Zesty Mumma's Words

A life lived without passion is a life half lived

Archive for the category “Wednesday Wisdom”

Peruvian Grannies Selling Flowers In Buenos Aires Are Not To Be Messed With!

I first saw the colourful Peruvian Jasmine sellers at the end of my street. The family were strategically stationed in a prime position to attract passers by as they existed the subway after the daily commute. Grandma, mum, a little girl of about four years and a baby boy around six months of age. The baby had caught my attention on that cool, damp BA evening, wrapped warmly in his vibrant Peruvian blanket. Strands of black hair sneaking out from under the traditional bonnet and a happy little smile on his face, he was just so cute as he sat snuggly in his cardboard box on the sidewalk. I couldn’t help myself, the photo opportunity was too good; but as I pulled my phone out of my bag the grandma reached into box and took the baby out.  

When I saw the same family only a couple of block from my house I was again struck by how cute they were. Different location but exactly the same scene, minus the Granny. The opportunity to get that shot I had so desired a few weeks previous was invigorating, I couldn’t believe it. The sun was shining, the air was clear and life was good. I got the first photo no problem but I new it wasn’t good, so I walked half way across the road preparing for the next. That’s  when granny came barreling around the corner, screaming Peruvian unpleasantries at me. I did attempt to explain, for about ten seconds, but there was no placating her with my limited Spanish. All I could do was turn and walked away, granny still raging.

I have no idea why she objected, it could have been any number of things; fear of the authorities as there has been recent changes to immigration laws, maybe fear that the baby would be considered at risk. Really though it didn’t matter what the reason was or how picture perfect I considered the scene to be. It wasn’t just a photograph op for them, it was their life and that was hard enough without worrying about some foreigner taking photographs of them.

In a land where welfare support is virtually non existent or you aren’t a citizen you do what you have to, it’s all about survival. The number of people estimated to be living below the poverty line is approximately about 20% of the population of Buenos Aires. With another 10 – 20% considered vulnerable should prices increase or the bread winner unable to work. Considering the inflation rate for 2018 was 40% i that could be sooner rather than later

Sellers of every description inhabit the streets, alleyways and metro of Buenos Aires. The Subte (as the BA metro is called) provides the perfect market place for street hawkers. Sometimes they begin in booming voices explaining in detail what circumstances have let him or her to be in the position of needing to sell a product on the train. Other times they weave through the carriage placing their product on your knee. It could be chewing gum, a pair of socks, chocolate, hair ties or any number of other items. After they have covered the carriage they come back to either take the product back or take the money. On some lines you can be approach by three to five sellers in a journey of 15 minutes.

The “Cartoneros” though, take the award for the most original occupation and definitely fall under the banner of “only in Buenos Aires”. Hauling their huge carts around the street they serve the city as recyclers and actually receive a basic retainer. They are also able to sell whatever they find in the huge bell shaped recycling bins placed around the suburbs. There are approximately 5000 government appointed “Cartoneros”, however another 50000 also work the streets illegally but only get money for what they can sell. The dirty, hot and tiring work is not for the faint hearted.

… And what of my Peruvian flower sellers you may ask? Yes I have seen them at the end of my street once again but the baby now has his own pram. So I’m guessing that the main concern of the granny was the baby. I even think that on the very first occasion I noticed them, she had also noticed me and my attempt to get my camera out. Don’t mess with a Peruvian granny I say!

Advertisements

Hip Hip Hooray to International Women Day! But How Far Have We Really Come?

iwd 2

Let me start this week’s blog by telling a little story….

An immaculately dressed women walks past a mirror and glances quickly at her reflection. As she does her focus zeros in on the aspects of her appearance that she particularly dislikes. She flinches, averting her eyes from the image of herself, as if she were the Hunchback of Notre Dame caught in a spot light. A man walks past the same mirror, his baggy tracksuit pants hang just below his jiggling belly and his ripped Tshirt wears the remains of breakfast. He glances in the mirror and thinks to himself, “looking good”! The point of this story is that women will always look at themselves and think there is something wrong with them; where as men will always see an image of themselves and think they are a chick magnet, no matter how they look.

So lets go back to International Day of Women.

