31 December 2012

2012: The best year of my life.

As 2012 closes I am hoping that 2013 brings the joy this year has given me. I am a bit sad to see it go, longing for the good times to continue. Life's what you make of it though, so I'm tipping this momentum I found in 2012 to continue. It most certainly has been the best year of my life.

I feel I've found myself, grown into my being. I've become better with money, saving the most I've ever saved. I rarely skate on thin ice before each payday, even though I find myself socialising more. I've got a fantastic range of friends I socialise with - friends I can rely on. Some are in my city, others are in my computer. And I have the travel bug. I already want to plan another trip. I want to see more of this world, and I want it to see me. No Tell by Smoke and Jackal was my favourite song; The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Aphasia my favourite movies; and my favourite food has been Mexican.

The year hasn't been entirely smooth - my grandfather passed away in May - my Dad lost his father, my great uncle passed away in December, and my Dad was very unwell mid year (fortunately he is back to good health now). Sickness and loss has touched some of my friends and I hope 2013 is a better year for them. I was also very sick toward the end of the year - severe skin pain lasting for around six weeks - which was quite difficult to cope with. But overall I was quite well this year.

So what have been my highlights of 2012? Everything!

Receiving the Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars grant and mentoring, surfing, the ball and making friends with the grant recipients. Also, listening to then meeting Paul De Gelder, and getting Kirk Pengilly to call Camille at the Aim for the Stars ball.

Becoming a finalist for the second year running in the Best Australian Blogs competition.

Successfully completing the massive project in my day job, and organising the International Day of People with Disability event.

Writing this post about skin hunger.

Completing my thesis and Masters of Communication.

The England and America trip (and Air New Zealand's excellent service!). That You can read about it in the archives of July and August and a little in September.

Speaking at the Appearance Matters conference run by the Centre for Appearance Research in Bristol.

Shopping with Maggie Alderson.

Meeting Jack Oldacres - the little boy with Ichthyosis (and his parents), and De - a mother of a little boy with Ichthyosis.

BlogHer - especially seeing Barack Obama and Martha Stewart speak. Overall I didn't enjoy BlogHer as much as I hoped though, and probably don't need to go again.

Letting go of the man I loved. I feel lighter and happier.
Judging a film festival (and appearing in The Age).

Meeting Rick Guidotti and being photographed by him.

Writing for Frankie Magazine.

Speaking at the hospital and at Scope in front of 600 children.

The Human Brochure trip to Canberra with Tash.

The six course dessert feast.


Interviewing Bob Evans, seeing him play and meeting him.

Meeting great people including new overseas friends and blog readers.

Spending time with friends and family.

Volunteering at a community Christmas.

Wow! So many good times. I'm so grateful of every opportunity and to my body for letting me live such a full life.

I've received so much encouragement and support from those around me, and I am continually blown away by the strangers and friends who write to me to say they've read my writing. Thank you all - your words and actions really do mean a lot.

Yesterday I bumped into Fiona, my best friend at high school. Great to see she's the same girl as I remember - straight talking, genuine and not worried what others think. Fiona was one of the first to accept me for me, and she gave me much needed confidence and self belief. And she once loved Savage Garden as much as me!

We spent hours watching Red (now Channel V) and dubbing Savage Garden videos and interviews onto VHS tapes. We also once went to the Spice Girls movie wearing matching hand made silver lamé skirts.

We stopped being friends in the last year of high school. That was really hard for me, I missed her a lot. And so seeing her yesterday brought back the good memories of the time we spent together. She's doing well, and very happy. It was apt that we met in the department store where I worked for four years - the people I met there also gave me confidence and great friendship.

Fiona wrote the loveliest words on my Facebook after we met: "Im glad to see such a positive reflection of a time shared. I didnt and still dont believe i did anything special or extrodinary but am thankful for being led to believe that I had a small part on your road to awesome."

Seeing her again, and having a proper conversation for the first time in years, was a lovely way to end the year.

So farewell 2012. My resolution for 2013 is to make it as great as 2012.

Happy new year to you and your family. Be safe and happy. Make a wish for what you want in 2013, then make it happen!



30 December 2012

Disability exploitation online

Before you 'like' those photos of sick and disabled children on Facebook, think about how liking those photos are benefiting those children featured. There is often no explanation of the illness or disability and Facebook users leave derogatory comments below the photos. Permission is never sought to use the photos. It's exploitation.

My friend De has created a photo to be shared that provides information about ichthyosis and features her son. It's in response to a photo of a baby with ichthyosis circulating on Facebook. Like and share if you want to create actual awareness of this condition.

I have very little Internet access at the moment and cannot blog as much as I want to. I plan to write further on this matter, so stay tuned.

25 December 2012

Volunteering on Christmas day

Sometimes Christmas seems like the day to show off your financial and social wealth - shoppers rushing to buy the biggest and the most expensive presents, and recipients expecting to receive the same; lavish are feasts spread across tables; and party after party filled with family, friends and laughter and love.

But as I saw today, this type of Christmas, the one that I am accustomed to, is not available to so many in our community. Christmas can be so lonely.

