Rules are made to be broken

Lots of things annoy me – my hubbie and my kids will tell you that.  I was once told I have a high “sense of justice” and I guess that’s true.  When I see something that is unfair, I want to get on my soapbox and espouse unto the world…. however, taking action is far better than just railing against the injustice of systems.

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about “rules” and how others perceive them.

We are in a long and unending discussion with our Mortgage provider.  I won’t go into details but suffice to say that we’re paying somewhere between 4% and 6% more on our mortgage than “standard” rates.  This happened due to a combination of events and we’re now looking at options.  We submitted paperwork, to our provider, back in February requesting assistance on the matter and have heard nothing.  We’ve already taken independant action about this but on Thursday, I received a phone call from our latest “account manager” and finally asked what the status of our request was.  This person stated they were unaware of the paperwork and had to look it up, which they did. Their only update was the information we had been given in February when we lodged the paperwork. So here we are 5 months later (paperwork was lodged at the end of February) and they’ve done nothing.  When I asked why nothing had been done, the person got mildly aggressive and blamed me for “not listening”.  Good luck to them, we’ll be taking our complaint through the various regulatory bodies and seeking mediation and resolution.

It’s funny that when you decide to “stand up for yourself” and “speak out”, people get defensive (or aggressive) and turn the blame back to you.  Well, I won’t stand for it – they put us through hoops in order to lodge the paperwork and then promptly did nothing with it.  That’s their issue – it’s not up to me to run their process and I’m well within my rights to not only ask the status but to demand an explanation of where the delay is.

Moving on…

You don't learn to walk by following rulesBlind obedience to the rules is something that has been grating on me for a long time.  As a business owner, I have processes.  Those processes are designed to help us, help our clients more effectively and when those processes don’t work, we review them.  There’s also an understanding that processes are (sometimes) designed to be ‘ignored’ to get a job done.  It’s a really fine balance and, as a business leader, I need to be on top this ALL OF THE TIME.

I get agitated when systems and processes obviously don’t work – and the answer you get is “that’s the system and we can’t do anything about it”.  What a load of crock – OF COURSE YOU CAN.  A process is only as good as the people implementing it – you should be providing feedback and making suggestions on how to improve it.  Living with a broken system because “that’s the just the way it is” is totally unacceptable.

As many of my readers know, I’m passionate about helping youngsters (particularly my own youngsters) in doing “more” with their life.  We have rules in our society that define what is and isn’t ‘the norm’ for children to do based on their age.

  • Morgan found it hard at school because lessons were just so boring – he couldn’t understand why he had to sit  for 4 to 6 hours a day in a classroom and ‘be lectured at’ when he made far more progress by doing something.
  • Rhi was bored and disenchanted in school. She was ‘dumbing herself down’ to fit in with her peer group (don’t get me wrong, some of her peers were brilliant, but the norm for the year was to not appear clever) and was starting to experience self esteem issues associated with this behaviour.

In both cases, Stu and I sought out alternatives to help the kids achieve their potential and combat (yes, combat) the issues they were experiencing.  We had to step outside the “rules” that were in place and find other answers – and we did.

  • Both children started a School Based Apprenticeship in Year 10 – which at the time was nearly unheard of.  We had to ‘break some rules’ to get them approved… 
  • Rhi moved on to an accelerated learning program which completely changed her perspective.

We were fortunate to find a group of teachers who were prepared to help us challenge the status quo and work together to help our young people achieve.

This week, I find that we are challenged yet again with another of these “rules” that limits participation due to age – no, you’re not old enough to attend this course… My question is WHY NOT?  The course is not dependant on physical ability (and if it was, age is not a determining factor), the only “legal” complication is being able to enter into a contract which can be done with myself or their dad as a proxy… it just doesn’t make sense.  Why on earth would you take a willing and eager participant and turn them away?   Of course, the flip side of that coin is that “you’re too old” for this course (or job) and that’s just as bad and subject of a whole other discussion…

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.
Richard Branson

It’s Much Ado About Nothing This Weekend

Rhi’s been in China just over a week and we’ve heard from her a couple of times – it sounds like she’s been super busy and engaged at the leadership congress and we can’t wait to hear about her experiences.

