2015-05-21

Being Useful

For the past week I have been helping my brother in law renovate their family's kitchen. 

For 15 years they have lived with the one that came with the 40 year old house - chipboard flaking, stiff drawers, single sink, rusty  oven with only one functional  hot plate. Somehow, with 3 children, life just got too busy to even contemplate doing something as major as the kitchen and they assumed it would be far too expensive and just too difficult.
 
I encouraged them and convinced them that we could do it -  we could put together the benches ourselves, call in an electrician and plumber for their parts and it could all be done in a matter of days. Now we are halfway there and the kids have been witnessing how to take on a project, as well as helping out - and experiencing that empowerment of 'doing it yourself'.

I was reminded about all the building projects in my life - in Ecuador, in Woombah and even in Mum's house, finding recycled materials and finding a way to make them all fit. There's something about resourcefulness, curiosity, practicality and determination - qualities so important and useful to our kids. And the capacity to embrace change.


But what I love the most right now is being useful to others. Perhaps it seems a little trivial compared to running campaigns to 'save the earth' - but there is a deep sense of fulfilment in being available to help the people around me  - my kids, my Mum, my sister and her family...those simple things...



2015-05-11

Mothers Day visit to Iluka



This paradise was our home. 
The wild, pristine, national park coastline was the first time and place that Pacha and Yani stood on boards catching waves – with only the wild dolphins, eagles, seagulls and pelicans (and me) looking on.
Thanks to a small club of surfers, called Iluka Boardriders, we were helped and encouraged along – borrowing boards, getting advice about staying safe in the water, connecting with others sharing a love for the ocean.
This weekend we went back, after almost 3 years, loaded with some collected boards we could now give back to the club that had helped start us off on this surfing adventure!
It was inspiring to feel the fun atmosphere, with so many kids involved (especially girls) playing games on the sand between the heats – well fed by barbeques and home-baked, healthy cookies, ‘bliss’ balls and scones.  The waves were big, clean and almost empty, the fresh autumn day stunningly beautiful, with not a cloud in the sky  – a perfect (Mothers) day!
To me, the day was also full of poignant reflection.
Reflecting about how hard I tried to do something positive in the community and how, sometimes, my intention was misunderstood.
Reflecting on the simplicity of our daily lives back then, the peace and the quiet surrounding us and the time and space that seemed to move more slowly.
Reflecting about how Pacha and Yani had improved in their surfing so dramatically over such a relatively short time while living on the Gold Coast…Despite the stress and crowded waves, their motivation to get out there and surf everyday has never waned. With some of the most skilled surfers on the planet in front of their eyes, they have been constantly inspired and challenged. Being welcomed by Snapperrocks boardriders club, making new like-minded friends, getting extra coaching and strategy to do well in competitions helps us stay ‘in the loop’ with the surfing networks.   Getting support and advice from knowledgeable people and businesses that abound in our local area, has helped Pacha and Yani surge ahead – and they still love surfing and the challenge it brings…
We are so grateful to be able to return to Iluka from time to time, to reconnect and remember. 





2015-05-06

Pacha as a ‘Social Influencer’


Over the past month our lives seem to have been speeding up - maybe it’s the same for everyone, everywhere! For us, mostly it’s because Pacha has so many things going on at once and I guess we’re having to start to get a little more ‘serious’ about her choices for her future.

About a month ago, just after her 14th birthday, a representative from Coca Cola’s marketing company contacted Pacha through her instagram page (it now has over 10K 'followers' - take a look at @pachalight)  and asked her to consider ‘collaborating’ on a marketing campaign. Pacha has been identified as a ‘social influencer’. I had to look up the definition because I didn't even know what that meant!

We were both in a bit of shock. This was big. Of all the companies to approach her, this one - one of the most ubiquitous global brands who have made billions of dollars from selling sugary drinks - came knocking on her door. 

