Inconsequential Differences Between Australia and the USA #1

While I’m recovering from surgery I figured I would set an entry to post that I’ve been thinking about for awhile.  Australia and the US have a lot in common and many more similarities than differences.  However, there are differences.  There are some big differences, like driving on the other side of the road that cause us to have to think more intentionally each time we get in the car or cross the street.  But many of the differences are pretty inconsequential.  They don’t really change things for us, they are just different.Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 9.56.16 AM.pngInconsequential difference #1 is the way hanger necks are shaped.  Can you tell which ones are US hangers and which ones are Australian hangers?  The ones with long necks are hangers we brought with us in our shipment.  The short necked ones were bought here in Australia.  This really makes no difference to our lives except that Australian hangers are too short to allow for things to be hung to dry on a doorframe.  Maybe no one else does this (I get it from my mother:-) but sometimes we hang our wet shirts on a doorframe if they don’t go in the dryer.  Maybe this isn’t a thing here because almost everyone has a clotheslines.  Houses in Australia don’t have dryers or don’t use their dryers as much as typical Americans.

So there you have it.  Entry #1 in the newest series of Inconsequential Differences Between Australia and the USA.  I’m sure you are all so fascinated that you will never look at hangers the same way again.

Walking Together- Reconciliation Week

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If I learned one thing from attending Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week events, it is that in order to really move forward with Reconciliation in Australia, we all need to learn how to walk together.  It’s more than legislation.  It’s more than mere acknowledgment.  It is about being willing to have the hard discussions and taking the challenging yet necessary steps together.

Reconciliation is a wonderful, hopeful word but it stops meaning something when one or both parties won’t put in the effort it takes to make reconciliation, even the idea possible. I still have a lot to learn about the history of Australia but I’m thankful for events like this where I can keep learning side by side with others who want to walk together.

Periods and Thinx

Warning:  This post is geared towards women.  If you are a male reader, please feel free to keep reading because you most likely will learn something.  But consider this your warning that the information may be a little (or a lot) out of your comfort zone.

In 2012 I posted about Periods and Papua New Guinea, although it’s an uncomfortable topic for some, I think it’s important to at least start a discussion.  And I do have to say, that because of that post, conversations have been opened with multiple people.  Admittedly, with some hesitation and caveats but the conversations still happened.  Now, 5 years later I figured it was time to post a little update.

When I first started using a menstrual cup, I was using it because it was practical.  I’ve tried both the Moon Cup and the Diva Cup, although there are other brands out there.  The shape and flexibility of the cup seem to be the main differences so it’s just a matter of preference.  In Papua New Guinea the cup helped because it was expensive to import other products and carrying one item only for an entire period is just easier.  But now after using these products for a longer time it’s become about something more.  Not only do I appreciate the practicality of a menstrual cup but I love that I don’t have to go out and buy more products every month.  I don’t have used products filling up my trash can.  And I can feel good about not adding more waste to a world filled with too many disposable items.  Why not use something that makes your life easier instead of more complicated?Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 12.18.58 PM.pngMy one complaint about the menstrual cup is that it sometimes leaks.  Not all the time, not even a lot of the time but sometimes.  After all these years I don’t know how to prevent it completely although I’ve learned some tricks that I think do help.  But on really heavy days, overnight or in certain situations it’s sometimes nice to have a little backup.  Pads were not an option for me or even panty liners.  Nope.  So when I saw an ad on Facebook for Thinx and heard a couple of friends tout their praises, I decided to give them a try.

I do not think I will ever use these as advertised for complete period protection, the menstrual cup is just too easy, less messy and practical for me.  However, as backup, as caution pre-period or in that post-period transition, I think they are great.  And although I have not yet been pregnant, I have heard that these are also great for post birth.  If anyone wants to try them out for complete period protection, feel free to report back.  I’d love to hear from someone I know instead of just the testimonials (which in general are pretty positive).

I love that there are all different styles of Thinx and they are also pretty.  So anyone, regardless of your taste in underwear can find a pair that works.  I also like that they are easy to clean and feel like normal underwear.  Note: there is a slight thickness to them, there has to be for any protection but way less thickness than even the thinest panty liner.  I’ve only tried one style but I’d definitely try others in the future and I’m very happy with how they work for me.

Thinx are not inexpensive but they do offer great deals and in comparison to what you would pay for typical period products or regular underwear, they really aren’t too extremely expensive either.  If you would like to try them out and use this link: Buy Thinx, you can get $10 of Thinx credit.  This also gives me $10 credit so it’s a win win for everyone.  I typically wouldn’t include a link like this but you benefit from it too and it might be the incentive you need to give them a try.

Menstrual cups, Thinx and period talk may not be a glamorous conversation but periods are a monthly reality for most women and anything that can help make that time of the month easier is a positive thing for me.

