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Oscar statues -  ebbandflowphotography on flickr

So yesterday was the Oscars and Twitter was near-ruined for the day. So many tweets telling you no more than what you would be seeing happen on TV if you had chosen to watch it, perhaps with the addition of sparkling commentary such as “love her hair.” Urgh. So much vapidity.
But what’s really caught my eye as been several tweets along these lines: “I’m watch the Oscars with my kids and the actresses are too skinny. I wish they could be good role-models for my daughters.”

Here’s the thing though:  They don’t need to be role-models for your daughters at all.

To some extent that’s up to you. You already know the actresses are too thin. That’s unlikely to have suddenly changed since last year. You know that it’s a world (the world of Hollywood and the red carpet, not of all filmmaking of course) which is obsessed with a very specific definition of beauty, of which thinness is a central tenant. And you should surely realise that by making a big deal about it, getting excited, having a night in with your daughters and ooing and ahhing over the red carpet you are communicating to them that this is what really matters. That this red carpet celebrity is the highest order of achievement in our society. That being young and beautiful (and, yes, thin) is a critical component in making it in life.

I don’t mean to get all judgey here. We all have our vices and our distractions. I love sport and will no-doubt end up transferring a sense of disproportionate importance over it to my son, but at least sport has an active component of doing, of running around and being part of a team, even if the sportspeople you see on TV are not good role-models in other ways.

But celebrity culture is a cancer, distracting us from things that really matter by making us care about lives barely glimpsed or understood. Not the art produced by these stars, but the aura of stardom itself. The phenomenon of people being “famous for being famous”, of reality TV devoid of real skills (not competitions like Masterchef but voyeuristic exercises like Jersey Shore or Big Brother) and magazines devoted to the practice of harassment and embellishment, practices you implicitly endorse when you purchase Hello or OK! Or any other celebrity gossip magazines. And most concerningly it manifests in the increasing number of children who, growing up, aspire simply to be “famous.” Not to achieve anything in particular, not even to be rich, which might imply success in a specific industry such as music or films, but, simply, look-at-me, know-my-name fame as an end in itself. And because kids aren’t idiots they understand that there’s a strong correlation between fame and looks.

So if you don’t want your daughters to embrace red-carpet walking super-skinny female actresses as their role-mode then maybe skip the pre-Oscars show. Watch the ceremony, which is at least about artistic output, but skip the bit that is purely and simply about how people look and what they’re wearing. Because your daughters deserve to know that success is about what you produce and the meaning you create, not just your waistline and hair. Our fame-obsessed society will push their values at them no matter what you do, but it’s you inviting it into your living room and communicating to your children that this is what matters.

And if this all seems a bit over-the-top for a light-hearted bit of family evening entertainment, that’s fair enough. I know you work hard and you deserve to switch off a bit and enjoy a spectacle with your family. I totally get that. But accept that it’s not about role-models. Don’t blame the stars, they’re just doing what they’ve got to do to succeed in a system we all contribute to. Find great role-models for your daughters in other places, in changemakers, entrepreneurs, scientists or athletes.

/end rant.

Photo by ebbandflowphotography made available on a creative commons license on flickr.

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Not quite the last sunset of 2012, but almost!

Not quite the last sunset of 2012, but almost!

We recently had our first holiday with Bodhi, ten days over in Western Australia catching up with my extended tribe over there and spending some quality time with Bodhi’s grandparents and aunt.

I had meant to write this while on vacation but found this impossible. I got half an hour on my laptop the day after we arrived and never got it out again. Holidaying with a baby is a different sort of holiday, more hectic and immersive, and you never really have time to fully relax or check out. Or write. At least I didn’t this trip, but I didn’t mind because it was so much fun to do stuff with Bodhi and to introduce him to so many family members.

And so it is that I find myself finally composing this now, long after I should be sleeping, a week after new years.

While I didn’t write it down I did manage to do something thinking on the trip, and some brainstorming with K, about our aspirations for the year ahead. I remember the same period a year ago, the slight anxiety about all the faced us: moving countries, becoming parents, our lives changed forever. A year on things feel more settled. Parenthood is endlessly challenging but infinitely rewarding, there’s isn’t an international move on the horizon, I’m not looking for work.

This sense of greater stability has allowed me to re-focus on some of the other things I care about, and the lifestyle K and I want to build in the longer-term.

I’m really into the rule of three at the moment. Three goals for the day, three themes for the week, three foci for the month. So in reflecting on the year ahead I decided to focus on three concepts for the year.

Wellness – restoring myself to a state of greater fitness and better health. Learn more about food and develop better eating habits. Support K in her food goals for the year.

Commitment – Getting more attuned to the needs of my family. Taking good care of the garden and learning to do things in a more organic way. Sticking with routines required for better health and productivity. Being more consistent with my writing.

Balance – Give my best self to all areas of my life. Be focused, productive and strategic at StartSomeGood and Make Believe. Be there for my family. Take better care of myself.

I’ve got a very good feeling about 2013. I feel like I’m on the cusp of a real time of change and evolution, but with my feet firmly on the ground, embedded in community and purpose.

Happy new year everyone!

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Modern parenting you guys

Monday marked two months into the Bodhi era and it’s been a joyful and exhausting blur. It feels like a massive journey already and yet it has barely begun. We’re filled with excitement about all that will come next, and delight in the constant tiny changes in Bodhi, the increased presence in his eyes, his new news, the way he now tracks objects and raises his head. Bodhi is beautiful but man he can be a bit of a baby, crying all the time, not contributing around the house, stuff like that. So it’s been a lot of work. We either laugh or cry or fall asleep on the couch at 8pm.

Which is totally okay and to be expected but I have other work to do as well. StartSomeGood is at a very delicate moment in our history, with some good runs on the board and a growing community but a lot to do to get where we need to get to to be sustainable. The next few months will be a make-or-break time for us as we relaunch the site and bring some new people onto our team. I’ve also been getting more involved in Make Believe as we explore the impending transition away from the last involved founder and what the company might look like in the future.

If I only had these two businesses (and my role on the Vibewire board) to work on life would be more than hectic enough, but I’ve also working on two major consulting projects which in a quirk of scheduling were both due last week, almost crushing me.

But I don’t want this to come across as a great big whinge though because I don’t really feel that way. This is just the reality of my life right now. In truth I can’t get over how much good stuff is happening and how fortunate I am to have so many opportunities to make a difference and do good work with great people.

Having so much on stretches my time management abilities to the limit. There’s something pretty exciting about having to pack it all in though, scrambling and hustling and staying up late getting the work that needs doing done, and balancing that with the demands of my family. I haven’t figured this balance out yet, things fluctuate too much from week to week and K carries too much of the burden, but it feels like we’re not too far off. The meaningfulness of it all keeps me energised and my many deadlines keep me (mostly) focused and somehow it is all (mostly) getting done.

This past weekend was inspirational. After getting those reports done we attended the Regrowth Festival, a stunning little festival near Canberra organised by some dear friends of ours. It was incredible to catch up with so many friends and see how far the festival had evolved since the last one I attended in 2007. And most of all it signified that life is on-track – that we haven’t gone to ground but will continue to live the lives we love, filled with music and friends and adventure. And a baby. All pretty amazing really.

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