My parents and I have just come home from volunteering at a community Christmas lunch at a Uniting church. We helped serve guests a traditional Christmas baked dinner, prepared by chefs from the local technical colleges. Each guest received a gift.

Some of the guests suffer from mental illness, others are in financial distress. I spoke to some widows and widowers, and also to a couple who have migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka three months ago. Some of the volunteers gave been doing these lunches for years, others came for the first time, just like us. I spoke to one young volunteer who said he has a difficult family life and so volunteering at this event helps him to take his mind off that on Christmas day.

Today at this church, 169 people had a better Christmas. Leftovers were sent to the police cells.

It felt good to be able to give the needy some food and company.
The smiles on their faces and the cheer in the air was really lovely.

Happy Christmas! I hope it has been a good one for you and your family. And if you're alone, I hope you got to partake in a community Christmas.

22 December 2012

The man who told me he was a rapist.

I've spent ages this morning trying to write this. Everytime I do, the story seems too complicated. But I feel I need to write it.

Last night I had someone evicted from a pub. I was at the pub with two friends, watching another friend play live music.

A man asked me to dance, I said no, then he leant in between my friend and I and said to me "I'm a rapist".


I asked him to leave us alone, and he walked away to play pool. I asked my friend if I just heard right, and she said yes. He said he was a rapist.

My friend and her brother would be leaving the pub soon, and that meant I'd be alone watching my other friend sing. The thought of me being somewhat alone and him still in the pub made me feel uncomfortable.

And so I went to the bar to buy a round of drinks and told the bar staff what this man said.

As I was talking to the bar staff, the man went to talk to my friend, touching her back, and he asked if his rapist comment was out of line. "What do you think?" she asked him.

Straight away the bar staff acted, telling me that what he said wasn't right, asking if I was ok, and telling me they'd speak to management. Soon after that, management asked him to leave the pub.

I felt a bit shaken, but was so glad he was out of the pub. He did not return.

When my friends had gone, I sat alone for a while, watching my other friend play music, and felt quite comfortable talking to the strangers around me, making new friends for the night. I played some pool, drank some cider, danced, talked to some great people. It turned out to be a fun night. And I got home safely.

I think I did the right thing in telling management. They can look out for him if he comes in next time, and look out for other customers in the pub. This morning I called CrimeStoppers to give them some details about the conversation and his description. Maybe his words were just words, maybe it was the alcohol talking. Maybe he thought he was being funny. No jokes should be made about rape. I didn't want his words to go unnoticed by authorities. I didn't want to do nothing.

I told a few guys at the pub what had happened. All of them said that his behaviour was not ok. I felt safer being alone and knowing that these guys, some of whom I'd just met, were all anti violence and willing to say, "no that's not ok".

I think the recent high profile murders of women in Melbourne have got people talking, looking out for each other. The majority of people have good hearts and strength to speak up against disgusting behaviour like this man's. That's reassuring.


If you need immediate emergency assistance call 000.

If you want to report suspicious behaviour call CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you need to talk to a crisis line call Lifeline on 13 11 14.


19 December 2012

If there was a sequel to Love Actually...

There's a movie that I watch every year. Usually twice a year, and guaranteed at Christmastime. I have it on DVD but will sit through the ad laden edit on TV. It's Love Actually. I wrote about my love for it here. My friends on Twitter love it too. When it was on TV last Thursday night, we were all talking about it. I admitted to my old man crush on Bill Nighy, suggesting that I am upholding my appearance diversity values in doing so.

I love all the love stories in the film. They are all special and complex in their own way - even the one where Alan Rickman has feelings for that pretty swan-necked woman who is not Emma Thompson, and Mr Bean inadvertently facilitates the affair by extravagantly wrapping a necklace for the other woman. I especially love the way Laura Linney's character is so devoted to caring for her brother she lets the man she's been longing for since her first day in the office slip away. And this.

And I cry.
As usual, the discussion on Twitter got me thinking. I exclaimed:

Oh Love Actually. I want to star in your sequel. Maybe a storyline about how a fan truly loves a famous singer in a totally non stalker way.

It'd be perfect. Based on a true story of course. I know it well. There's a singer I've loved for 16 years, it started off all "he's so cute I want to marry him" and then my love for him matured. His music changed my life - the lyrics resonated with me in such a way I'm sure the feeling equates to a new sense. And seeing him live made me feel amazing. He'd star as himself in the movie, writing emotional songs, singing falsetto and being a show pony on stage, occasionally toning it down in small venues, and I'd be hanging onto his every word, facial expression and catching sweat beads from the front row. I'm kidding about the sweat beads. That is stalker territory. There'd be a twist of course - maybe I would realise the unspoken fan/idol power imbalance? Maybe I'd catch his eye from the stage and he'd reach down to kiss and hug me. We could totally reenact that! And there'd be an "I love you".

Sounds like a good storyline, yeah? A little Love Actually, a little Almost Famous.

So Richard Curtis, if you're reading this, please consider this as a storyline should you make a Love Actually sequel, and get me to write and star in it.

What relationships would you like to see in the sequel?


