~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

Creating wearable Empowerment Art…

Posted by carolom on February 13, 2017

 Bead Happy Empowerment Art  is an ART of Change  program for Women who have experienced violence.

We hand roll  beads  from air drying clay to create an empowerment necklace. Meeting over 3 sessions at the Shelter,   participants shape their beads based on a Vision they hold for the future or as an expression of  strength and developing a clear, confident  sense of Self and identity etc.

When  the personal vision  beads are dry we paint them and give them life, colour and vibrancy. Das clay is  quick drying and a very hardy medium that is not heavy once it has dried.
The rolling of the clay and shaping the beads is a very relaxing process,a form of open eyed meditation that  is very conducive for learning and relaxation.

The Bead Happy Empowerment Art project engages two significant aspects – process and completion, which are often difficult to attain for people who are living with post traumatic stress and the effects of violence, losing ones home and coping with injuries and grief.

The talking circle format is a very relaxed, creative  environment .

This informal setting  is often more culturally relevant for many of the participants from CALD backgrounds. (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse).

The environment does not have a counsellor – client dynamic. It is an empowering model that facilitates conversation  beyond pain and issues to the place of connecting with personal power, natural talent and new possibilities.

We celebrate personal strength and explore the potential we have to move beyond limitations and the impact of domestic violence.

Thank you to the Women who have shared their work in the images below.

Although they remain anonymous in the photos, the very personal stories and amazing creativity that is expressed through the clay and the beading process  affirms to me how privileged I am to provide art based life coaching at the grass roots, community level where so many amazing women have extraordinary stories to share.

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We roll the beads from air drying clay

 

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As we roll and then sand them we are holding the vision of our goals and aspirations

 

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Spraying the Bead Happy Empowerent Necklace seals in the vision and stengthens the clay

 

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Every bead, every necklace is as unique as the fingerprints of the woman who created them as she  pressed her vision into the clay

Carol Omer is a certified Life Coach and Artist. She specialises in creativity based empowerment and healing programs for women. She is the author of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book, a life coaching colouring book for women.

http://www.CarolOmer.com

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Posted in ART of Change, Domestic Violence, Sisterhood, Transformation, Uncategorized, White Ribbon | Leave a Comment »

The Warrior Woman template as a life coaching & community development tool

Posted by carolom on January 7, 2017

As a life coach and  empowerment artist working in the areas of domestic violence and cultural diversity I recognise that creativity, art, story, song, dance and music are the tools and activities that affirm women’s strengths and interconnectedness regardless of our cultural background.

Engaging with art in a communal setting creates a place where we can celebrate our connections and share the richness of the stories and experiences that define our cultural and individual uniqueness.

I am very appreciative to the women who attended a  Women’s ART of Change  Empowerment & Life Coaching Camp and allowed us to photograph some of the sessions. By doing so we can share the powerful message that sharing and creating together is the answer to crossing the cultural and language barriers that can prevent women from coming together.

When women from CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) settings engage with this form of  life coaching tools they are able to express their unique culture as expressed through the templates that are the equivalent of the hand outs and power point presentations in most  training environments.

Art and creative expression is a unifying medium across all cultures and a powerful medium for sharing our stories and expressing our vision for the future.

We had a Warrior Woman’s Empowerment Workshop on camp. From black and white templates, the Warrior Woman is created…

The Warrior Woman…
Her head~dress represents developing the power of the mind to overcome obstacles and adversity. Cultivating thought patterns and mental focus for creating the life we envisage for our selves and our children.

Her large heart symbolises the importance of remaining compassionate and connected to others whilst not being overwhelmed by the d.v cycle of promises and repetitive abuse. This is especially significant when recovering from domestic violence as safe personal boundaries are core to keeping the family safe.

Her wings remind us that our mental well being and health requires  balance in our emotions, mind, physical and social health.

Introducing the Warrior Women theme for the day:

Phoenix Woman was created as a way to express changes that came about through trials and difficulties.

