aspx 

Please consider purchasing my Aesopian like fable “The Journey of the Tree” as inspiration to stop being “Stranded in the Jungle’. It makes a beautiful gift book for yourself or others (daughters, family, friends, colleagues) needing the nudge to start roaring in their own lives.

 
 
 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Journey of the Tree - released for sale !

You know how some things just come together and you are fully aware the Universe is orchestrating them into being? The concept, story and artwork in my Aesopian like fable manifested in just that miraculous sort of way. My excitement over the project has grown enormously as people and events have guided this work to publication –  but it is a circumstance I would never have visualized 4 years ago.......
 

http://bookstore.balboapress.com/Products/SKU-000683774/The-Journey-Of-The-Tree.aspx



When my 10 year marriage ended, I felt like an unlovable failure. I had spent the majority of those years being not much more than a mother with sexual favours (can I say that?), investing so much of myself in a relationship that was pretty one sided and narcissistic (**).  I found myself pouring my energies into fulfilling someone else’s dreams, at the expense of my own health, longing for this person to notice, love and care for me. One day I realised it was never going to happen, and if I was going to live a life that fulfilled me – one where I allowed myself to be happy – I had to find the courage to change things. This is the story of that journey.


After I bravely left this unhealthy relationship and began to heal, I found myself seeking release in writing and art. Utilizing products from the local landscape and a stash of dress making fabrics, our home quickly turned into an artist’s studio.  My children wanted to join in all the fun of making collages, so for a couple of weeks we lived in a whirlwind of glue, fabric, sequins and paper mache! ‘The Journey of the Tree’  - my journey - was born, and as the work came together, I realized it was something many people would relate to, and find encouragement from. 


The book is written for the senior primary age group, but  it is also a beautiful tool that can be used to explain to a partner how close to breaking point you are feeling relationally. As was the case in my relationship, my own words never seemed to get through, but, like the parables of Jesus, sometimes a story is an inoffensive way of helping a message be heard.


Because of the books illustrated nature, it also makes a great gift, particularly for those going through a traumatic time relationally. It provides a gentle nudge towards making  healthy changes – whether that’s seeking counseling, setting boundaries, or leaving destructive circumstances. We all need to coureagously follow that still small voice telling us to make changes that "will keep us from dying completely."

I love most of all that it is a parable with many layers, and being in a simple genuine style, it is as suitable for older primary students as it is for their parents. Everyone on the planet deserves to be in a loving relationship, and to live a life honouring their heart.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGqEB05nH2o

Purchase your AUTOGRAPHED COPY by contacting me at kesenyabaker@bigpond.com or purchase the ebook here http://bookstore.balboapress.com/Products/SKU-000683774/The-Journey-Of-The-Tree.aspx .
 
 
 'May this story inspire you to know that you are worthy of total love, harmony and abundance'
 
"There is no triumph without courage"
 
 
(**) Narcissism is a term that originated with Narcissus in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Currently it is used to describe the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride.
Interestingly, co-dependent personalities are drawn to narcissists relationally - that is an area I need to focus on for improvement !

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's OK - A strategy for practising acceptance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGx3hf9_044&feature=youtube_gdata
 
(Click on the image above for a youtube talk on the topic of acceptance)
 

Forgive me dear friends, but today I am feeling low.

Do you ever get the guilts for feeling down? Like we should be happy and positive all of the time? What is that all about anyway?

Ever since the dawn of time, people have experienced moments of despair, disappointment, frustration and sadness.

Take a look at the famous Psalms of the Bible. Or the ancient book of Ecclesiastes. Honest, real tribulation and lament.
 
I think we do ourselves a huge injustice by not allowing ourselves to feel really really low from time to time.

When my marriage ended, naturally, I was shattered.
 
Burnt out.
 
Dead inside.
 
I was put on anti depressants and I didn't cry for a whole year. I plonked my children in front of the DVD player and slept for twelve months. I put on far too much weight. Does that seem normal?
 
Anti depressants have their place, but I will maintain that I was not depressed. I was exhausted. I was, well, done. What I needed more than a numbing of my brain and emotions, was the chance to grieve.  To let it work through my system and be processed by my body, mind and spirit.
 
To feel low.
 