18 December 2012

Gingerbread Village

I spent Friday after work taking in some of Melbourne's Christmas displays (and navigating the maddening crowds). My favourite display is again Gingerbread Village, located at City Gallery next to Melbourne Town Hall in Swanston Street. The display is made by Melbourne Epicure.

It is a delightful and intricate display of gingerbread and icing, recreating snowy scenes of Melbourne.

I love the stunning detail - the people, the market stalls, the landmarks (including moving parts, running water and lighting), but even more so, I love the shrieks of delight it brings out of the little children (and many adults) who visit. It is magic.
It has some features similar to last year, however the AFL grand final match at the MCG has been recreated to showcase this year's game. My favourite feature was Luna Park, with its bigmouth entrance, rickety looking roller coaster and fairground food stalls.

If you have children, do take them to visit, and relish their gasps, laughs and shrieks of delight. And if you don't have children, go anyway. You'll love it!

For more photos, visit my Facebook page.

Gingerbread Village is open from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm every day until 24 December. Entry is free but you can donate to the Starlight Foundation and hang a little gingerbread man on the tree. Follow the Gingerbread Village Facebook page here.


17 December 2012

The Masters graduation and the three year blogiversary. Online life is real life.

Last week I graduated from my Masters degree. It was a very hot, long evening and I thank RMIT staff for allowing me to sit in the air conditioning for most of the ceremony.

I have a Master of Communication, majoring in journalism and new media. It was my childhood dream to study journalism and become a journalist (now I've studied it I don't want to be a true journalist, but so glad I have the skills), and the new media component complements (the good bits of) my Bachelor of eCommerce perfectly. I enjoyed every subject of the Master of Communication degree and found it very practical. I recommend the RMIT degree.

I took a long time to complete it. But I did it! And so proud. I was counting the things that have happened in my life since I commenced it in 2005. A little writing career, two seasons of No Limits, a Yooralla Media Award, a Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars grant (and surfing!), an Australia Day Award, mentoring at the hospital, about five hospital stays and countless visits to the outpatients and emergency departments, two human deaths and two dog deaths in the family, three boys I have loved, finding out a past love lied about his whole life (and that situation being perfect for a journalism assignment), one brief return home to Albury to live, speaking at a range of functions, four meetings of Darren hayes, an invitation to speak in England, a lot of friends made and a few lost, and this blog.

I have had a six month break from study (if you don't count the short course I did through the Sydney Writers Centre in September) and already I am looking at what I could study next. I am thinking Health Promotion or a PhD in storytelling through blogging. But I am also enjoying not studying, having my weekends free, and not pressuring myself to achieve a high distinction.

Yesterday this blog turned three years old. I put so many of those events and achievements down to this blog. Even including the completion of my degree (and it probably distracted me from it too). I became more confident, developed a portfolio of writing, and finally identified with being a member of the disability community. I have been able to share my story, and have it heard - it matters. I was able to use this blog as the topic and references for my thesis. The most important thing though, is how this blog has allowed me to form so many friendships.

Lots of people I know don't get blogging and social media. Twitter seems the most complex to figure out - why share every thought, who really cares? Why do you have to upload another photo of your breakfast? What is your opinion so important that you have to let the whole world know? How can you discuss a TV show that you are watching with strangers online? Won't you miss out on living life? They can't understand the sharing of often intimate thoughts to the wide world. They can't understand that someone out there may be listening, when there is sometimes no one physically around us to listen. They can't understand how someone you talk to via a keyboard and an Internet connection can make for a deep, trusting and loving friendship.

Before I started this blog - when I had my other blogs - I never really connected with my readers. Our conversations never strayed from the blog. Meeting someone from the Internet was taboo, and me, being the outcast, always seemed to be meeting boys from the internet. Well not that many, just a few. Meeting people from the internet was considered a little bit daggy - even five years ago. There was an assumption you are lonely and without social skills.

I met this guy once, Chameleon was his ICQ name. I was 17, he was the same age. I guess I had a crush on him. When I came to Melbourne for a hospital trip, my (adult) friends brought me into the city to meet him. I had to give my friends his number, you know, just in case he murdered me. We met at Flinders Street station, under the clocks on the steps. He'd been up all night at a party, and was rather disheveled, with the faint smell of beer and pot on his clothes. My friends were freaking out, calling me on his mobile phone two hours in, to see if they needed to pick me up. He and I walked around the city, we went to see American Pie, and talked. The time spent with each other in person was no where near as interesting as time spent talking on ICQ. There seemed to be an online/offline disconnect. Very different to the way I connect online/offline now.

This past weekend I hung out with three people I met on the Internet. It's the done thing for me. I had lunch with a guy I've been talking with on Twitter - its a small world, we work in buildings next to each other. I saw a concert with Tash - we met via blogging and tweeting, and Camille and I had a cake feast/present exchange yesterday - I joked that I had to stalk her after I read an article she had written about illness that resonated with me, and found out she too was a blogger. Since starting this blog, I have met so many people that I may not have necessarily crossed paths with. Some bloggers, others tweeters. Some are online friends only - the distance keeps us apart, and others are online-come-offline friends. Too many to mention, but I can proudly call some of these online-come-offline friends some of my best friends. I've formed twitter friendships with people I admire - musicians, media personalities and writers - including Charlotte Dawson, Bob Evans, Patience Hodgson and Chrissie Swan. And then there's keeping in touch with old friends and those who have moved away (and even friends that never were my friends back at school) plus relatives I have never met until getting in touch online. We are connected more than ever. And if we allow it - like I have - our social lives can increase considerably.