Does it mean we women are suddenly at peace with ourself’…. I doubt it

Does it mean that we are kind to each other…. I doubt it

Does it mean that we like our body…. I seriously doubt it

Does that sound pessimistic? Well it was meant to be. I just despair sometimes that in spite of all the fanfare that goes along with initiatives such as International Women’s Day, women still judge each other harshly and judge themselves even harsher. If we are totally honest there isn’t a woman that hasn’t looked at a photo of some starlet in a magazine, gleefully noticing that tiny bit of cellulite on her butt and rejoiced. Let’s forget the month she may have spent raising awareness for street children in Cambodia, no lets just focus on the cellulite.

I’d like to blame the media for subjecting us to the barrage of images and stories we are exposed to daily, the same images and stories that feed our obsession with beauty over achievement. However I don’t think we can totally dump the blame on the media, I believe the problem starts a little closer to home. It’s a secret passed down from mother to daughter from generation to generation, the signs so seemingly insignificant that most men would never even notice. But we girls know the code don’t we?

It starts very early in life, the little girl watching her mother as she flinches at the glimpse of herself in the mirror, the child takes it all in. Picture a family gathered for dinner, but mum is on a diet so her meal is different from the rest of the family, her daughter sees all. These and the other thousand of unspoken signals women send to their daughters train them where to focus their attention far more successfully than words ever could.

Of course it isn’t all doom and gloom, there are great role models out there; Amal Clooney for one, the brilliant human rights lawyer that represents the likes of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. The trouble is the first thing we think of when we see a photo of Amal is that fact that she is stick thin, beautiful and managed to bag the worlds most eligible bachelor, because that’s what we were trained to focus on.

So if focus is the problem, what can we do to change it? Maybe it’s not focus, maybe its just perspective! Do you remember the story I told at the start of this blog? Well by chance I told this story to a group of friends thinking I would get a laugh, which I did. After the laughter and discussion ended a wise male friend gave me his perspective on my little tale. He told me that the real truth of the story was that neither perspective were balanced, they were both extreme. The fact was that while men are never as good looking as they think they are, we women are never as bad as we perceive ourselves to be. In fact most of the time we are pretty darn awesome!

Deer Wars – Only in New Zealand

I

New Zealanders are a resourceful bunch. Historically there has never been a huge manufacturing base in that country so most products were imported. Funnily enough most of the western world is now in the same boat due to our dependence on the monolithic Chinese industrial juggernaut, but that’s another story.

So out in backyard sheds and farm buildings all over the country, with only Mable the Sheep for company, Kiwi inventors for generations have found answers to the most vexing of life’s problems. Using only a few bits of wire, a solder iron and some gaffer tape they have created and built every tool and device they ever needed. If you don’t believe me, watch “The World’s Fastest Indian and you’ll see what I mean.

These ingenious people are the same ones that gave us the bungy cord, Jet boats and my personal favourites, eggbeaters and hairpins. The contributing factors to this resourcefulness are simple. They are situated a long, long way from anywhere (other than Australia) and have a very, very small population (most of which actually lives in Australia).

Deer hunting in the Fjordland of the South Island is likewise a good example. These crazy men perfected the hunting of feral red deer from helicopters. At the time the government had decided there was a need to cull the deer due to their great numbers and the damage they were doing to the environment. The terrain as you would imagine was beyond rough and it became a time consuming activity. That is until the idea of hunting with helicopters became a reality.

During the 1970’s crews of three; a pilot, a spotter and the shooter, ranged through out the mountain country searching for the prize. At first the deer were plentiful and the money was good so it drew men from all over the country. They were hungry for work and adventure, just like the gold rush times of old. This was not an easy occupation by any means and death was a common occurrence. Approximately 80 hunters and pilots died during the time that has come to be known as The Deer Wars.

As the years rolled by the deer became scarce and smart. Just when the industry was on the verge of collapse the demand for live deer to stock new farms saved them. However, this became an even crazier time. Instead of shooting the deer’s, once they were spotted the helicopter would hover as close as it could above the startled animal.  Once the chopper was in place a hunter would actually jump out on top of the animal. As you can imagine accidents and misses were not uncommon, contributing greatly to the death toll.

Apparently there is a global job crisis, anyone thinking about retraining? I have a couple of suggestions, travel, adventure, what are you waiting for!