Stories of the past and stories of the children’s future are shared as we create the warrior woman.

Two communities came together on the 2nd day of the camp.

Patty created her Warrior Woman’s Headress using spirals of wool…

Sisters…We are all the same within regardless of the skin we are in..

Posted in Aboriginal, Art, Australia, CALD Women, Change, Community, Creativity, Imagination, Life Coaching, Lifes Stories, Love, Peace, Social Artistry, The Art of Change, Transformation, Warrior Women, Wisdom | Leave a Comment »

Moving beyond Building Bridges

Posted by carolom on October 18, 2016

The Mandorla

Unity in commUnity CarolOmer

During  almost three decades of working in human services, I have seen the term  building bridges gain  popularity.

Its a powerful metaphor. Bridges exist in all countries and transcend cultural barriers. The image of a bridge requires no  explanation.  The image speaks the intent.

We are crossing over, transcending the distance between us.

l am leaving my side of the bank and arriving at yours and We are no longer limited by the circumstances  that separate us.

It isn’t  surprising that both the visual image and the language of bridge building has  become an effective analogy, a visual metaphor  for getting along with our neighbor, resolving issues and conflict and  walking into new territory together, our differences transcended,  bridged by understanding and change.

A few years ago I came across a symbol that captivated my attention and spoke to my ‘inner bridge-builder’ with a clear message that bridge building, no matter how well intended, has its origins in the dual paradigms  of separation and difference.

The symbol that stetched my perception is called a Mandorla.

The word is Italian for Almond and that is the shape that is created when two circles over lap.


When we are developing a process that involves building a bridge, we begin from a point of separation and strategise  how to transcend the distance between myself and the other, us and them by seeking to unite two distinctly separated sides.

With the Mandorla we can see that  two whole and complete circles retain their unique identity and between them create a new, unified  space where those two circles meet.

The place  where we are already connected.

This is the place where  we all share commonalities and experience our pre-existing connection.

We breathe the same air, we have the same needs for food, shelter and warmth. As human beings we share a mutal need for safety, love, belonging, purpose and a need for meaningful stories and sense of place in the world.

These are core human needs that form the foundation of families and communities across the planet, regardless of the different cultural, economic or political circumstances of where we live in the  place we call home.

If I am facilitating a workshop for  young offenders in juvenile detention or visiting a rural Aboriginal Community for a womens camp, the Mandorla affirms our connection.

I am not entering  their community or communal space  wondering how I can build a bridge between us, instead I show them my Mandorla poster (see below) and ask if we can spend a bit of time looking at where we are connected.

Once we get past the obvious we are all humans, a whole range of possible  shared experiences and commonalities come forth. You are left handed like I am   / My football team is  /  I share your same views on racism / how can we make a difference together?

As we explore our commonalities we also look at the space outside of the Mandorla, that large expanse of the two separate components of the intersected circles.

This is the place where we learn from one another, a place where our differences are recognised within the experience and recognition  of our connection and not as somewhere we need to get to by crossing the bridge of our differences.

I created a poster for the ART of Change program  to  show my interpretation of the Mandorla.

I always show the poster with the wildly enthusiastic expectation  that when  people learn about the possibilities of Mandorla for the first time they too will have an ah-ha! moment and realise that the time we spend thinking about, talking about & building bridges  is time taken away from sitting  in the Mandorla of our connection & sharing in the joy of learning & growing together through one another’s Stories.

I came up with another way of expressing the Mandorla and it goes like this:

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Posted in Building Bridges, Change, Community, Creativity, Human Rights, Jean Houston, Journeys, Mandorla, Peace, Social Artistry, Stories, Transformation, Unity, Wisdom | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Ode to the Rescuer

Posted by carolom on September 15, 2016

*Updated
This poem is dedicated to the many women, especially those who I meet in domestic violence shelters, who really do believe:

If I just keep on loving him, he will change & we will have the relationship that I know is possible…

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We hear the words “I thought he would change” so often inside of the walls of domestic violence shelters that I created the following dramatisation for our Talking circle so that the group of women who have sometimes had 2 or 3 relationships with violent men, could begin to unravel what keeps them there and how to recognise the pattern.