(I had a cacophony of images bouncing around my head; the empty coke can I found in the deepest part of the Borneo jungle – two days walk from anywhere, the fully loaded coca cola truck meandering through the dirt trails into the Amazon jungle just as that black liquid oil was pumped out of the Earth from the most precious forests, the knowledge I had of the company's privatization campaigns – basically forcing  local communities ‘buy’ their own water in plastic bottles, he human and workers rights abuses,  but oh the delicious taste of a cold bottle of that soft drink after walking for two hours up hill in the hot, sticky tropical forest, the gigantic flashing lights of billboards in mega cities, the small billboards and posters plastered in the last outposts of human civilization all around the world...yep, it brought up a lot for me!)

We were curious about what a 'collaboration' actually meant. We found out that basically Pacha would be given cash for posting a photo on her instagram that, in a subtle, ‘authentic’ way, endorsed a new flavour of their soft drink.

I am so grateful that Pacha and I still talk and share everything and we could use this as an opportunity to talk about identity and the message that Pacha was promoting through her choices and the images she posts on social media. It is a huge responsibility for someone so young – with the social pressures around her strongly promoting a more consumer oriented lifestyle, or one where young girls are only of value for their ‘prettiness’ or ‘sexiness’.

Even though we have very little money and scrape together whatever we have to make sure she has the opportunity to follow her dreams – promoting soft drinks is simply not part of the way we live. 

This is part of the reply she sent to the marketing company:

'Mum and have been talking a lot about this and we've decided that it is not the right time to do a collaboration with Coca Cola right now. 
I guess I'm just getting to know myself and what type of influence I might be having through Instagram. It's pretty important to be true to myself and what I really believe in and as we don't really drink soft drinks in my family - it doesn't seem right to promote them.’

It's both exciting and daunting to think of Pacha as a ‘Social Influencer’. Most importantly it is a journey that Pacha has to navigate herself (hopefully with me sitting beside her, supporting her all the way!). It’s time to step back and hold her up in the air ready to fly on her own wings…I’m slowly getting ready to let go…

Pacha's greatest joy right now - surfing.
Opening new doors...(photo by Bacon photo)
 
Tokyo 2013 - Pacha has a strong voice!


2015-04-09

心に導かれ、子どもたちは自分の未来をつむぐ

2015年3月31日掲載分

先週末、ヤニは来年から通う地元の高校で、ミュージック・エクセレンス・プログラム※のオーデョションを受けました。(※通常のカリキュラムの他に提供されるプログラムで、選ばれた学生のみが参加し音楽の技能を磨く)

ヤニは本格的な音楽のレッスンを受けたことはありませんが、音楽が大好きで、YouTubeのビデオを見ながら独学でキーボードの弾き方をおぼえました。

私はヤニに、彼がそのプログラムに採用されるべき理由を学校への手紙に書くようにいいました。彼はこのようなことを書きました。

「ぼくの名前はヤニです。ぼくはピアノを弾くのが大好きです、なぜなら音楽はいつも自分の心にあるからです。

リズムは、どこに行っても、ひとりだと思っているときでさえ、いつでも影のようにそばいます。歩くときには、一歩ごとに違うビートが刻まれます。サーフィンをするときも、いつも頭の中をビートが巡っています。ピアノを弾くときには、ビートは音楽の音として出てくるのです。

ぼくが演奏するのは、すべての曲に意味があるから。そう、あらゆるものには目的があります。ピアノを弾くときにぼくが聴く音は、その意味と目的を奏でる音楽なのです。

ぼくはこれからもずっと音楽が大好きですし、音楽界に入っていけるように、一歩一歩ベストをつくすつもりです」。

親というのは誰でも、自分の子どものためにできる限りのことをしてやりたいと望むものです。何よりも難しいのは、彼らのために自分が取る選択肢が正しいものだという絶対の確信をもつこと。

子どもたちのありのままの自己と真の情熱をサポートできるのは、親として最もワクワクすることであり、これまで音楽のレッスンやそうしたチャンスといったものにお金を払うことができなくて時につらい思いをしてきました。 


しかし、彼らはどうにかして自分の道を見いだしていくものです。夢を追いけかけながら、自分自身を発見しながら、そして未来につながる自分の道をつくることができるのは彼らなのだということを受け入れながら。

【翻訳:小形メグム】

2015-03-31

パチャの「アンプラグ」でエコな誕生日祝い

2015年3月12日掲載分

ごみを拾うことはいいことです。私たちはいつもやっています…でも、ごみを全く出さないようにすることは、それよりももっと良いことです!