 

 

 

 

Never Give Up, You Just Never Know What is Going to Happen Next

Alex 2

Huge walls of hydraulic energy thundered down on the helpless coastline, Cyclone Joan had done her job well. On the beach the surf contest continued attracting spectators all morning. The wide expanse of sand in front of the surf club resembled Central Station at peak hour. Rubber duckies bounced high in the air as they jumped over the surging white water, then roared with intensity up the beach. While hovering helicopters fought for supremacy with loud speakers narrating the progress of each competitor in piercing tone, the confusion was complete. Out of the activity, a little way up the beach, Gail swam alone all the time wary not to venture beyond the shore break. The destructive power of the thunderous surf made survival for anyone caught in its iron grip impossible.

Where the girl came from Gail didn’t know but there she was a tiny figure alone in a sea of white water, screaming in terror as the surge tried to sweep her out to sea. The human instinct to help rose swiftly inside Gail and fought valiantly with her logical brain that accurately concluded she too would be fighting for her life if she did. The minutes ticked by like hours; scared she would loose sight of the girl if she went for help she desperately tried to attract attention. Gail’s frantic cries for help fell unheard below the roaring Jet engine of the raging surf. Desperation tightened its grip as she watched the girl’s tenuous grasp on life slipping away.

Out of nowhere a surfer appeared from under a monster wave.

“Do you need a hand to get in” he called in an amazingly calm voice. Gail’s compunction to laugh was almost unbearable. Didn’t he realise there was a ferocious beast hell bent on devouring her life and that of the other swimmer?

“I’m Okay, but there’s a girl in trouble out there,” She yelled back to him.

It wasn’t till the girl was safely on her way to shore that Gail realised the rip had taken hold of her and it wasn’t letting go.

Between breakers the ocean became a cauldron, as the sweep took her she was pounded by wall after wall of white water. Screaming until she was hoarse her voice was no match for the malevolent surf. As each new wave approached Gail steeled herself for the pounding she was about to receive, there was only enough time to gasp for air before being dragged down again. Sound no longer came from her open mouth.

A brief glance through the tumult revealed ants on the beach that used to be people.

Having reached the point of hopelessness, death seemed the inevitable next step.

Out of nowhere the surfer appeared beside her again, having taken the other girl to the safety of the beach he then realised Gail was the one in trouble now. Making his way back out through the treacherous conditions, he knew there wasn’t a minute to loose. Though the fog in her brain was thick, Gail felt herself lifted across the board and then blackness.

Gail opened her eyes and an ocean of water ran uncontrollably from her mouth. Coughing and spluttering she tried to sit, encircled by a crowd and totally unaware she was naked, her string bikini no match for the gigantic surf.

Inexplicably, after thanking her saviour Gail began crawling up the beach to where her husband and friend sat watching in oblivion. It was an unexplainable truth but fact is no one offered her a towel or help back to her family. She collapsed on a towel beside them. Feeling the thud as she hit the sand, Darren turned his head and asked in total innocence, “Where have you been?”

With all the strength her battered body could summon, she said in a gravelly whisper,

“You’ve got to be joking!”

Being a Mum Can Be Bad For Your Health

The woman in front of me looked stressed, her eyes glanced from the pile of eighty five gram tins of tuna she had piled onto  the conveyor belt, past me to grocery aisle behind us. She was careful not to look me in the eye, as is if there was some unknown shame she was trying to hide. Along with the tuna there were other tell tale signs, a three litre container of milk, a twelve pack of jam filled donuts attractively package in a cellophane covered white cardboard box and a jar of no name peanut butter, this woman was a mother.

Now, let me tell you, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I too am a mum.  Her face told the whole story, it was nearly five o’clock, she was still at the shops and she hadn’t prepared tea. Oh the panic attack of it all. I remember those days, the anxiety I suffered if I was still at the shops at that time was intense. As mothers we often placed huge expectations on ourselves. If we don’t get it right our kids will be failures. If we’re late for one dinner everything will come tumbling down. Aaarrgh!

“Have you forgotten something, do you want to go a and get it, I can wait?” I could see her mind ticking off all the things she should have grabbed. It was no skin off my nose I had all the time in the world. I live alone, my children have grown and left home.  What’s more I am finally cured of  that awful panic, but it took a long time.