The following piece is not relevant for all women who leave domestic violence, but for those women who sit in support groups and say “I believed him when he said he would change” and “He is a really nice guy, he just had a rotten childhood”, this piece is for you.
And for Janet who was killed in domestic violence by a man who then killed himself, leaving four beautiful children behind.

Ode to the Rescuer:

There was something very appealing about his pain, it matched her pattern perfectly
and her pattern goes like this:

Give me a damaged man with potential and I will embrace him as my life mission
My personal quest!

I will claim myself to be his Rescuer and through my eyes he will see how sorely he has been denied Love

And with the love of this Good Woman, he will heal!

He will heal
He will heal
He will heal

With the peace of mind that I alone have brought to him, delivered to him on a sincere heart that pulses with conviction, his heart shall finally, after many troubled years finally beat with contentment in symbiotic rhythm with my own

Ahh..this future memory brings tears to my eyes and reminds me to be patient and the reward will come.
Of this truth I have created, I am sure.
He will change
He will change
He will change
I shall interpret his moodiness as poetic brooding,
his sarcasm as merely the shadow of his enormous artistic sensitivities and
his broken promises as the unfortunate repercussions of a busy, preoccupied man.
I shall deny myself my heart’s desires,
less they place too much of a burden on his already busy mind.
I shall desperately seduce him into security with words thinly veiled
with the false reassurance that I want nothing of him
After all he is the broken one
Not me!
I will prove to him that I am the one single woman
on this Earth who can heal his troubled Soul.
Because I believe in him like no other has in the past
or could possibly at any time in the future
As the rescue program gets under way I will slowly begin to allow
the duality of the situation to come to the fore
Actually I won’t have a choice!
Having ensnared him with my rescuers net
or having fallen into his
I shall wrestle with the duality of being drawn to his charismatic withdrawals
whilst also experiencing an awakening awareness
that he is indeed mirroring my own need to heal and rescue the wounded heart.
There is something painfully seductive about that wounded heart after all it’s in all of the fairytales and rom-com’s isn’t it?
Love that Beast fair Beauty for he will come good in the end!
In order to ignore the needs of my own hopeful
desperate
optimistic
aching
wounded heart
I will plunge into my rescuing role with paradox and passion
for I am drawn to the angst of tortured feelings
which I have misconstrued as Romance and Love
as haplessly as he is drawn to his broody silences
and the acidic observations he casts out to bait me every now and then.
And quite regularly at times.
And yes. He has hit me in the past but the degree to which he is so truly deeply sorry overwhlems me with compassion for him.
Every time.
Every single time.
Except the last three times when I only felt fear and loathing,
But I got over that!
Didn’t I?
Didn’t I?

or Did !?

Words that forge our bond like who else would put up with you or me and
we were meant for one another, we are as bad as each other
will be the hypnotic sound track of the saga of our co-dependence

He will be my co-star as my life unfolds according to the stories I believe
Stories that I have created, many that have piggy backed onto the romantic tales of how the good girl transforms the bad boy with exquisite mastery and tears.
Fictional stories that I will defend as
Love!

Alas it is a tired old script with no surprises in the Story whatsoever!

but it will take me a long time to understand that
to reinterpret and rewrite the lead roles
because most of this is new to me!

And I am a stranger to myself.

Indeed aren’t we all until we remember who we really are?

Therefore I will need quite some time to realise any of this
as this predictable Olde Story unfolds on a roller coaster of
drama and desire
yearning and conflict

Those old scenarios and inevitable cycles replaying themselves in the guise of Love.

Love?

No this is just unlearnt lessons in re-enactment!
I will come to realise this one day
though I do not know that yet of course!

Although my heart does skip a beat when he looks at me in that certain seductive kind of way
Surely that must be Love?

