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Thoughts

As a social worker I have been well trained in self reflection, self awareness, and critical thinking. For most of my career I have worked directly with clients, and have always endeavoured to remain self aware to understand why I sometimes respond in particular ways to different clients. For example, I know that I naturally trust and like men with beards. Probably because my dad has a beard, and he’s pretty swell and trustworthy. But I think it’s important to know that about myself, as not all men with beards are friendly guys, and it would be unprofessional and very unhealthy if I approached all bearded clients with that mindset.

But lately I’ve been wondering if there is such a thing as too much self reflection, or if it is necessary to be so with friends. When I talk with people (friends, colleagues, strangers, and clients) I find I can’t quite relax. I’m thinking all the time about my body language and my facial expressions. Rather than listening to what they say, I’m often thinking about what they’re saying. And while it seems odd, this means that I often miss important points. Actually, I think I often miss the whole point. I add meaning where there is none, and because I am trying to analyse how I respond to what someone is saying, I accidentally make it all about me. This is not deliberate. But I imagine it would be very annoying. I hate it when other people do it to me.

I’m curious if other social workers, psychologists, therapists etc… do the same thing. Is this a professional quirk, or just an oddity specific to me. I wonder how I can switch it off.

I have a secret shame. Okay, maybe it’s not that big a secret. Anyone who’s been in my company when I’ve had a little too much to drink, or who’s known me for any length of time, will be aware of this. The issue itself it not really a secret, the secret is that I am ashamed of it (okay, that may not really be a secret either).

I pride myself on being a feminist, a very well educated woman, a woman who is on track in the career I have always wanted, a woman who travels, reads a lot (43 books in 2011!), is versed in Australian and international politics, can be a little too passionate about issues and will argue about them until I’m in tears and everyone around me is either laughing or feeling a little sorry for me, and a woman who is blessed with a wonderful loving family filled with strong, bold women that have been wonderful role models and mentors for me as I have grown up.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that every time I look in the mirror I want to scream at myself and smash the mirror. I am not overweight. Well, maybe a tiny bit. My doctor told me I could afford to lose half a kilo. But, I am not unhealthy. I am not unusual. I am, as a matter of fact, quite boringly normal. So why do I, a well educated woman who should know better, obsess so much about such a stupid thing? Why is it, that every time I see a poster of Miranda Kerr I feel a hideous disgust and become so ashamed of my body that I decide to never leave my room?

It’s absurd! I am very ashamed of suffering from such a cliched weakness, but have no idea how to change it. I know all the right things. I know that the ideal I think I want to achieve is unhealthy and unattainable. I know that many of the images I see on posters and the covers of magazines are photoshopped. I could be slimmer if I did more exercise (my New Years resolution for the tenth year in a row) and ate less bread and pasta (but I love them so much!). But I would never have ‘that’ body. I am blessed to have good skin, hair that curls nicely in the right humidity, and I would often call myself pretty (but rarely out loud, as that would make me seem vain and women aren’t supposed to do that, it’s not feminine). But none of that matters when I’m preparing for a night out and change my dress ten times because that one shows the fat above my knees, that one shows the fatty bits around my arm pits, my butt looks too big in that one, my triceps are waving back to me in that one, those shoes make me look like I have cankles… Enough!!!! It’s exhausting! Leave me alone already!

Do I blame the media for my absurd obsession? Of course. I am surrounded by images of super skinny women. When there are successful women who don’t meet the ideal body type, their bodies aren’t shown. Has anyone seen a magazine cover showing Adele’s whole body? I have no problem with Miranda Kerr modelling swimwear, but I’d like to see some size 12 (my size) women modelling for Seafolly as well. It embarrasses me to say this, but I am influenced by the images I see in the media. I wish I wasn’t. I wish I was evolved enough to not even notice. I’m working on that, but I’m not there yet.

But it’s also my fault. I think I perpetuate this by talking and thinking about it too much. Only last night I was complaining about this with a friend I hadn’t seen in months. Months! Why did I waste that valuable time talking about my arse?!

So what am I going to do about it? For starters, I’m going to watch more Kate Winslet films. Secondly, I’m going to try and stop talking about my weight. It will be really hard, as I think I talk about it to stave of criticism I think is in the minds of the people I’m with, but most likely isn’t there. I’m putting it there. I will say I’ll exercise more, and I’ll say it’s purely for health reasons. But I say that every year. And in addition to my work, I’m starting a law degree this year. So time will be even more tight, but then, exercise will be more important.