パチャが最近14歳になったとき、私たちは、ごみを生み出さない、エコな誕生日のお祝いにしようと最善を尽くし、彼女の友達もそれを意に介していないようでした。

キャンディーもなく、フルーツ(と少しのチョコレート)とナッツだけでした。ビニルの風船はなく、自家製の布の旗があるだけでした。使い捨てのプラスチックのコップやお椀はなく、木製のお椀と家から持ってきた再利用品のコップを使いました。

手作りの寿司は美味しく、健康的で食べやすかったです。自家製のかぼちゃを主体にしたケーキは、バナナの葉を四角く敷いた上に出されると、若いサーファーの男の子・女の子たちが、伝統的な誕生日の歌を歌った後、鴎の群れのように飛びついてあっという間になくなってしまいました。

その日のハイライトは、パチャも同感だと思いますが、みんながそのあたりに生えている名もない野生の「雑草」で、花の王冠(レイ)を作ってくれたことでした。ハワイの素敵な友人であるレイオナは、女の子たちに対し、どのように草花を選び、編み合わせ、つなげていくかということや、草と繊細な花の最も美しい組み合わせについて教えてあげました。そのことは、身の回りの全てのものに(ほとんどの人が無用な雑草としか見ないたいしたことない花にも)美しさを見出すことにいかに役立ったか、驚くべきことでした。

女の子たち(と親友であるカノンと一緒のヤニ)は、穏やかに座って、お互いに手伝ったり、話をしたり、各自が頑張った作品を比較したり、ほめたり、写真を撮ったりしていました。彼らは、ほんの数百メートル先で偶然行われていたサーフィンの国際ツアー大会を見に行く時、自作のレイを自慢げに身につけていました。今後パーティーの際は、より多くの「レイの輪」ができるだろうという気がします!


今年、パチャは、いつもと少し違う、若干独創的なことができて誇らしげに見えました。彼女は、私たちが成し遂げられたこと、即ち、気前よくお金を使うのではなく、エコで「アンプラグな(社会の「当たり前」から一歩ひいた)」誕生日のお祝いにとても感謝していました。

【翻訳:平戸実生】

Children weave their futures - guided by heart...



Last weekend Yani 'auditioned' for the music excellence program at the local highschool he will be going to next year.

Yani has never had a formal music lesson - but he loves music and has taught himself to play the keyboard by watching youtube videos.

I asked him to write a letter to the school explaining why he should be allowed to enter the program. Here are some of his words:

"Hi my name is Yani and I love to play the piano because music is always in my mind.

Rhythm is every where I go like a shadow it's always there even when you think your alone when I walk I always have a different beat in every step, when I surf there's always a beat stuck in my head and when I play the piano the beats just come out in the sounds of the music.

I play because every song has a meaning  - everything has a purpose. When I play the piano the sound I hear is the music of meaning and purpose.

I will always love music and try my best in every step I go in the music world. "

All parents want the best for their children. The hardest thing is to feel absolutely certain that the choices you make for them are the right ones.

Being able to support their authentic selves and their true passions is one of the most exciting things about being a parent and it has sometimes been hard not being able to pay for things like music lessons and other opportunities.

Yet, somehow, they find their own way - following their dreams, discovering themselves, understanding that they are the ones who can create their own path to the future.


2015-03-17

人生を陽気に生きる気持ちを共有!