Even my parents are embracing the Internet. For so many years, I felt they didn't understand my love of connecting online. They'd tell me to get off the internet, and joke about going outside to see what's happening in the real world. Now they are avid Facebook users, Mum has an iPad and Dad writes for an online publication called Think Tasmania. Just recently he declared that the best thing about writing for Think Tasmania was the great people he has met in his travels. It made my heart sing. They get it! They get why I'm so passionate about online connection. And though I am 31, it still feels good to have my parents' approval.

So to close, happy birthday Tune into Radio Carly! Thank you for the outlet to vent, clarify my thoughts, share my achievements, develop a writing portfolio, be the basis of my thesis, and for connecting me with so many wonderful people. And thank you for reading, commenting and sharing. My online life is my real life, and I'm ok with that. I'm not missing out on anything - in fact I'm living life more than ever.

And here's some celebration cake. Because my blog is an extension of me and it too likes cake.


14 December 2012

Summer in the city

There's been a few hot days so far this summer, but on the whole I'm enjoying what Melbourne has to offer. There is great food, culture, shopping, films and awesome people to spend my time with. I have such an active social amd entertainment life. This city is pretty amazing!

A couple of weeks ago I saw Margaret Fulton Queen of the Dessert at Theatre Works in St Kilda.

It was an energetic all singing, all dancing biography of Australian cooking legend Margaret Fulton. It was so much fun, and I came away inspired by all Margaret has achieved. Queen of the Dessert had a delicious sprinkling of Australian pop culture and history. Tash has done a review here. The program (pictured above) featured information about the cast, writers and also some retro Margaret Fulton dessert recipes.

A drink after work with Steph, in the sunshine by the Yarra.

And a burger - at The Boatbuilder's Yard, South Wharf.
Iced chocolate and Chrissie Swan's column at Wooly Bully, North Melbourne.
And a beautiful sunset after my graduation.
Tonight I'm off to the Arts Centre with Tash - after we have dinner at a riverside cafe. I have been given a double pass for The Key of the Sea as part of the Arts Centre's Summer Season.


The Summer Season features The Key of Sea, Blaze, Leo, Oh Suivant! and Perfect Tripod, plus theatre, outdoor performances at the Music Bowl and free activities for a range of ages.

I am really excited about The Key of the Sea as it is a performance featuring musicians with refugee/asylum seeker backgrounds paired up with some well known and up and coming Australian artists. The Key of the Sea concert will feature performances by: The Tim Rogers Polyxeni, Jinja Safari with Kinfe Geshu, Brous with Awaz, Chet Faker with The Royal Swazi Spa, and The Tiger & Me with Murtaza Jafari, with special guests MC Rockwiz’s Brian Nankervis and Waleed Aly.

I'll report back on how the show was soon. Look out for more Summer Season giveaways too.

Note: I was gifted this double pass from Immerse Agency in conjunction with The Arts Centre Melbourne.


13 December 2012

Frankie Magazine.

I've been reading Frankie Magazine since its first issue. I love its quirky, well written articles, soft lit photography and focus on the handmade. I am excited to say that I'm featured in the current edition, alongside some writers that I really admire.

You can pick up a copy from Australian newsagents and some supermarkets until early February, or buy it (worldwide) here.

Thanks to the lovely Jo Walker for having me and also Olga Bennett for the photos.

Frankie was named Australian magazine of the year and it's made in Melbourne. I feel so lucky and proud to be writing for my favourite mag!

12 December 2012

Why I will write for free.

You may have seen Mia Freedman's column following a heated debate about the non payment of the contributors on Mamamia.

I write for Mamamia. You can read my articles here. I am fiercely proud of writing for Mamamia - that I have had the opportunity to share my voice on a large mainstream website that reaches a huge readership. I'm a contributor who writes for free for Mia. And I am ok with that (for my own situation). I'm not saying everyone should write for free and I am not saying that editors shouldn't pay writers. I'm not sure if I have the proper knowledge of new media business models to debate that in a balanced way. But I can speak for why I am willing to write for free on some occasions.

Most of my pieces that have been published on Mamamia have already been on my blog. I figure, I've already written them and think they may apply to a wider audience, plus the tweaking they get when edited for Mamamia is good for me. I want to get paid for the new articles I pitch and write. Publication on Mamamia is excellent exposure that, along with my blog, has led to paid work. But I write for more than money.

I'm thankful for the opportunities they've given me. There is an element of creative control that I keep - I love that my stories have been kept in my own voice. I can't afford to leave my day job and house in Melbourne to do an internship. But having my stuff published on Mamamia is a bit like a flexible internship - I don't have to stop my full time paid work, I can get mentored by talented writers and editors, and put something on my CV.