Though you may well think I am making a banquet from a few crumbs of moments of hard earned intimacy
You are wrong of course!
Wrong
Wrong
Wrong

I know this banquet will be rich in the fruits of my desires so long as I am patient.
I will be Patient
will be Patient
will be Patient

My mantras give my life meaning and hope
They really do
Really really they do.

In the meantime I will deny that the toxins of this relationship are causing me great harm.
Souring my naiveté.
Poisoning the sweetness of my illusions whilst I continue to defend his lack of friendliness and warmth as justified

The increasing violence as a sign
that his love for me is so much he can barely handle the intensity!
I understand that and why he is violent
on account of the awful things he went through as a child.
The unresolved issues with his difficult father
The conflict with his troubled mother

There was just so much trouble that went into creating his troubled life
that I share

I am perhaps the only one who really knows that
and understands him and LOVES him
The only one

The lonely one

BUT

Love will conquer all. I think I am sure of that!

There is only one fixed rule in all of this apparent uncertainty
And this the rule I made and now obey:
I must Love him no matter how hard he is to Love.

I will Love him unconditionally
will Love him unconditionally
will Love him unconditionally

This one rule will make it all wonderful one day because

He will open up
He will open up
He will open up

Ultimately of course I will deny myself the right to move forward, to reach my fullest potential because I will be anchored defiantly to our co-dependence and staunchly courageously

desperately

refer to it as
Love!

This is what I know Love to be.

The End

I dedicate this to my lifelong friend Janet 1959 -2001 who was killed by her husband who then killed himself.

Your life mattered Janet, your stories are important to be told. I miss you dearly my friend.

Carol Omer
Certified Life Coach
Author of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book

Posted in Change, Chaos, Childhood, Co-dependence, Denial, Domestic Violence, Drama, Fear, Journeys, Letting go, Lifes Stories, Love, Men and Women, Poetry, Relationships, Sisterhood, Transformation, Unrequited Love, Wisdom, Women | 9 Comments »

When things turn up and make you smile …

Posted by carolom on September 6, 2016

This is a true story and it began this morning when I was preparing to go for a morning walk.

I could not find a second hair clip and rather than waste time looking I decided to go with a hair clip and a hair grip ( as Mum used to call them). I had already lost half an hour to emails so I didn’t want to waste any more time!

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It is Spring time in our part of the world and  the Jasmine vines, my very favourite flower, are bursting with new life. There was a massive flowering vine hanging over the edge of fence in one of the very old lane ways and I picked some but as I was only half way through my walk I thought I wish I had brought a bag with me…

I exited the lane way into a car park and there, on the edge of the car park  was a lone shopping trolley with a bright pink,  empty bag sitting in it.

No car nearby.

No people to be seen.
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This must be my bag! 

I smiled as I put the Jasmine inside and reflected on how sometimes there is great power in our throw away thoughts. We throw them out into the ether, often thousands of thoughts in a single day  and sometimes they boomerang back to us wrapped around a prize  catch created by the matter of fact nature of our thoughts !
Did you know that often the things that matter in those matter of fact moments can  matter’ialise when we least expect it?

I arrived home, took the beautifully perfumed Jasmine from the bag and placed the flowers in  Mums  old ceramic boot vase that she made many years ago.

Since Mum passed away  last year I treasure every single thing she made and there are many art and craft creations she lovingly made over the years.

For example that is one of her knitted dolls hats on her manikin that is embracing mine.

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I am an avid student of the power of the mind and our role as co-creators with life but there was no way I could have guessed what was in the bottom of what I thought was a completely  empty bag!

Here it is! A second hair clip!

Exactly  the same as the one I was looking for before going with the hair grip instead.

 

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Hand on heart this extra bit of Magic just kind of made my day! As the late and wonderful Dr Wayne Dyer wrote You’ll see it when you Believe it!

I definitely believe in the Magic of life!