By the way, while I say I’m going to stop talking about this, I mean I’m going to (try) and stop whinging about it to my friends, who are now sick of me. I am going to write more about it in this blog. I also want to write more about feminism and Christianity. I am both, a Christian and a feminist. Many people seem to think these two are mutually exclusive. I call bull shit.

There is a lot to be said on this topic and my family have often been subjected to my rants on the issue. I may write more later, but I’m super busy with work stuff, so I’ll just post this video for now. What do you think?

To learn more about the film and to sign the pledge to ‘use [your] voice to spread the message of Miss Representation and challenge the media’s limiting portrayal of women and girls” go to the Miss Representation website.

So Myanmar is to be the chair of ASEAN in 2014. Really?! And after 50 years the US is reengaging with Myanmar. Here is President Obama’s speech.

Good afternoon, everybody. Throughout my administration—and throughout this trip—I’ve underscored America’s commitment to the Asia Pacific region, but also I’ve underscored America’s commitment to the future of human rights in the region. Today I’m announcing an important step forward in our efforts to move forward on both these fronts.

For decades, Americans have been deeply concerned about the denial of basic human rights for the Burmese people. The persecution of democratic reformers, the brutality shown towards ethnic minorities, and the concentration of power in the hands of a few military leaders has challenged our conscience, and isolated Burma from the United States and much of the world.

However, we have always had a profound respect for the people of Burma, and the promise of their country—a country with a rich history, at the crossroads of East and West; a people with a quiet dignity and extraordinary potential. For many years, both the promise and the persecution of the Burmese people has been symbolized by Aung San Suu Kyi. As the daughter of Burma’s founding father, and a fierce advocate for her fellow citizens, she’s endured prison and house arrest, just as so many Burmese have endured repression.

Yet after years of darkness, we’ve seen flickers of progress in these last several weeks. President Thein Sein and the Burmese Parliament have taken important steps on the path toward reform. A dialogue between the government and Aung San Suu Kyi has begun. The government has released some political prisoners. Media restrictions have been relaxed. And legislation has been approved that could open the political environment. So, taken together, these are the most important steps toward reform in Burma that we’ve seen in years.

Of course, there’s far more to be done. We remain concerned about Burma’s closed political system, its treatment of minorities and holding of political prisoners, and its relationship with North Korea. But we want to seize what could be an historic opportunity for progress, and make it clear that if Burma continues to travel down the road of democratic reform, it can forge a new relationship with the United States of America.

Last night, I spoke to Aung San Suu Kyi, directly, and confirmed that she supports American engagement to move this process forward. So today, I’ve asked Secretary Hillary Clinton to go to Burma. She will be the first American Secretary of State to travel to the country in over half a century, and she will explore whether the United States can empower a positive transition in Burma and begin a new chapter between our countries.

That possibility will depend upon the Burmese government taking more concrete action. If Burma fails to move down the path of reform, it will continue to face sanctions and isolation. But if it seizes this moment, then reconciliation can prevail, and millions of people may get the chance to live with a greater measure of freedom, prosperity, and dignity. And that possibility is too important to ignore.

Later today I’ll reinforce these messages in America’s meeting with Asean—including with President Thein Shein. Meanwhile, when she travels to Naypyidaw and Rangoon, Hillary will have the chance to deliver that message to the government, to civil society, and to democratic activists like Aung San Suu Kyi.

Again, there’s more that needs to be done to pursue the future that the Burmese people detserve—a future of reconciliation and renewal. But today, we’ve decided to take this step to respond to the positive developments in Burma and to clearly demonstrate America’s commitment to the future of an extraordinary country, a courageous people, and universal values.

Thank you very much.

I am so excited that SBS has done this and I can’t wait to see it! One of the reasons, in my opinion, behind the fear and distrust of asylum seekers in Australia is a lack of the human element in the story. I hope that after watching this show many people will think about and see the story of asylum seekers a little differently. I by no means expect people to change their minds completely and call for an increase in our numbers, but I hope it will decrease the hysteria and xenophobia directed towards one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Perhaps it may also lead to some more considered and intelligent discussion about asylum seekers in government, the media, the workplace, and around the dinner table.

Now, how to get it onto the commercial stations…