“No that’s okay, it can wait” she said but her eyes still held that haunted look.

“Your worried about getting home aren’t you?” I couldn’t help myself.

“yes” she said hesitantly, embarrassed at the thought that her  secret was revealed.

“I know that look, your worried that the kids are at home and nothing is done? I remember feeling the same way” As soon as I spoke I could see her physically relax, amazed that someone knew how she felt.

In nursing homes they have a term for dementia patients who go a bit loopy at the end of the day. They call them sundowners. The funny thing is it is often women and it happens at that time of the day when everything gets crazy, kids come home, your trying to cook, there’s homework and fighting, very busy. Those poor old women are probably suffering post traumatic stress syndrome simply because they to were mothers.

I turned to this mum and told her the best advice I could give her.

“I have one thing to tell you, don’t stress, they will survive. If they have to have a can of tuna and a glass of milk for tea, it’s not going to kill them. Just don’t stress.”

Choice and Commitment – A hard lesson to Learn

The last few mornings I have been picking up and taking my friends two young daughters to school. The morning drop off is something I haven’t had the pleasure of partaking in for quite a while and I will readily admit I will not miss it. Crazy is a word that springs to mind, kids, cars (not a good mix) parents, dogs it’s all there. I can’t help looking back to my own primary school years when it was just lots of kids walking and the occasional car.

The two little girls I have been chaffeuring are absolutely gorgeous and no trouble at all, so it has been a pleasure. As an observer I have laughed to myself at the funny little characteristics that children take on relevant to their position in the family. The youngest is an impish, quirky, funny girl who tends to be babied by her siblings, while the oldest is a gentle and calm person who takes her responsibility to her younger sibling very seriously.

I can see the older girl in later life in a position where these beautiful characteristics are in high demand, i.e. nursing or teaching.

Today however, wasn’t a great day for the little one, her sister wasn’t going to school as she had to go to the dentist. This meant the little one has to go to school by herself.    She wasn’t happy!

Being the youngest she is used to always knowing that at least one of her siblings are always near at hand (she does have an older brother that is able to get himself to high school). She tried all the tricks that a youngest child tries, they plead, they cry and they stubbornly refuse to budge.

I truly wanted to keep her with me, it would have been so easy. We could have had a lovely girlie day and it was very tempting, but I didn’t relent. If you allow a child to stay home from school cause she doesn’t feel like going, does that same person not go to work as an adult because they don’t feel like it? Ok that might sound like a stretch but where does it stop?

One reason that cemented my determination to encourage her to go to school was the fact that she had promised her parents that she would. She kept repeating, “I shouldn’t have promised, I shouldn’t have promised”.  This nine year old had learnt something that many adults never learn, the implications of making a commitment. Her parents have done a great job, they successfully taught their child about choice and commitment.

This skill can be a determining factor for success in every aspect of your adult life.

So we sat in the sun, she cried, I cuddled her and she eventually got up and chose to walk into her classroom, while I breathed a sigh of relief.

Get Your Priorities Right – The Renovation Nightmare

Renovating a house can be a long and arduous project, as I’m sure anyone who has viewed the endless list of reality television shows will agree . A list of priorities is a necessity, however this is generally the point at which partners no longer see eye to eye. Men and women just can’t seem to place the same level of importance on the same bit of needed repair.

My husband feels that building a monolithic stone barbeque, which every bloke that comes to our house gazes at longingly, is of vital importance. Their eyes glaze over with appreciation, and say in hushed voices,” Ah, mate what a beauty”.

My priorities run a little more toward esthetics of the home. Personally though, considering that the bathroom is under the house and we have no internal stairs, I’d be happy with a light so I could see where I was going in the middle of the night.

It is a hazardous trip at the best of times. Two dogs, a cat and numerous green tree frogs being just some of the obstacles you have to navigate. However at one o’clock in the morning, when you are busting to go to the toilet, it can be out right dangerous.

As I stumbled down the stairs the deep sleep I had woken from still held me in its clutches and I was oblivious to my surroundings. I had almost made it to the bottom when my foot landed on something I had never felt before. Cool and smooth its coils rolled over the side of my foot. My heart stopped beating and I instantly leapt into the air, dancing and screaming as I hit the ground. In a second it was gone. I ran hysterically up the stairs to my sleeping husband to seek protection. After a few beers the night before he was not in any mood to wake up before time, but I tried anyway.