I don’t know how the empty pink bag ended up sitting in an empty trolley in a near empty car park and I would happily return it to its’ owner if there was identifying information in there.
But then again it is quite possible it just turned up because I thought I wish I had brought a bag with me  and before that I need that hair clip, my fringe is in my eyes…

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She walks alone at Midnight…or does She?

Posted by carolom on August 17, 2016

I went outside at midnight to round up Junipurr and Purrly.

At the end of my driveway a woman was walking past.

She said : “What are you doing out so late?” and I said:
“I’m calling my cats in, what are you doing out walking so late?”.

“Oh I don’t sleep much these days. I often walk at night.

My son died 5 years ago. I haven’t slept much since”.

It was one of those unexpected moments where everything in the world funnels down into this one encounter with a stranger.

Junipurr ran towards us, his bell jingling with vibrancy and gorgeousness, so full of life and vitality.

“I am so sorry for your loss. The world isn’t the same anymore is it? My Mum died last year.”

I know this because since Mum died it feels like the doors and windows are permanently open and drafts and winds blow in at anytime of the day or night.

But I know that losing a child is not the same as losing your Mother. It’s a different kind of pain because I’ve seen it in my friends C’s eyes.

“He was only 20.” She said this twice.

” See that star up there, the bright one. That’s him”.

I realised that’s why she walks at night alone. She isn’t alone at all.

5 minutes before my biggest concern was a failed creative project I had been working on for hours.

It was a moment that completely reorganised my thoughts and perspective from the personal to the Universal.

“I’m truly sorry for your loss”…I couldn’t find any better words. I would have liked to have.

“Thank you. And I’m sorry for yours”.

“It makes you wonder why we are here” she said.

She walked off into the cold but very clear and crisp night and I came inside with my kitty-cats.

I went out 10 minutes later to see if she was walking back. Maybe a coloring book would help.

But the street was empty.

This song is for all of the Mothers who are living in the world without their children.

 

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When a Throw-away line Casts a Wide Net. MagNETic!

Posted by carolom on August 17, 2016

Sometimes it’s the throw-away lines of our mental chatter that have the attractor factor.

I listened to an interview with one of my favourite authors, Norman Doidge who wrote the fabulous book The Brain that Changes Itself.
A must read for anyone interested in neuroscience and neuroplasticity and the extinction of the dinosaur belief that the brain is hard wired and can not be changed.

“Once broken can never be repaired” paradigm is sailing away across the oceans of the flat world as we speak… 😉

In the interview with Dr Doidge there was mention of his new book published by penguin in 2016 “The Brains way of Healing”.

I thought “Would love to read it, will check with library” but forgot to check and book it when I got home.

Three days later strolling around 2nd hand store and there is a brand new 2016 copy of “The Brains Way of Healing’ sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to notice it.

And I did.

How did this newly released $30 book arrive in perfect condition on the shelves of a second hand store for $2.99 just a few months after it’s release and three days after my intention to read it?

Throw-away lines sometimes cast the widest net perhaps….

 

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Words-Swords and the Emergence of Impersonal Language in Human Services

Posted by carolom on July 29, 2016

The following is an excerpt from my unedited draft of The ART of Change memoir. The names and details have been changed as a matter of confidentiality however the impact of language that empowers the worker  or the academic whilst disempowering the recipient of those words is a significant problem across human services and the legal system.

Words Cast Spells

Words ~Swords on the Cutting Edge.

The language and politics of homelessness and social work theories and practices changed many times over the years that I worked in homeless and domestic violence shelters.

Buzz words came and went as words like empowerment, agency, self determination and the words consumer and stakeholders replaced shelter resident and workers crept into human services through out the 90’s.

People stopped ‘talking’ and entered into dialogue, we would no longer ‘catch up for a chat’, we would debrief with one another and instead of ‘talking about things’ like we did in the old days   we would be invited to unpack complex issues and investigate multifaceted causes that underpin marginalisation and disenfranchisement.

With each new turn of phrase the culture of homelessness and service provision changed.