2015年2月24日掲載分

夜明け直後、私はゴールドコーストの我が家に近いスナッパーロックスで、荒々しく波打つ海を眺めて座っています。

 ガブリエル・メディナ、ステファニー・ギルモア、ミック・ファニング、ジョエル・パーキンソン…など、サーフィンの世界チャンピオンたちが通り過ぎていきます。熱帯のサイクロン「マーシャ」が潮に影響を与えたために、申し分ない波が果てしなく押し寄せるので、彼らは興奮とやる気に満ちています。

世界的なサーフィンの大会である「クイックシルバープロ/ロキシープロ」の会場建設準備が進行中ですが、砕ける波を背景にすると、その足場は貧弱で不十分なものに見えます。

競技であろうとなかろうと、こういったサーファーは、海とつながっていたいという自分たちの魂の叫びにつき動かされているのです。それも然るべきで、そうでなくてどうして、毎日毎日、晴れていても、雨の日でも、寒くても暑くても、風が強くても、海へ戻ることがあるでしょうか。このようなサーフィンばかりの人生は、もはや単なるスポーツではなく、精神的な世界の道を辿ることだと言えます。

昨日は、サイクロンが海岸沿いを進んでいたので、子供たちは学校を休むという選択肢も与えられました。

パチャは、満潮時には波が防波堤を越えて来る、身を隠していれば強力な波が襲い掛かるような感覚を模擬体験できる場所へ、友達を誘って出かけました。今日、その時の写真が「子供たちがサーフィンを楽しむ危険性」という見出しで全国的なニュースとして配信されていました。その後、その写真は世界中に発信されたと聞きました。

パチャと彼女の友達は、むしろいかに人生を目いっぱい生きるかを世界に見せてくれたと思います。うきうきした気分や海と嵐の力に浸る彼女たちは、つまりは、謙虚な姿勢で命の危険を冒すこと無く自然と接する方法を知っていたのです。彼女たちは、何が危険でどこで線を引くかを心の底から知っています。何年もほとんど毎日のように海の状態を観察し、それに応じて行動してきたのですから。私は自分の子供たちを信頼していますし、いのちというものを信頼しています。子供たちは極端な世界に生きていて、恐怖によって支配されるのではなく、楽しさが与えられる道を選びながら、何とかして生き延び、力強く生き抜く道を探さなければなりません。

本当の情熱的なサーファーとは、もしかしたら、将来の不安定な時代を渡り行くための能力に最も秀でた人かもしれません。「権力」による指令に従い自らの力や理性を諦めるよりも、むしろ謙虚であり、信頼し、自分自身の強みと内なる導きに従おうとする人たちです。私たちにとって最良の導き手は、いつでも自然であり、それは自然との関係の中でみつかるものなのです。

【翻訳:平戸実生】

2015-03-12

Pacha’s ‘Unplugged’ Eco-Birthday Celebration


It’s good to pick up rubbish - we do it all the time…
But it’s even better to try not to produce any!

When Pacha recently turned 14 we did our best to create an Eco-birthday rubbish free celebration, and her friends didn’t seem to mind!

There were no lollies – just fruit (and a little bit of chocolate!) and nuts. There were no plastic balloons – just home made fabric flags (bunting).  There were no throw-away plastic cups or bowls – we had wooden bowls and re-used the cups we brought from home.

The handmade sushi was delicious and healthy and easy to eat. The home made pumpkin-based cake was served on squares of banana leaf and disappeared quickly as the hordes of ‘grom’ surfer boys and girls descended like a flock of seagulls after singing the traditional birthday song.
Lei's lovely Lei's (and photos)
The highlight of the day - I think Pacha would agree - was everyone making beautiful flower crowns (Leis) from locally foraged wildflower ‘weeds’. Leiona, my lovely Hawaiian friend, showed the girls how to choose and weave and thread and the most beautiful combinations of grasses and delicate flowers. It was amazing how it helped us to see the beauty all around us - even in insignificant flowers that most people just see as useless weeds.
The girls (and Yani with his best friend Cannon) sat peacefully, helping each other, sharing stories, comparing and complimenting each other on their efforts, taking photos of each other’s creations. They wore their Lei’s with pride as they went to watch the world tour surfing even happening just a few hundred metres away.  I have a feeling there will be more ‘Lei’ circles at parties to come!

This year Pacha seemed proud to be a little different, a little unconventional. She was so appreciative of what we could do – without lavish expense - in an ‘up-plugged’ birthday eco-celebration!  
 
Pacha's 'Unplugged' surfing life.