If we believe we always have to feel happy, is it any wonder we feel guilt when we struggle, or when things don't work out, or when we experience rejection, grief, pain or stress.
 
It really is OK to feel those things.
 
I got off the anti-d's after that year, and I cried ALOT from then on. But it felt soooooo good to cry. It felt real, it felt human.
 
There is beauty in vulnerability, frailty and the grittiness of being human.
 
I never spend weeks in despair - I'm far too busy for that - but I am learning to help myself move through the difficult emotional times by practising acceptance.
 
We need to make room in life for the grittiness. We need to be kind to ourselves and our frail little hearts. Since leaving the anti-d's behind I have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue - a far better explanation, and a darn good reason why I don't need to numb myself at all, I need to care for myself in every way, instead.

I struggle and I feel low from time to time, and I've found a strategy that helps me so much mentally when I am overcome with low emotions. Here is my little secret, which doesn't prevent the heartaches when they come, but it does help in working it through .....
 
I tell myself its ok.
 
Now, that sounds pretty basic and pretty lame doesn't it? Let me explain.
 
I was riding along in my car, taking my kids to the bus stop one morning and physically shaking from the stress I was experiencing. My mind felt like it would burst with the pressure my thoughts were inflicting on me (mostly with desperate longing for my life to change somehow), and the long list of things I had to accomplish before sunset. I bought to mind my new resolution of self acceptance, and instead of repeating "calm down, calm down, calm down" in my head (which really only made me feel worse - because I couldn't) I told myself this:
 
"It's OK to feel overwhelmed. It's OK to want to change your life."
 
Would you believe that my hands stopped shaking?
 
I kept repeating that statement, and my heart and mind stilled. I kept repeating that phrase throughout the day, and the biggest load just fell off my shoulders.
 
I did nothing more than accept my humanness, and allow myself to want to change. I removed all judgement of myself and my thoughts, and just let myself be me - with whatever thoughts I had.
 
It was so liberating.
 
I still long to change my life somehow. To bring new things in, and let old things go. I still get low days - like today - but I choose to be kind to myself. I choose to allow myself to feel low, and let my mind and body work through it all. To cry if I need to.
 
I tell myself "It's OK" most of the time, and sometimes I forget, but that's OK too! Once I have accepted where I am at, I can focus my mind to new happy, positive thoughts so much better. But I HAVE to begin by accepting myself, my thoughts and feelings before the new positive thoughts have effect.
 
Maybe its just me who needs that. Maybe not. But I want you to know that wherever you are at today, whatever you are struggling with yourself, it's OK to feel the way you do.
 
It is human to feel the way you do.
 
And it is perfectly OK to wish your life was different from what it is.
 
And now you can begin to change it - just like I am (even when I am low)!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Short Shorts, Wolf Whistles and Phone Numbers -


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn51FgN_wt0
 
 
(Click on the image above for the youtube clip for this article)


I have a pair of yellow shorts.

 

They are short shorts, yes, but when the temperature hits 40 degrees for a week in Australia, they are a godsend of comfort, coolness and weather appropriate decency.

 

I like to go bike riding too - when the sun is setting, even on 40 degree days. I have a darling little cruiser push bike that is so pleasant to scoot down country lanes and along shaded riverside roads on. I feel alive when I get back from a ride - like I have simply been existing all day until bike ride time, and it is then that I escape all the 'must do's' at home, and find an hour long window of uninhibited day dreaming, picturesque country prettiness and peaceful quiet alone time. Sounds of birdlife; feeling of cool air as it comes drifting over the river to me on the riverside road; smells of clover and lucerne and irrigated pastures. Bliss.

 

And so it was that one day I was on my merry, lost in my own world, innocent way when out of no where I hear a wolf whistle. Doubting it was meant for me, I happily peddled on. And there it was again. I looked off to my left, straight at some youngish (think late 20's???) dude with his mates, smiling in a friendly way, directing the wolf whistle at me.
 
What the???

 

Was it the cruiser bike?

 

Was it the yellow shorts?

 

It had been a long time since a wolf whistle had been directed my way - whatever the reason - so I smiled and kept riding, albeit a little embarrassed and confused.

 

And what do I think of wolf whistles? Arnt they by many considered sexist and inappropriate for our politically correct times?