“Craig, Craig” I said, “I’ve just trodden on a snake”.
“Mmm, Mmm ” says he.
“Craig, Craig” I said, “I don’t know if I’ve been bitten by a snake”.
“Mmm, Mmm” says he.

We continued this routine for the next ten minutes, during which time my imagination raced and I perceived every speck on my foot as a fang mark. Finally, my voice found its way to the darkest reaches of his brain.

“Do you feel sick” Craig asked.
I thought seriously, my heart was jumping out of my throat, sweat was rolling down my brow, but no I didn’t feel sick.
Being the strength of our family and having the ability to make executive decisions, based on all available information, before closing his eyes and drifting back to sleep he said, “Lie down for a while and see what happens”.

For some unfathomable reason I listen to him.
As sleep finally came upon me my last thought was. “If anything happens I could be dead”.

Hard Work isn’t a dirty word, it’s a Necessity For Success

Yesterday I had to prepare a submission for a business owner. She was asked to speak about what she felt were the key elements of her success . I know this person very well and am one a small group who have seen how hard she has worked to achieve success.

Below is the list I prepared for this submission.

*          Vision  – You need to see where you are going to be able to make a choice of which path to take.

*          Passion – Loving what you do is vital cause it is going to get hard sometimes and only love will keep you going.

*          Respect – For your customers, Staff and suppliers cause you’re not alone on this journey.

*          Innovation – to be the best at what you do you have to be a leader not a follower. Striving to be ahead of the pack gets you noticed.

*          Tenacity – Last on this list but it may be the most important.  There are days when you will be barely hanging by the skin of you  teeth. You will need all the will you can muster just to lift your head off the pillow some morning’s. Tenacity is vital cause you’ll have to fight tooth and nail to make a go of it.

There have been times when I have honestly wondered how she survived but no matter what or how she was feeling she just kept going.

Which brings me to my point. Up until recently there has a trend that goes something like this. “tell a child they can be anything they want to be and the they will succeed.”

Really?

What about working hard, Is it a dirty word?

Success ALMOST never just happens. I am not just talking about your working life either, hard work is needed in every facet of your life.

Signs of Ageing No. 2 – Vanishing Car Keys

If Jimmy Barnes doing a Telstra Ad was my number 1 sign of getting old, I now have number 2.

Yesterday was a bad day, not going into detail but lets just move on. I parked my car under the carport, thinking for a brief moment that it would be terrible if I misplaced my key’s as then I wouldn’t be able to move it. That would mean Claire couldn’t get her car out and she couldn’t go to work.  I opened the door of my house with the keys and voilà, that’s the last I saw of them.

Not that I realised that it would be the last I saw them. This only happened about the time I wanted to move the car. That was about half an hour before I knew Claire would be wanting to leave.

As the panic set in I thankfully employed one the best aspects of maturity, ingenuity. I had actually angle the car so that even with a locked steering wheel the car would roll straight into the opened garage. So I knocked the car out of gear, took the hand break off and began pushing it toward the garage.  Just couldn’t get it over the last little bit of concrete to get it inside. I was really hoping that I could get the car all the way in before I had to admit why I had to move it manually.

Anyway, it’s raining today and my keys are nowhere to be seen. My little walk to work in the sunshine is not going to be quite as sunny as I had imagined.

Can’t wait for the next sign of aging, I’ll keep you posted.

First Sign of Ageing – Jimmy Barnes doing a Telsta Ad

Horror of horrors on the TV, Jimmy Barnes doing an ad for Telstra. I mean Jimmy Barnes – What Was He Thinking and do you know what the worst thing is, it makes me feel really old and I don’t like that at all. It’s just not rock n’ roll is it?

Where is his cheap wine and a three day growth? Maybe that’s the problem, the wine wasn’t that cheap anymore and manscaping costs a lot to accomplish these days. Why do these figures of our youth keep letting us down? When did he become respectable? Next he’ll be doing an album of classics with slick back hair and a tuxedo – Whoops he already did that.

images

 

The days of me sitting on a huge speak beside the stage at a Cold Chisel concert may be long gone, but I don’t need to be reminded like this. What can I say it is just cruel!

Post Navigation