I'm thankful for the people I've connected and made friends with - the Kiki and Tea team, Bern Morley, Bec Sparrow, Jamila Rizvi, Rick Morton, Kirsty Rice, Kate Hunter, plus all the other great bloggers and writers that I've had exposure to here.

And then there is this reason, the clincher: There is not much diversity in the media (I come at this from a disability/visual difference angle). It is often all about superficial celebrities, airbrushing and non issues. But Mia Freedman supports and promotes disability and appearance diversity in the media through my writing (and others such as Stella Young and Joanne Hutchins, plus includes articles about wider diversity issues) on her rather mainstream site. When I was young, I thought I would never get seen or heard in the media, and now look! This exposure does mean more to me than money can.

I remember the day I was asked if my piece could be published on Mamamia. I had been in contact with Mia for an article about body image that I was researching for DiVine. I emailed Mia the finished piece and then a few days later I received an email from Mamamia's then managing editor Lana, asking if she could publish MY article!! I was so excited I called my parents at work, explaining who Mia was, and then sought permission from DiVine to republish. It felt like my big break into mainstream media. And then earlier this year, I was asked to feature in Wardrobe Week where I showcased some of my favourite clothes. I felt like the team really valued diversity. They got it. And the piece on Rick Guidotti that I edited from my blog is one that I am most proud of this year. (And I was recognised in London by a Mamamia reader!) I have been able to play a small part in raising awareness of disability issues and appearance diversity in Australian mainstream media.

I recognise that some of the comments on Mamamia can be very scathing. I've been lucky - and I don't know whether it's because of the topics I've written about - that the comments I've received have been gentler than comments on other articles on Mamamia and on other websites. I was asked to write something passionate about disability for a news site, notorious for its nasty commenters, and without payment. I said no, I'm not wanting to be abused for free.

I guess I come from a place of privilege by being able to afford to be able to write for free in some instances. I do have a day job which means writing is not my main source of income. This past year and a half I've been taking my writing more seriously. I do get paid to write - I get advertising income from my blog, and a few freebies too (always disclosed), I wrote a few paid pieces for online publications and magazines, and I also do public speaking. Payment has not been enough to quit my day job, but it's something. It is definitely nice to be valued through exposure and money. Though it's funny, I received a cheque and some theatre tickets in the mail last night (pictured above). These were because of blogging. Though they made me smile, there was not the same rush I get seeing my words published.

So what's my answer to whether writers should write for free? Overall, no. If there is advertising revenue, some of that should go to a website's writers.

I have been blogging on and off for 12 years now, three years solidly on this blog. I have put myself out there to various publications and in some cases have received payment, but in most cases I haven't. It has been good exposure, for my own profile and for Ichthyosis and appearance diversity. But I am becoming more aware of my worth.

I have been thinking more and more about how to make my writing a more serious venture. Of course I can't cut back or quit my day job if editors won't pay, so I am wanting to spread my wings and sprinkle my words over the publications that do pay. I am being more discerning in my submissions now - I value my words and where they are published. And I'll still be submitting to Mamamia. For while I don't agree with all of Mia's opinions (I recall writing an emotional email to her the day after my dog died, in response to a column she wrote), and I don't enjoy every article on Mamamia, I do think the site contains quality writing about issues that make me think, laugh and cry, and I am so grateful for Mia and her team giving me an opportunity to have a voice in the media.


In similar news, pick up a copy of Frankie magazine from today - I am in it :)


10 December 2012

Ichthyosis just got glamorous. Bling on trend for dry skin pt 2.


Remember how I blogged about longing for a blinged jar of Vaseline? Well I asked and I received!

Chris blinged up a jar of Dermeze (paraffin blend) for my birthday!

Isn't this the coolest?! I won't be using it, it will be on display.

Thanks Chris!


08 December 2012

Birthday thoughts

Today I am 31. I reflect on the year that's passed, and think, who would have thought it would be this amazing? I feel comfortable, loved, confident, outspoken, accomplished and proud. Really proud.

I'm going to do some fun stuff today - shopping, movie, live music, food and drinks.

I feel so lucky.

07 December 2012

Christmas shopping for those in need. Give a charitable gift.

I was asked what I want for Christmas this year. And I can honestly say, I don't want for anything. I don't need anything. I can buy most things I want, and really, I have too much stuff. And there are many people in this world who are in greater need than me. You and your friends may feel the same. While I'm getting my loved ones a few presents, I'll also be donating to charity. I want everyone to have a happy Christmas and to feel valued. Christmas should be a happy time.

Here are some of the charities and causes I believe are so worthwhile supporting, not just at Christmas but all year around:

The Christmas giving tree. There's one at my workplace where staff can drop off toys, food and toiletries for families in need. If there's not one at your workplace, church or community group, there is the Kmart Wishing Tree where you can do the same.

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation - today is Daniel Morcombe's funeral, nine years to the day after he went missing from a bus stop on the Sunshine Coast. Daniel was abducted and murdered. His parents have set up the foundation to educate children about child safety, to assist victims of crime - particularly crime involving children. His parents are incredibly strong, and so hardworking to ensure Daniel will not be forgotten and that child safety is taught. Wear red today to remember Daniel.

The Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation - I was a 2012 grant recipient along with 25 inspirational, talented, driven, courageous and lovely women. A donation will go towards funding and mentoring a young woman's career.

Building Better Lives aims to move young people with severe disabilities out of aged care nursing homes and into supported accommodation that is more appropriate for their age.

St Kilda Mums is a charity based in Melbourne aimed at Mums and children in need. You can drop off good quality baby furniture (prams, cots, change tables etc), new toys, bottles and clothes, or donate money.

The Cancer Council Relay for Life - I am participating in the Relay for Life as an employee in my day job. The Relay for Life raises money to find research and treatment for cancer - a disease that has more than likely touched us all. One of my most favourite people in the world has survived cancer and I admire her strength and positivity so much. She's the one I am doing the relay for.

The Royal Children's Hospital has treated me and so many other young children. As the appeal saying goes, "Give so that they may grow".

The Make a Wish Foundation grants very sick children their wish. The foundation is currently experiencing financial difficulties which means they don't have enough money to meet demand.

World Vision - you only need to read Eden's blog to see how World Vision is helping people living in third world countries, and also in Indigenous communities in Australia.

The Lort Smith Animal Hospital provides high quality veterinary care at a reduced cost for the pets of people in need as well as shelter services for injured, surrendered and abandoned pets. You can make a donation by purchasing a gorgeous gift card.

Lifeline is a phone line for people in crisis. It provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services. Donations help fund the service. You can also volunteer at Lifeline. Christmas can be a lonely time for many, and Lifeline will no doubt receive calls from people who need to talk.

Positive Exposure, founded by my friend Rick Guidotti, is an initiative to change the way society views people with a wide range of genetic differences and medical conditions through photography. Rick does this through photographing people with genetic differences, just like he would photograph supermodels.

Changing Faces is London based organisation that helps people with facial differences and disfigurement become more confident, and educates society about appearance diversity.

Every Mother Counts is a charity I heard of firsthand from the founder, Christy Turlington Burns (yes the supermodel), at BlogHer in New York. Every Mother Counts helps educate women in third world countries about reproductive health.

Donate Life or donate blood - register to be an organ donor or make an appointment at your nearest Red Cross blood bank to give blood. You may save a life.

There is also the Australian Charities site which lists thousands of charities to support.

Remember, only donate what you can afford. You don't have to donate money, you may be able to find a charity or cause that accepts good quality used goods, or non perishable food and toiletries. Or you may be able to donate your time by helping out at a soup kitchen or wrapping and delivering presents to the needy.

I know there are so many more charities and causes out there that need support. If you have other charities and causes you want to spread the word about, please leave the information in the comments section.


05 December 2012

Dear Anonymous...


Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment. I know you'll be back to hate-read, so I'll give you something to read when you return.

I enable and enjoy the polite, constructive anonymous comments. I think they add value to a blog. They often enable readers to tell me their story, when they may not feel confident to with their name attached. But when they're hate fuelled, picky, judgemental, and those weird nonsensical spam comments, I, and my other blogging friends could do without them.

You think you have us bloggers all figured out. You think you know us, and therefore have a right to judge. You read one or two blog posts and decide we are greedy, sold out, vain, ugly, bad parents, needy, too fat/too thin, desperate for love, poor spellers, money-hungry, arrogant, or stupid. And you're so quick to offer us your opinion and advice. And those backhanded compliments - they're always welcome. "Don't take this the wrong way, but..." is always the beginning of a sentence that we have faith in. Not.

Your comments can cause us self doubt. They can make us wonder and worry who may be watching from afar, who may be having a sneaky dig at our lifestyles. We wonder when you may pounce next. Your comments can make us feel the need to justify our role as a blogger, and our income, because they are questioning our motives in an industry you probably don't understand. Your comments about our appearance can make us want to stop posting photos of ourselves. Your comments about our heartbreak and personal experiences can make us want to share a little less of ourselves online.

Sometimes your comments make us want to respond to you in the same nasty way you've written to us. Personally, I always respond to a nasty comment, to show that I am resilient. I try to be polite yet assertive. I want you to know that I stand by everything I write on this blog, and have dared to put so much of me out there, which is more than you'll ever do. But your comments do sting, no matter how much Teflon I spray on before pressing publish on each post. That time you told me I may be mentally unstable due to my love of Darren Hayes. When you implied I was racist because I mentioned that someone was from another country. The lack of context you had when I wrote about the Typo retard card, standing up for disability rights. That the time you told me how judgmental I was about homeless people harassing me in NYC. And that time you, kind enough to use a pseudonym, told me it's unrealistic to have love when I have a chronic illness. Those comments stung. You think you had me all figured out. But you don't know me. And if you did, you'd know that everything I write here is carefully considered.

Would your comments have stung any less if you has have put your name to them? I'm not sure - Online comments and activities are certainly good indicators of character, and the vitriol, racism and nastiness on Facebook pages scare me, especially considering people do put their names to their comments. However, I do think it would take as much courage as I have as a blogger for you to put your name to your anonymous nasty comment.