Discussions about the importance of using ‘professional’ language were bandied about during training sessions and statements we would have once made like ‘I think  the family is doing it really hard right now’ were spoken by the new young social workers as It seems that the high and complex needs as a result of the multiple issues facing the family as a unit will require external intervention and on going support to be put in place.

Many social workers and counsellors, health workers and researchers came in and out of the shelter on a weekly basis and the newspeak and jargon was so pervasive at times that we would chuckle as one of our residents, when asked if she had met her new social worker would say: “Yes, she seems okay but I can’t understand what she is saying”.

When offering support to a heart broken, confused teenage mother, our staff might say amongst ourselves ‘she needs a hug and to know she is loved’ or it’s a shame her mother has too many of her own issues to be able to support her daughter. Those internal state altering, mood changing words were nowhere to be seen in the mountainous pile of service agreements and policy documents.

Reassuring an upset teenager with a hug may be considered inappropriate and unprofessional. Physical contact had become almost outlawed in a society traumatised and made paranoid by the horror stories of paedophiles and child molesters. There was a vast new language landscape  that accompanied the hyper vigilant (freaked out) policies.  Terms such as non-physical client engagement and maintaining professional integrity and non self disclosure was the cultural indoctrination for the new generation of social workers and counsellors.

At times the newest theories and current research findings were far more complex and controversial than the complicated lives of the people whose lives they were designed to improve!

The distance and differences between grass roots service delivery in shelters and the academic institutions that conducted research into the lives of homeless people was so vast that our role as shelter staff was to be an interpreter of the newspeak as it gushed out of the government departments, and landed in the lives of the young women who spoke a very different language, developed from within a very different reality than the world of academics and researchers.

I came face to face with an adaptation of the newspeak in the late 90’s. I was visiting a member of SAYM (Strength As Young Mothers) who was living  in our outreach accommodation. Rosie had the great misfortune to have been born into a volatile and abusive family who had inflicted neglect and violence on her through out her childhood. She had  a shattered self concept, outraged ego and hair-trigger temper that could erupt anywhere at any time, especially when she had to deal with people in authority. Her anti-authority trigger might include anyone from a   bank teller to the social security staff and it definitely included the midwives at the hospital where she gave birth to her daughter. People she thought looked at her the wrong way in supermarkets, especially older women who she thought were judging her, would be on the receiving end of Rosie’s wrath. Both of Rosie’s parents were in and out of jail throughout her childhood and her family were well known to many government departments, including correctional services, welfare and the education department.

Under the surface of her volatile and recalcitrant behaviour there was a bright, funny, thoughtful young woman who was a very quick learner. She had been identified as having learning difficulties and ‘behavioural challenges’ during her school years, labels that followed her from class room to class room. Rosie had a reputation as a disruptive and difficult student and she made sure to live up to the way she was perceived!

It was very apparent that Rosie’s perceived learning difficulties were most likely a result of the relentless stress and chaos of her family home and her many trips in and out of foster care every time one of her parents went to jail. Her bright mind and astute grasp of new environments kept her afloat amidst the chaos of her family life but her reputation and the limitations of the education system to accommodate and nurture traumatised and volatile students meant that she spent her entire school years repeating the negative behaviours she learnt in her family home – and developing some new ones of her own. She left school at 14 and I am sure more than one or two teachers would have breathed a sigh of relief to be free of her hot temper and disruptive class room dramas.

It was no surprise to her social workers and former teachers that Rosie had her first baby at 16 and her second two years later.

There is an old saying ‘you become an expert at whatever you practice… so be careful what you practice’ and like many of the young women who came to our shelter, Rosie had great expertise in enlisting social workers, youth workers and counsellors to help her to get food vouchers, taxi vouchers, Christmas hampers and other kinds of assistance that is available to people in need. Her family had lived on welfare for several generations and Rosie had inside knowledge on getting the most out of the system that she was born into.