It’s been a busy week business wise, but more surprisingly socially for us – almost like a break in a drought really.  This week I went to an office opening, a trivia night and a 50th Birthday party…

Oh yeah, Morgan is really getting into this LARPing thing (Live Action Role Playing) and has been working on a new part to his costume which, thanks to our friend Kim, he got done on Friday night.  I had a bit of fun with a photo we snapped that evening.

Supplicants...

 

Speaking of LARPing, check out the photo’s from the “Wolf’s Howl”, a Hundred Swords game held  at Weston Park in Canberra on Saturday.

The Wolfs Howl - The Hundred Swords

The Wolfs Howl – The Hundred Swords
Photo courtesy of The Hundred Swords
Click here to see the whole album

 

Today, we got to see the new Joss Whedon movie, “Much Ado About Nothing”. It’s no secret, we’re huge Joss Whedon fans in our home and when we heard that he was doing Much Ado with Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof and Sean Maher we just knew we had to see it on the big screen.

What’s surprising is that the movie is only showing at Dendy – not in the other cinemas’.  We would have thought that more would have picked it up – but there you have it.

Anyway, it was fabulous.  I loved the 1993 version directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Emma Thompson – but this version is just awesome.

Marry Shakespeare with Joss Whedon and what would you expect?

In the other versions of Much Ado I’ve seen, the dialogue is normally delivered quite quickly (underscoring the combativeness between Beatrice and Benedick) – the actors in the Whedon version managed to slow the delivery down but maintained the appropriate cadence… it meant that I was able to “interact” with the dialogue on a completely different level.

I certainly came away with an even bigger appreciation of the acting talents of the cast.  Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof do a fantastic job – and there are many parts where you just have to giggle or even laugh out loud.  Of course, Nathan Fillion as Dogberry is a not to be forgotten performance (far better than Michael Keatons’ in the 1993 version)….

The music has been written by Jed Whedon (of course) and performed by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen – those Whedon’s are incredibly talented.

What I find most amazing is that the movie was prepared in 1 month and shot in just 12 days at Joss’s house.  The timing is astounding, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from Joss, the Whedons and the actors he works with… the house though – is amazing.  There is one scene where you see the view from the back verandah (or perhaps they call it a deck?) and it is breathtaking.

If you can get to see the movie at the cinema – you absolutely should – if not, when you can grab a copy you should.

[jwplayer mediaid=”393″]

Of course, you can find out more on the Much Ado About Nothing Movie Facebook page or website

 

 

Encouraging The Chick To Fly The Nest

rhi-apsylc-2013-800x800This last week, I saw my daughter off to China to attend the Asian Pacific Young Student Leadership Congress in China. I was struck with mixed feelings.

Great, great pride.  After all, she is one of 8 students selected to represent Australia … it’s an opportunity of a lifetime and recognition of the hard work she’s put into her schooling and participation over the last 18 months.

However I was challenged by the fact that my baby, and regardless of how old she is or will be she will always be my baby, was off to China – without myself or her Dad.  What happens if something goes wrong, how could I fix it?  How could I help her when she is so many miles away?

In the long run, all I could tell myself was how much of a growth opportunity this is for her.

I can only imagine what she will experience, the friends and connections she will make and how her perceptions of the world could change. I’m not alone in this – many of my friends have said the same thing and are keen to see the growth too.

I’m treating this journey as the practice run for when she leaves home in another 18 months (OMG, it’s just 18 months!) to attend Uni.  At least right now, she’ll be going to Adelaide for Uni and not leaving the country!

When I look at this brilliant young woman, I’m stunned at the changes we’ve seen in the last 18 months to 2 years.  From an intelligent, but withdrawn, girl to an intelligent, engaged, young woman who is prepared to step up and lead.   The other night, as we were driving home from an appointment, I remarked on how changed she was and how happy she seemed – and she stopped momentarily to think and then said “I am sooooo happy.”

We often joke that we’re pushy parents but the real truth is that we encourage both our kids to look seriously at the options available to them and make informed decisions.  With Rhi, the process we began 2 years ago was a challenge but it’s reaping rewards for her now.  Now, our young teen is happy and engaged. What more could we want?

Still, I’m counting the days till she’ll be home again and I eagerly await her blog updates to see what’s she’s been up to and experienced.  You can too by following her (and the other students) on the APYSLC 2013 blog.

