ipe Daily Bliss: January 2009

Daily Bliss

Today's lovely moments are tomorrow’s beautiful memories

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Siblings

Yesterday, I had one of those days that affirms that I have one of the nicest families into which one can be born. My four sisters who live here in Brisbane, our husbands, and my three Brisbane-based off spring gathered to celebrate the life of one of their mothers-in-law who died just before the weekend. When the Graves Girls are really needed, they are there at hand and ready to do what needs doing. That's something really important in life, I think.

I'm also very proud of my off-spring. They all came out of respect for The Aunt and her family, and in memory of all the good times they have had with this particular family, not cos they knew Granny as well as did others at the funeral.

My offspring call my sisters 'The Aunts'. Depending on the day and the mood, there is sometimes a rolling of the eyes when the term is used - but only just for fun to add emphasis to whatever is being said about these women collectively. The Graves cousins (my sisters' children) apparently call us all 'The Sisters'. I occasionally think of these sisters as 'The Drama Queen Quartet', but I love them dearly. The MOTH, who has only known them for 5 years, loves them to pieces, too, and is quite envious of our family gatherings.

I have two siblings apart from those mentioned above: an older sister and an older brother. My eldest sister left home more than 30 years ago and lives the quiet life in Canberra. She's still a big part of the family by telephone, but chooses not to come to family celebrations or funerals (sibling's weddings were the exception) and she discourages visitors because she says she's too disorganised to tidy her house to allow them to stay. Sadly, she's never married nor had kids, so I guess she doesn't have the need to get the next generation interacting. I think she's a bit nuts, but I love her to pieces, all the same.

My only brother lives on the Gold Coast. His wife loathes her 6 sisters-in-law. Being an only daughter, I could understand her reticence that at the beginning, but not now after 28 years of marriage. She uses her sore back and inability to travel the 70km to visit as an excuse to have missed every family gathering we have had in the last 20 years, yet she travels with my brother whenever he goes to Melbourne, Tasmania, New Zealand, sailing the South Pacific, etc. We've been invited to only two parties since they were married in 1982 - and my sister-in-law was horrified that all our off-spring (and mountainous plates of food to feed them all) came with us to help celebrate the events in question. She discourages every attempt I make to come and visit, saying yes to some and then cancelling or flatly refusing opportunities to gather together.

Consequently, my brother's nearly adult off-spring hardly know their Graves cousins. It's sad. I miss my brother a lot but I guess, they know where I live and have a telephone that they can use to invite themselves over, if they want.

Six out of seven communicate really well, and obviously love each other dearly, even if we don't see each other every day. Five of us make regular wine sipping time for each other. We are the lucky family, in my humble opinion.

What about you? Have you been blessed with a vibrant & communicating family, like mine?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

On my soapbox!

Gosh, I wish that the Federal Minister of Education here in Australia read my blog.

I am a teacher but I don't work full time. Forget all those supposed holidays you hear that teachers get. The 10 weeks vacation that the Australian kids have don't exist for the majority of Australian teachers. We're too busy planning for the next term or marking from the last.

I don't work full time because I don't want to spend my life (not just the official working week) just doing the planning and marking (or worrying about the planning and marking that I could be doing) when I am supposedly doing ordinary activities of daily living which other workers do when they have time off. I want to have time to sleep without feeling guilty about doing so, particularly on weekends. I want to be able to eat my lunch in peace a couple of times a week rather than do what teachers do during lunch hours. I want to go for a drive in my car on weekends without taking with me the 240 or so students' worth of essays begging for attention on the back seat of the vehicle at various times of the school term.

I don't teach full time because I've had one too many knives pointed too close to my throat and have been spat upon at least once too often by 15 year old boys who should know better.

Teaching is a stressful gig for even the most dedicated educators!

Why am I saying all this today? This afternoon, I rang one of my teaching mates, who worked, until mid-December, at a school where I no longer work full time. I rang to wish her Happy New Year but instead of ringing a woman who should have been relaxing because she has just retired, I found my friend still on edge three weeks after school broke up for the summer vacation. Why can't she relax, you ask? Two of our former teaching colleagues have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Sad, huh?

I'm even more gobsmacked to discover that rather than being totally devastated about their diagnosis and the possible implications, both teachers are relieved to have breast cancer (and other colleagues from the same school are wishing that it was contageous) because it means that they don't have to go back to school when it resumes at the end of January.

No job is worth that thought process.

None.

The Minister has supposedly been quoted as saying:

"We believe that there is nothing more valuable you can do for your nation than go into teaching and we want to reinforce that."

She has declined to commit to improving teacher salaries which would improve the profession's status, which, in turn, would improve people's perception of teachers' place in society and possibly kids' treatment of their teachers.

In this day and age, money talks. People who are valued are paid more.

The Minister, however, has indicated that she favours a system of performance pay for quality teachers that is linked to a broad range of measures. This would be negotiated with the states and territories as part of a new national education partnership.

"We want to make sure that excellent teachers are valued," she supposedly said.

I consider that statement to be an effort of splitting hairs.

The Minister is talking through her bum! She is hedging around the issue of paying all teachers more money. She needs to put dollars where her mouth is and cough up funds for drastically increased teacher salaries. She needs to put dollars where her mouth is and cough up for similar working conditions that she enjoys in her office in Parliament House (personal safety, air-conditioning, adequate space for a desk, computers which function, office supplies, resources to do her job, etc); She needs to cough up a teaching wage adequate enough to attract more men to the profession - men who can feed and educate families and pay for houses in the same time that it takes other Australians to do so.

She also needs to acknowledge that teaching is not an easy profession and that the people who do the job need more support, not a pay-by-student-results salary.

I'm going to get off my soap box, now.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Harry at 9 months


Harry's arrival - June 2008


Harry at 9 months - January 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

11 Commandments of 2009

Thou shalt have fun, above all - Fun is more important than funny.

Thou shalt laugh at thyself -The truly enlightened take themselves lightly.

Thou shalt go the extra smile - A consistent smile affirms friends and confounds enemies.

Thou shalt listen - Listen with your heart as well as your ears.

Thou shouldst expect the unexpected - Embrace surprises as opportunities.

Thou shalt challenge all assumptions - The difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

Thou shalt welcome thy mistakes - Perfectionism is a killer.

Thou shalt forgive often - It is the only way to be free.

Thou shalt remain focused, but flexible - Hold fast to principles, but be open to many paths.

Thou shalt celebrate everything always - Celebration increases gratitude.

Thou shalt not buy dessicated coconut - There's already enough in the pantry for a life time

Copyright © 2007 Bliss Davies.

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