On this particular day she was trying to convince me to give her a taxi voucher from our very limited resources so that she could travel to the northern suburbs to catch up with an old friend. She didn’t like using public transport and would often end up arguing with strangers when she was out and about. Conflict was so deeply ingrained in Rosie’s mind that it was inevitable she would find it – or create it –where ever she went and putting all analysis aside, who wouldn’t prefer to catch a free a taxi rather than enduring a hot bus trip to the other side of town?

During her time at the shelter, Rosie had learnt that, unlike with some of the less experienced social workers and younger youth workers she had been allocated over the years, she couldn’t manipulate the shelter staff. We weren’t intimidated by her outbursts or threats to report us to human services for treating her unfairly. Like many of the young women in the shelter who had learnt to use aggression instead of assertiveness and believed that life victimised them over and over, it took many months before we developed the degree of trust that is necessary for a partnership on the journey of change. We kept our rules constant and allowed her to return to the groups after an outburst or dramatic exit and for someone who was very familiar with inconsistency and rejection the firmness accompanied by friendliness eventually allowed her to settle down and think about her future for the first time. The other young mothers weren’t impressed by her disruptive behaviour in the group room and the mirror of Rosie’s peers and their influence reflected far more to her than the staff of ‘geriatric grannies’ as she once called us with a dismissive slam of the door.

Rosie had been pleading her case for a taxi voucher, for almost half an hour. She lived on a direct bus route, the bus stop was half a block away and the weather was sunny and fine. I wasn’t prepared to give her a voucher, preferring to keep it for more important needs such as assisting a pregnant woman to get to the hospital or a mother with a sick toddler to go to the doctors. Rosie could see that her battle for the free taxi ride was just about lost when she drew her last resort weapon to the fight.

“Carol I need that taxi voucher cause it’s important for me to maintain my social networks.  I am marginalised cause I am a single mother. I am socially isolated in the community and my social worker told me I need to integrate more and explore new options. It’s not just a taxi voucher you know, I’m not just trying to scam a free ride, it’s a social justice issue cause I need to see my friends”.

Rosie’s words took me completely by surprise. I was both delighted by her new strategy and highly suspicious of her motive. She demonstrated that by adopting the language of her oppressors, she believed she stood a much better chance of getting what she wanted and whilst it didn’t get her the taxi voucher she was lobbying for, it was a very levelling moment that show cased how astute Rosie was in spite of the myriads of case notes, files, police reports and hospital records that stated the opposite.

I kept our taxi voucher and gave Rosie a lift out to the northern suburbs delighted to reward her sharp mind and creative use of the gobbledegook that had surrounded her since the first day welfare authorities began to interpret who she was and what she was capable of, tattooing her tragic history in files and reports through out her precious growing years.

 

I Choose My Words

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Casting Shadows

Posted by carolom on June 23, 2016

I was walking along a path  that is also  bicycle track in a park on the edge of the city this morning and in spite of the school and heading to work traffic I suddenly experienced a sense of vulnerability. The trees and bushes obscured the path from the main road and my imagination created a scenario based on stories in the news.
My work in domestic violence shelters has created a heightened sense of awareness of the vulnerability of women although many of my friends  will say they are alert to danger in some public places.
These thoughts were not my preferred rumination on a pleasant, brisk winters walk but as I began to refocus them, my own shadow caught my eye as its stretched out before me.

I was reminded of Robert Johnson’s illuminating book Owning your Own Shadow- Understanding the Dark side of the Psyche and what a pivotal moment it was when I read it many years ago.

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I was so immersed in contemplating the shadow and observing my own thinking about how it plays out in people’s lives  that I didn’t hear the footsteps behind me until a shadow unexpectedly imposed itself over  my own, making me jump and turn around, eyes widened by a rush of adrenalin.

A woman’s voice said Oh, I ‘m sorry.I thought that might happen. Good thing you are not a karate person. And there standing in front of me were the sources of the shadow that crossed my path.Harley and Shanti. Two beautiful, friendly happy little souls who were walking without their lead and were so very excited to see a new friend on their walkway they had bounded up to me to say hello!