Getting to Know East Perth: Uni Edition

What I’m learning at the University isn’t just about getting it right for a test or writing the most amazing academic paper.  For me, it’s about engaging with the material in a way that will be beneficial and influential both now and in the future.

It’s the end of the semester and one project is almost completed (just a final presentation on Monday).  The simplified version of what we needed to do was make a map of an area highlighting the assets in that community.  The focus was about changing the way we view a community from what it is lacking, to what it has to offer.  Since we compiled ours on Google Maps, you can view the project here: East Perth Asset Map.East Perth.jpgI’m sharing this because I thought some of you might appreciate this virtual tour of our area.  We have been living in East Perth for about 4 months and this project changed the way I view this community.  It allowed me to see below the surface and look at different assets through the lens of different people.  The asset based approach view has limitations because you can miss some of the larger problems or holes if you only focus on the positives but even with that in mind, assets are a wonderful way to approach any community.  Being able to see what people have to offer and the potentials are a beautiful way to start a bigger conversation about growth and development.

In the future I hope to use what I’ve learned to make an asset map for the Wheatbelt and the rural communities where we would love to be working in the future.  It will take time but seeing the assets in these places and having conversations around growing the good things that are already present in these communities has the potential of being a bridge to the hope that so many are desperately seeking.

You Can’t Ask That

Sometimes we think questions in our minds but we don’t have the opportunity to ask.  Sometimes we recognize that our questions would be insensitive, rude or hurtful. Sometimes those questions are indeed all of those things and more.  But sometimes hearing different answers to the questions that may run through your head can be incredibly helpful, give us food for thought and insight or even compassion into someone else’s world.Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.24.01 PMABC in Australia has a very eye opening series called You Can’t Ask That.  In this series they interview a wide range of people from a certain demographic or background and ask them questions that are sometimes rude and often confronting.  The episodes I have watched so far have all been interesting.  I’m not sure if the link will work in the US, but I would recommend the Indigenous episode.  I think there is a lot of learning value to be seen but we need to recognize although the group is diverse, they still only represent a small snapshot of the wide variety of people the terms indigenous or Aboriginal represent.

Book Review: The Tribe Trilogy

Almost two years ago I read a book called The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf.  I blogged about it because the author, Ambelin Kwaymullina, is an Aboriginal woman and draws from her culture and heritage to build the landscape, inspire the characters and generally make some really interesting commentaries on society.  This is all done in an engaging, very readable format and I couldn’t wait for the next books to come out.

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In the past couple weeks I’ve devoured all three books of this series, only pausing to wait for the next book to be available at the library.  I would love to read more from this author.  The way she weaves history and culture into this fantasy world is really beautiful.  Because I’m currently here in Australia and one of my classes is an Indigenous Studies course, I found it particularly interesting what Kwaymullina chose to use as inspiration.

For example in the back of the 3rd book she speaks about the Citizenship Accords in the novels (don’t worry this isn’t a spoiler, I think it makes the book more powerful).  The Citizenship Accords were actually based on legislation regarding Aboriginal people passed in the 40s.  These laws made discrimination legal and restricted almost every part of Aboriginal life (from being able to go into cities and towns, who they could marry, where they could live, etc).  Having that in the back of your mind while reading the novel makes the story more real despite the dystopian fantasy genre.

I would definitely recommend this series as a fun, thoughtful, easy read.  Enjoy the plot line, enjoy getting to know the characters and I hope that the interwoven inspiration gives you pause to think as well.  Happy Reading!

Getting to Know Perth: Australia Post

Think the Post Office is just for mailing things?  Think again.  In the US we can do some passport things at the post office and also buy a few post related items like greeting cards or packing materials.  But in general a US Post Office is simply for the mail.  Ryan and I were expecting the same from Australia Post but we’ve been pleasantly surprised.  Australia Post is so much more than just mail.  Our neighborhood post office is amazingly useful and the staff are also very helpful.screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-6-25-38-pmExample 1: Since we now live in an apartment where packages can’t easily be delivered, we went to the post office to see what they offered.  We were expecting some sort of paid PO Box service but instead they have a free service where we are assigned a number and our packages can be mailed directly to the post office, we get an email that they’ve arrived and then we can pick them up when it’s convenient for us.  This even works for things that have to be signed for.  Easy!

Example 2: Ryan went to the post office to buy envelopes in order to mail the transfer of ownership paperwork for the car we just bought.  When he got to the counter, the man noticed the paper and told him that he could process it right there.  Ryan saved a stamp and a trip to the Department of Transport (the Aussie DMV).  The post office here not only does passport services but they process other paperwork too.  Super convenient!

Example 3: The post office here also sells all sorts of things.  They have the typical mail related things but they also have books, gifts, Christmas lights, shredders and other general office supplies.  They even have a flyer that comes out with their latest offerings and sales.  Practical!

Getting to know Australia means getting to know the basic services we need and the post office has been a wonderfully pleasant surprise.