And until you have the courage to put our name to your writing online - be it a blog, or a comment on a blog, your nasty opinion does not matter to me. And if you don't like our blogs, don't read them. Simple.

Blogging is quite often, narcissistic. It's nice receiving praise and lovely comments. It's not to say we can't handle criticism either. We put ourselves out there, so maybe we should expect the criticism that comes with casting our opinion so widely. But should we have to take the nastiness? No. I doubt very much you'd say these things to us in person.

To all those lovely commenters out there - anonymous and with real names and pseudonyms - I thank you. Thank you for reading, enjoying my writing, sharing and returning. Thank you for caring enough to send well wishes. Thank you for the friendships - both online and in person. I particularly thank those of you who have written to me to tell me what a difference I have made to your lives. I really do appreciate your feedback, and I'm so glad I've helped you or made you laugh, cry, think, change your ways, seek help or become more confident. And thank you for going into bat for me when those other anonymous commenters visit.

So Anon, before you tap out your abusive reply, remember that there is someone else reading them on the other side of the screen. Even if comments are moderated, someone has to see them before they're published or not. Also consider how your behaviour is influencing the next generation. There's so much talk about childhood and teenage (online and face to face) bullying, but your online nastiness is just as bad.

And think about this, as a blogging friend said to me: "I don't tolerate douchbags in my real life, so I'm not going to tolerate them in my online life".

Yours in confident, transparent and continuing blogging,



03 December 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Ezra Miller is my new crush.

It's been ages since I've seen a film. Well no, scrap that. It's been ages since I've seen a film I've paid for! Hah! I last saw The Sessions after I was given a free pass, and I watched around 35 films as a judge at The Other Film Festival, and I watched (and slept through) about 12 films on my flights - The Lucky One and One Day were my favourites (an international flight is just a very expensive way of going to the cinema really!). I watched an awkward film in New York - the one about people my parents' age rekindling their sex life. Mum watched it too. Awkward! And I saw two films in London - Magic Mike and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. It's cheap to see films overseas (I did pay for those three!)

Last Saturday I decided to escape from the world for two hours and see a film. I chose The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It wasn't too blockbuster-y and it looked cute. I'm glad I saw it.

Based on the book by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of a Wallflower is a story of teenage love and coming of age, set in the early 1990s. The film centres around Charlie (Logan Lerman), an introverted writerly type, who has no friends following the suicide of his friend the previous year. He begins high school making one new friend - his English teacher, played by Paul Rudd (who I'll always remember from Clueless). Although Charlie is too scared to talk aloud in class, his teacher sees his intelligence in Charlie, and sets him additional readings and essays, to which Charlie completes with eagerness. He eventually gravitates to the senior year misfits at high school - he befriends them at a football game. His new friends, Patrick and Sam, close, flamboyant, step siblings, both have their own demons - Patrick (played by Ezra Miller from We Need to Talk About Kevin) is an intelligent prankster, openly gay - dating a secretly gay footballer, and Sam (Emma Watson), a girl with a sexual reputation, who, in Charlie's eyes, is the most beautiful girl in the world.

With the friendship of Patrick and Sam, and some others in the group, Charlie feels like he belongs somewhere, and so wanted. He feels good about himself, and able to cope with the thoughts of the trauma from his past. The group does youthful things for fun, yet their wisdom and conversations are well beyond their youth. Charlie, Sam and Patrick have had enough life experience and empathy to realise the love they all need to give each other. And they do.
Charlie is a sensitive person, he idolises Sam, yet she is always chasing the boys who treat her badly. His love for her is strong, even when he accidentally finds himself in a clingy relationship with one of his friends.
There are some beautiful lines in the film, ones that really resonated with me, including:

“It's just that I don't want to be somebody's crush. If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don't want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it too.” ~ Sam

“You can't just sit there and put everyone's lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can't. You have to do things.” ~ Sam

"We accept the love that we think we deserve." ~ Charlie/his teacher

Carly Findlay Perks of Being a Wallflower montage 1

These lines made me think, and consider how I should go about telling those I love them that I do.

The Perks of a Wallflower is heartwarming and funny at times, but it is dark. The storyline about Patrick's homosexualilty showed heartbreaking homophobia by other students, and the father of Patrick's boyfriend, but it also showed wonderful acceptance by his close friends. The film delves into child abuse and post traumatic stress syndrome, through a series of flashbacks to Charlie's childhood. His Aunt Helen, who he referred to as "the best person in the world until now" to Sam, was the unlikely culprit. "Let this be our little secret", Aunt Helen said, this memory coming back to haunt Charlie regularly. The girls in the cinema were making sympathetic sounds when Charlie finally found his tribe and kissed the girls, but I'm not sure if they knew how to react when the abuse was revealed, and nor did I. It was sad.

Charlie writes unsent letters to an unnamed friend, perhaps the friend who committed suicide, perhaps to the wider world. His letters help him process his thoughts, and eventually he doesn't need them anymore. I thought about how writing is therapy, if you're writing to an audience or to thin air. As long as you have a reader in mind, one who is understanding and whose love is unconditional.