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I explained to the woman that I had been thinking about shadows and domestic violence and had just taken a photo of my elongated shadow. She said Gee, it’s really long isn’t it?

It was obvious that these thoughts were a long way from her morning walk.

We parted ways at the traffic lights, Harley and Shanti now happily on their leads, wagging their tails and leaving me to ponder about the tale I had been wagging on the beautiful, sunny  crisp winters morning walk, where between our three shadows, mine was most definitely the longest…

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The “N” word and the A,B,C of racism here in Australia.

Posted by carolom on June 21, 2016

*Dedicating this updated post to Nova Peris today after the man who sent her messages with these words in them, pleaded guilty:

 

The Intergenerational Impact of Australia’s Racist History

I have often thought that those divisive, racist terms, Australia’s equivalent to the word,  the ABC of racism, have not been publicly outed here in Australia.

It’s as if those derisive names and derogatory terms have gone underground yet still live and perpetuate in the collective psyche today, erupting occasionally but generally not aired or brought to the light of public discussion and transformation.

I pre-empt the following with an apology to those who are offended.  In the context of the word discussion it is important that we acknowledge the toxic, pervasive impact of the words abo, boong & coon and the inference of the superiority of one group by the demonising of another.   Dehumanising words that  were instilled in the post European settlement consciousness  of  this country.

As a migrant child in the  60’s hearing the adults use the terms in a derisive, mocking, disdainful manner transmitted their racist origins down through the generations and their legacies are alive and breathing long after the first people who uttered them have gone.

That old adage that you can’t heal it until you claim it is as relevant when discussing collective language and divisive stereotyping as it is when discussing personal  mental, emotional and spiritual wounds.

It is the very early days of recovery from the violence of colonisation in this country and naming and accepting responsibility for the impact of the language of Australia’s history of apartheid that was linguistically coded into our schoolyards and policies in very recent times, is another step in the healing process and journey of restorative justice.

An Aboriginal Woman said to me recently: Unless you have experienced it, a person could never know what it feels like to have your culture, your tribe and community demonised to the point where just the word “Aborigine” triggers fear, distrust and loathing in people who have never even sat down with us and had a yarn.

Australia’s history of colonisation, which was an invasion into an occupied country whose inhabitants had   highly sophisticated systems of governance & environmental practices, is the story of many first nations people right across the globe. Domination, theft, rape, genocide, kidnapping of children and loss of language and identity and the slow and painful inter-generational recovery for a nation of people living in the post traumatic state.

I sometimes wonder if people outside of Australia are aware that there are uniquely Australian counterparts to that loathesome and highly political word “nigger’

They are words that imprison the innocent and are not discussed openly  in Australia or made accountable for the role that they have played in demonising one race in order to serve the agenda of another.

Deep within the psyche and at the fore front of many people’s thinking & belief systems, the ABC – abo, boong and coonof Australia’s shameful & very recent past is still very much alive and breathing  a fresh generation of racism despite progress being made in some areas of Reconciliation and healing.

This is what the women in our Aboriginal Women’s Healing groups have told me over and over and when an Aboriginal grandmother is standing at the bus stop with her three grandchildren and a car full of teenagers drives by and calls out boongs, it is evidence that the virus of racism is still beng transmitted in Austraia today.

Click here to read “The Virus” – a story of how racism is ‘caught’ in the schoolyard…

Definition of boong in the Urban Dictionary reveals the derogatory intent of the term:Urban dictionary Definition of ‘boong’

Many Warriors are still in chains.

For more on this topic, I highly recommend the following book “Blood on the Wattle” which details the history of some of the massacres across Australia. It is a hard book to read but one that should be read by every Australian.
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Posted in Abo, Aboriginal, Aborigines in Chains, Apartheid in Australia, Australia, Australia's abuse of human rights, Boong, Coon, Human Rights, Indigenous, Nigger, Racism, racism in australia, Reconciliation, Slavery in Australia, What Oprah should know, What the Australian Tourism Commission won't tell you | Tagged: | 19 Comments »