 

Meh.

 

Honestly, if a fellow wants to send me a compliment by way of a lighthearted whistle instead of a leer, lewd comment or uncomfortable proposition, I fully welcome the gesture. Women can wolf whistle as good as guys, so why shouldn't we be able to indulge in good natured appreciation now and again too? I freely tell men and women of attributes or features that I admire - be it the clothing they are wearing, their hair or whatever strikes me as attractive. Why should I keep good thoughts like that to myself? Is appreciation in such excess that we can afford to put the ka-bosh on it? Pffft! Good natured appreciation, in whatever manifestation, is a welcome, and flattering change....

 

Let me tell you about an incident that was not quite so welcome.......

 

Once again, I was wearing the cute yellow shorts (there really is something about them methinks) and casually strolling through a two dollar shop hunting down a frame for Mr Eight-year-old's recent artistic masterpiece. Suddenly, right in the home cleaning isle, I was confronted by, again, a young dude from some equatorial country in his 20's wearing an "I like my attitude" t-shirt who wanted to know if he could ask me a question.

 

"Sure" I said, thinking he wanted directions.

 

"How old are you?" Came the unexpected ultimatum.....

 

Sheeesh.

 

Flustered, I gave the age (I know, I'm just too darned nice.....)

 



"What?!! I thought you were in your twenties" He replied gaping, (Dude! When did you last get your eyes checked???) followed by a swift look me up and down. Eeew. Maybe he was trying to be complimentary - but I don't like being mentally undressed by complete strangers, let alone someone that much younger than me.



 

"Well, it doesn't matter. Would you like to go out sometime?" He continued. (Was this kid on a dare or something??)

 

I replied that I had three little children and didn't go out much.

 

"Do you live in Swan Hill?" (Town I was visiting that day) 

 

Again, I tried to shut him down by saying I lived three towns away.

 

"So, are you staying in town tonight? Would you like to spend tonight with me?"

 

I laughed to try and lighted the intensity of the moment - it was rapidly becoming more embarrassing, and I looked around the shop to see if other people were as freaked out as I......

 

"No" I said "I'm not interested and way too old for you"

 

You would think that would have been enough, but no.

 

"Well, can I have your number then???"

 

Yes. Right on. Harass me in the two dollar shop and then fully expect I will be dying to give you my phone number so you can continue to be a pest for goodness knows how long after. Yes my friend, I am totally that stupid.

 

Those yellow shorts have a hell of a lot to answer for.

 

End of story, I again told him no and left the shop, not caring about finding a picture frame for 'Starry Starry Night'.

 

Thankfully, I was visiting said town with a friend who had remained outside the shop for a sneaky cigarette. Time for a total debrief to stop myself shaking. My fine friend offered to go back and "deal with him", but of course that wasn't necessary, nice though it was of my gallant companion to offer.

 

Interestingly, that interaction I find far more demeaning than a fun filled wolf whistle. There was no joy, playfulness or wholesome cheekiness in what was said. It was just downright, weird. And dripping with desperate lust really. Dare I say, just because it was hot and I was wearing shorts, is that an excuse for someone to proposition me?

 

I mean, he could have meant well by what he said - he was paying me a compliment by the conversation I guess -  and you cant blame a guy for trying, but just the same, it wasn't exactly pleasant. And it certainly made me take a good look at what is a flattering interaction and what is more than a little bit inappropriate.

 

Do good people really proposition complete strangers for sex in two dollar shops in outback country towns? Its certainly not very Jane Austin is it now.
 
 
I am keen to hear any stories of flattering or not so flattering interactions from my readers though.....what is ok or not really ok for you? In  our laid back Aussie society, are wolf whistles appreciated by women (and men!)? Are short shorts indecent? Are sexual propositions with no attempt at wit or conversation, in the middle of the day, middle of a shop, middle of an outback town, appropriate?

 

So, usually in my posts I like to share how my experiences give me insight to life, or offer some sort of uplifting thought.
 
But not today.
 
Today I share these stories for the sheer amusement of it, and not a little because I am completely dumbfounded at the power of my cute yellow shorts......

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Check out more of my thoughts on the topic of appreciation at my Youtube channel here......

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