 

 

 

SuperNova Sydney

June  21, we packed our two teenagers plus a friend into the Forester and headed to Sydney for SuperNova – Pop Culture Expo.  We’ve been mad Sci Fi and Fantasy fans for years, but we’ve never really had the inclination or time to devote to doing a ‘con’ (short for convention) and bit the bullet.  Of course having the kids as equally, if not more so, die hard genre fans made the decision much easier.

The line up for the weekend was kinda impressive – sessions with Alan Tudyk of Firefly / Serenity / Dolls House / Knights Tale; The Knights from King Arthurs court; Karl Urban (sigh); Manu Intiraymi (Star Trek Voyager); Anthony Montgomery (Star Trek Enterprise); David Hasselhoff (that one was for Jess…); The Wesley Twins (ok, ok, Oliver and James Phelps); and Carrie Fisher …. and that was just some of the actors.  Also included were some pretty neat Authors including: Trudi Canavan; Kate Forsyth; and Raymond E Feist – my faves, and there were heaps more there.

After one of the author panels, we got to speak with Kate Forsyth – she’s been a favourite of mine ever since Rhi picked up her books and started reading them.  Kates books were really Rhi’s introduction into Sci Fi / Fan genre.  Kate is an amazing author and has a doctorate in Fairy Tales (I’m sure it has a way more impressive title).  Her latest books (Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl) are based on Fairy Tales and were inspired as she conducted her research for her thesis – how cool is that?

However, I think the best part of the weekend was the CosPlay (costume role playing, or perhaps Dress Ups?).  Both youngsters participated, and to be honest the hubbie and I felt a bit out of place.  Rhi decided to do a different Role Play both days – first day as Sonja Blade (see the image below) and the second day saw a reprise of her Pinky Pie costume.  Morgan donned his LARPing Armour (his character name is Amras Inglorian, a half elf “Knight of the Claw”) to save the damsel from the beast (Jess played along nicely with this one) and take on a Predator.

CosPlay Highlights were Jon Snow and Ygritte (Game of Thones), the guys at the “Of Science and Swords” stand, Steampunk cosplayers and two lovely young ladies dressed as The Doctor (Dr Who?) and a Dalek (how awesome are their costumes?).  However, my biggest thanks goes to the Spartans who braved the cold and wet to parade around SuperNova in their (reasonably) authenticate Spartan garb (eye candy for me).

supernova1-600

I’m not a person who does crowds well – it has a lot to do with being 5ft tall and generally being missed in the overall crush however, the crowd and crush over the SuperNova weekend was extremely well behaved and incredibly polite.

Not only did we get to hear some of our fave actors and authors talk, we met some really interesting people and connected with a few local groups.  What more could we want from a weekend away.

 

I’m a Feminist and Damn Proud Of It

I am so sick of hearing the term “feminist” being used in a derogatory fashion… It seems to me, and this is from my own perspective so others may have a different experience of this, that a woman who steps up to speak for herself, pays for a lunch herself, expects to be treated equally in her community and receive the same rate of pay as her male counterparts is ‘vilified’ as being a ‘feminist’.  The term feminist is often used as an insult and a put down… a way to make a woman feel bad for speaking up for herself and being independent.

Strong words?  Yeah, they are. Are they ‘universally’ true, no – but I believe that the word “feminism” has been subverted to a rather distasteful term.  So much so that, until recently, I shied away from applying the term to myself – now, I just simply don’t care.

I believe in equal rights for everyone.  I believe people should be treated the same regardless of their gender.  Therefore, I AM a feminist

I was stunned how our country responded to having a female PM.  Whether or not you like her politics, what has her gender; marital status; whether she has children; or her weight / shape ever have to do with her policies and ability to actually govern or lead our country?  Rather than debating policies, we were distracted by the never ending crap that was dished out about her personally.  We’ve never asked our male leaders if their partners were lesbian or deigned to delve into such a personal issue; we have most certainly had (extremely) overweight male politicians – but did we hear any debate on whether they were fit to lead us or participate in the leadership of the country – NO!  So why is it different because our PM is a female?  The real answer is it shouldn’t be and that fact that it was, is disgraceful.

I recently entered a discussion on the following statement:

Boy Scouts is a sexist organisation. Girls Scouts is a “valuable protected space” for girls.
I feel that this issue pretty much exemplifies my feelings on feminism.

The ensuing discussion highlighted to me, how much the role of “feminism” in our society is misunderstood – what gender equity really means and why there is still the need for “positive discrimination” and “affirmative action”. Continue Reading →