Books

Who are the old champions of your self-worth?

I part took in an exercise from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way*. This exercise required me to dig through my memory bank and find people who may have seen something in me that I didn't, those who encouraged my interests or natural aptitude. In short - I had to find those people who backed me with whole confidence. The beauty of this exercise is that we can quickly realise that these people have helped us beyond the time we've known them. Their confidence in us has actually laid a permanent place in our lifelong development of not only giving us a wider view on life, but on being a better person. And it always comes from their kindness.

The added benefit of this is that during lowly times, when our confidence is knocked, when we're looking for some respite from negative thoughts, we can turn to these old champions in our minds to inspire us again.

The ultimate champion - Ms. Jill Barker

In this exercise I cited my Year 12 English teacher, Jill Barker. English had never been my strength in school (I'm sure you can pick out errors in the way that I blog). The final year of high school saw a tremendous upswing in grades only because I gave extra attention to it.

I did away with being intimidated and overwhelmed and tackled text in ways I never had before. It meant less indulging in TV and music and more time dedicated to reading all the prescibed novels across the Summer ahead of the school year. It meant being curious and participating in class discussions where I had to swallow my pride and be prepared to be wrong.

What I found were potent universal themes in the books we studied. One in particular, David Malouf's Fly Away Peter, beautifully embraced the theme of mortality - a topic I've always been fixated on since the passing of my father as a child. And there was Ms. Barker guiding our young minds through it all with all her grace, intelligence and positive reinforcement.

Yes, I had to show up and do the work. This was coupled with her flawless manner. Her teaching was gentle, yet effective. She didn't have to yell to command respect in the class room. She wasn't patronising. I think what was most important is that she treated us like women instead of girls. You wanted to be a good student of hers. You wanted to do your best. The feeling in every class was always warm and supportive. The result? Top grades for all.

At the end of the school year Ms. Barker wrote a poem - a line dedicated to each student.

"I love Faustina to the ends of her every curl..."

To this day, this has been the kindest words ever said to me.

The year long experience still sits on my bones. And the lessons learnt in that class room still act like a slow release or a late bloom - purposefully designed to only be understood as we grow older and embrace the enormity of life.

I have no doubt that I'll keep being taught these lessons, these epiphanies from that time til the day I breathe my last breath.

These old champions of self worth, they're real treasures to hold onto.

 

*I'm down for borrowing books over purchasing them. We pay for them with our taxes.

Library Resources:

Los Angeles Public Library

New York Public Library

The British Library

State Library of Victoria

State Library of New South Wales

Fame Or Peace

Following the end of Video Hits in August last year I decided to take some serious time off to travel the world and make a lot of reassessments in my life and career. Although I traveled considerably with work and with friends I hadn't really ventured off on my own for a long period of time. I spoilt myself. I hung out in rain forests in Madagascar, went on Safari in Ngala, South Africa, visited Soweto, Cape Town, Rome, Florence, saw my family and friends in London and then at one point of my travels I decided to rent an apartment in New York City for three months. Since my first visit o/s from Australia as a teen, something has always drawn me to this place. It's the people. A multicultural melting pot. The energy the the people bring to the city - they are limitless with their ideas. It's infectious. I needed to be there. And with that I researched and watched a lot of television. What I was after was a role model. I was also after inspiration. After all there's a whole lot more TV to choose from in America and they really do set the tone of the majority of what we watch on commercial networks in Australia. Why not be where the action is?

So in my NYC pad I surfed, and so be it - I watched a whole lot of the Oprah Winfrey Network. Some of the major things I had gotten from this were a) I had found my role model - Lisa Ling - whom deserves masses of praise forever more for reasons that I'll explain in later blog posts I'm sure and b) of all the programming one particular episode of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday really resonated with me.

It was Oprah's chat with an author named Mark Nepo. The man was a writer and poet who had survived cancer. In the time that he was going through his treatment he had written stories of his discoveries on life and would he would share it with his friends over email. His friends would pass his emails on, so much so that it became its own movement. It resulted in his New York Times best selling book - The Book of Awakening. This book has a piece of inspiration for every day of the year.

 

One of the parts of the book that really resonated was titled "Fame or Peace" here's the excerpt:

Fame Or Peace

Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.

Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognised as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive to us only if we dare to see and recognise everything as special.

The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grave us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving. 

One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.

It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, building our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention that we can give."

Pretty bold words. I think this rings true in all of our lives in varying degrees. Some time or another we seek attention for the work we do in hope that it will make us content that we're doing the right thing or being seen is a validation of our actions. The complexity around this is that I do think it's good to be encouraged to work at our utmost potential and we yes do live in a society that rewards people being the best at what they do - it has been in our very nature for a long time. I guess it's a balancing act to know that we all throughout our lives have done the best that we could at that time. It becomes unhealthy for those who just want recognition or to be seen.

And this is amplified many times over because of the business that I've chosen to work in. Media. Ei! And some of you reading this might think referring to this passage of the book is a bit rich coming from me. A woman who works on tele who has made a career so far talking to celebrities. And in my travels and research I really questioned the work I had been doing and what path to take moving forward. Firstly this trip was grounding in many ways. I mentioned earlier that the intention for this trip was to reassess everything. I began studying media (along side Human Geography) and then began work in television with the overall aim of wanting to work in documentary and factual entertainment, and after 10 years of study and experience in both production and presenting these goals are slowly coming into fruition.

I'm thankful that I worked on a show that mostly focused on the artist's music and career and not the "celebrity" and "gossip", it's allowed me to travel to major cities in the world, I've met some fantastic people in television that share the same vision both in the factual space and entertainment space, I've seen the great side to the TV business and its ruthless side, I've been able to support charities and foundations beyond the capacity I had before working in the media, I've loved talking to schools about education - my passion for it and the trials I went through in VCE  and University to other VCE, HSC and University students. And most importantly I love working in teams - I love love the process of production, I love interviewing interesting people and hopefully shedding light on a persons life for viewers which they may not have seen before, I love research and I love learning and the best learning has been from learning from my mistakes.

Which brings me to the purpose of this blog. I was hesitant on even starting my own site or blog cause I used to think that blogs (especially for people in media jobs like mine) to be a platform to be self promoting, moralising, self righteous, or on the other hand cheeky while taking stabs at other people. It's been great people like Sarah Wilson and Marija Ivkovic that have shown me otherwise. I hope my entries are here for discovery, discussion and hopefully help inspire you in some ways while I follow my passions and interview people of interest for who they are on the inside. It's here to celebrate all that's great in life. I'm learning all the time. And this will be a fine balance of sharing what's going on in my life and career to the things that interest me the most.

This gives me peace, in knowing that the intention is in the right place for me to share with you. If you're looking for a trove of inspiration and poetry please do pick up Mark Nepo's Book of Awakening. It's helped me a great deal on reaffirming perspective on life and knowing what's most important.