Carly Findlay Perks of Being a Wallflower montage 2
The soundtrack is great - lots of references to mixtapes, and I especially loved hearing Crowded House's Don't Dream it's Over and David Bowie's Heroes. There's a scene where the three friends are driving through a tunnel, and Sam stands up in the back of the ute and feels alive. Later, Charlie said it was that moment when he truly felt accepted.
While Charlie is the main character, it was Patrick who stole the show for me. I admired his openness about his sexuality, his humour and talent (he was amazing in the Rocky Horror Picture Show performance).
And I loved the acceptance his friends have for him, and above all, the acceptance he has for himself. Even with a footballer jock boyfriend keeping their relationship a secret, Patrick is fiercely proud of his sexuality. The way the three main characters embrace their differences for the most part, amd still aware of their insecurities, made me wish I had found my tribe at school too. Patrick was like a mentor to the group, offering wisdom and experience to his contemporaries, despite his own insecurities.

And Ezra Miller is beautiful. Stunning.

I am captivated by his face. That smile. Those cheekbones. That hair. He seems just as charismatic off screen as his character Patrick.

Carly Findlay Perks of Being a Wallflower montage 3
While Ezra is 10 years younger than me, I got to thinking that I've often been attracted to effeminate looking men. Brian Molko. Daniel Johns. Darren Hayes in the Savage Garden days. Joseph Gordon Levitt. The boys at school who had long hair. My first boyfriend. There's something about those boys.
Carly Findlay Perks of Being a Wallflower Ezra Miller
I think I have a new film star crush in Ezra. And I have just bought the book version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower so I can devour more of those beautiful quotes.

(All photos sourced from Google images)


02 December 2012

Fashion I do not understand: the no pants look.

As the weather gets hotter, the pants get smaller. I was on a tram the other night, it was nearing 40 degrees, and Tash and I were heading to a beachy suburb. I found myself sitting next to a woman who told me ALL her ailments. And then she did a bit of the "those girls are asking for it" commentary about the clothing of some female passengers. I had wished Tash had taken that seat next to me before this excessively talkative woman had. And then I saw what she was referring to. No, I didn't think these women were "asking for it" - but I did think they had been very economical when they got dressed.

The female passengers wore bikini tops, ovesized singlets and pants that barely covered their arse cheeks. One had miniscule denim shorts on- they'd fit a Barbie doll, the other had bikini bottoms, also riding up her bottom, to hibernate for the summer. The one with bikini bottoms on also wore a life jacket, you know, in case we had to evacuate the tram.

Call me Nanna, call me a little judge-y. Some may call me hypocritical given I'm all about appearance diversity. But I don't get the no pants/short shorts look. You know, oversized tops worn as dresses, or short shorts like the ones below. Do you?

I feel like some women have forgotten one crucial item of clothing upon getting dressed. I don't know where to look. I'm not sure whether I'm in the Melbourne CBD or the most matronly dressed in a Mexican beer ad.

Granted, the women's legs look fantastic when exposed by the no pants/short shorts look. I could never achieve that level of slender with all the sitting I do. And I imagine the landscaping that needs to be done to keep everything tidy is also quite a task. (I'm blessed with hairless everything so if it weren't for my chub and modesty, I could totally rock the no pants look.)

I did try on some short shorts in New York, but my legs looked like they had increased five sizes. I do own some denim shorts too - and I swear they are the longest denim shorts I've ever seen. Are you sitting down? They come down to my mid thigh. The shame!

As a mark of respect to those ladies who don't wear pants in public, I'm going to spend the afternoon at home not wearing pants either. My undies and an oversized top shall be my only modesty. I guarantee my arse cheeks aren't quite as perky as the ones above.

So wear what you want, wear what makes you happy and comfortable in. But I still don't get this trend. A denim wedgie seems uncomfortable.



My most significant spend of 2012 #reverb12



It's been an amazing year. Maybe not this sore period, but the rest of it - amazeballs, as the yoof say.

Today's prompt for #Reverb12 (click picture above for more info) is 'what's your most significant spend?'

That didn't take much thinking. It was my overseas trip! You can read about it in the archives of July and August and a little in September. In summary, this is what I packed in:

I have been to Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Notting Hill, Camden, Bristol, Telford, Big Ben, London Bridge, Kensington Palace and Gardens, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert, WholeFoods (in three locations), The London Eye, Borough Market, Selfridges, TopShop, H&M on every goddamn corner, Marks and Sparks, British Museum of Popular Music, Emirates Cable Car, Hollywood Boulevard, Universal Studios, Santa Monica Farmers Market, Rockerfeller Centre, Ground Zero, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Central Park, American Museum of Natural History, The Met, MoMA, Momofuku, The Spotted Pig, met Christy Turlington, Times Square, Broadway and New Zealand Airport (plus lots lots more!).

I was exposed to culture, food, spent time with my family, progressed my career, saw famous landmarks and history, spent quality time with my Mum, thought about where I want to go, and what I need to do when I get there.

What was your most significant spend?



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