Body positive parenting

Today I saw an article pop up in my news feed which struck a bit of chord. Pop singer Pink, who while I don’t find her music inspiring, I do think is a great role model for girls, this week accepted an award at an awards ceremony where she made an acceptance speech aimed at her six year old daughter.

Pink said her daughter had recently told her she thought she was ugly. Again, her daughter is six years old.

I will reprint Pink’s response and her speech in full below because I think it’s kickass. It’s parenting done right in my humble opinion. The issue however is not one that Pink is just dealing with.

My five year old daughter has also recently said something similar to me. A couple of months ago she came home from kindy and told me she is fat. My five year old is not fat, in fact for much of her life we have fought to keep her even on the weight percentile. That is not really the issue though. The issue is that a five year old should not even be thinking about whether or not she is fat.

I know I am super careful about the language and messages we give at home around weight and appearance. I have suffered with terrible body issues almost my entire life and I have previously written about it so I’m not going to go into it in detail again, but I do know the words fat, skinny, or any other potential negative is not used in our house. We talk about being fit and strong and eating foods to give us energy.

It broke my heart the day she came home thinking she was fat. She has since also called her three year old sister fat, which we’ve had to have a discussion around not using language to hurt people.

I know I will not be able to protect my children from these ideas as they are everywhere. I guess I thought that a five and six year old child would still be more interested in superheroes, ponies and fairies than whether they fit into a unachievable media construct.

So now that there is an awareness, I guess the next challenge is to how to build a positive body image so that my girls do not go through their lives hating their bodies, but love the power and strength their bodies have and that they can use them to achieve whatever goals they set themselves.

Pink’s speech to her daughter:

I know I don’t have a lot of time, but if I may tell you a quick story. Recently, I was driving my daughter to school and she said to me, out of the blue, ‘Mama?’ I said, ‘Yes, baby?’ She said, ‘I’m the ugliest girl I know.’ And I said, ‘Huh?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, I look like a boy with long hair.’ And my brain went to, ‘Oh my god, you’re six. Why? Where is this coming from? Who said this? Can I kick a 6-year-old’s ass, like what?’

But I didn’t say anything. Instead I went home and I made a Powerpoint presentation for her. And in that presentation were androgynous rockstars and artists that live their truth, are probably made fun of every day of their life, and carry on, wave their flag and inspire the rest of us. And these are artists like Michael Jackson and David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and Annie Lennox and Prince and Janis Joplin and George Michael, Elton John, so many artists — her eyes glazed over. But then I said, ‘You know, I really want to know why you feel this way about yourself.’ And she said, ‘Well I look like a boy,’ and I said, ‘Well what do you think I look like?’ And she said, ‘Well you’re beautiful.’ And I was like, ‘Well, thanks. But when people make fun of me, that’s what they use. They say I look like a boy or I’m too masculine or I have too many opinions, my body is too strong.’

And I said to her, ‘Do you see me growing my hair?’ She said, ‘No, mama.’ I said, ‘Do you see me changing my body?’ ‘No, mama.’ ‘Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?’ ‘No, mama.’ ‘Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?’ ‘Yes, Mama.’ ‘OK! So, baby girl. We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty.’

And to all the artists here, I’m so inspired by all of you. Thank you for being your true selves and for lighting the way for us. I’m so inspired by you guys. There’s so much rad shit happening in music. And keep doing it. Keep shining for the rest of us to see.

And you, my darling girl, are beautiful, and I love you.  – PiNK

Searching for the Nullarbor Nymph…

There are a huge number of epic and iconic road trips in Australia. One of the most iconic has to be crossing the Nullarbor Plains.

The Nullarbor is the stuff of legends.. the greatest of all is the Nullarbor Nymph. She was first spotted in 1971 in Eucla, just over the Western Australian border. The legend was that a half naked white woman, just wearing a kangaroo skin, was spotted in the bush with the kangaroos. A huge number of media from across the world descended on Eucla in search of the mysterious woman. The legend persisted for some time, until it was eventually revealed that the Nullarbor Nymph was invented by a group of blokes having a beer at Eucla Hotel. I've heard a couple of different stories as to who the woman who appeared in the grainy photo was. One story was she was a backpacker working in the hotel, while I believe her actual identity was the wife of a local kangaroo shooter who was in on the hoax from the beginning.

Our adventure across the Nullarbor was no where near as legendary but we did see some incredible sights.

After visiting family and friends around Adelaide and the Yorke Peninsula we said goodbye once again … bound for the wilds of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

Our first stop was Port Augusta where we stayed with a friend of Dave's. There may or may not have been some beverages consumed, and there may or may not have been an application submitted to a reality television show.

It was a late start from Port Augusta the next day once we stocked up on food and got some other jobs done before getting proper on the road.

With just a limited amount of travel time we passed a few legendary 'big things' like a big Galah in Kimba and made it as far as Poochera where we set up camp at the back of the Poochera Hotel.

I have heard of Poochera and was aware of its notoriety as the home of the 'Dinosaur Ant'. Poochera has a total population of around 130 people, however it indeed is home to an ant species that still exists from prehistoric times. Although I have to say, I saw a few ants while we were in town and they pretty much looked the same to me as any other garden variety ant.. except for the giant one outside the roadhouse, but I'm pretty sure that was a recreation 🙂

Day 3 we headed up the coast of the Eyre Peninsula, which despite the fact it rained almost the entire day, was still pretty impressive. We saw many more jettys, the biggest windmill in either Australia or the world, I can't really remember, and went searching for the famous but seemingly hidden, Cactus Beach at Penong. I think our little Jayco Dove got a bitten shaken up on that side trip.

Finally we reached Fowlers Bay, where we camped for the night. And oh what a night… we were hit with the first real bout of sickness for the girls since we set off over 18 months ago. First Avalon and then Marla both vomiting the entire night! I was considering turning back towards the nearest town the next morning to find a doctor if the vomiting didn't stop. The next morning it seemed to have cleared up, so we decided to keep going. However there wasn't over and my poor babies both had an awful day of sickness, which as quick as it started, thankfully stopped by the late afternoon.

Of course the girls being sick happened on the one day that we had planned to do the really fun things like see the whales at the Head of the Bight. They still wanted to do this but they were much more subdued over the experience than they would have been as they were pretty excited in the lead up to see the whales.

I was pretty excited though to spot the sign telling us we had finally reached the Nullarbor Plains. The Nullarbor (also known as the Nullar-boring – which I strongly disagree with) is the earth's largest piece of limestone at 200,000km square and 1,200km from east to west.

There is one section of the highway that at 146.6km is the longest straight length of road in the world.

The landscape is incredible, it is arid and sparse but hosts some of the most incredible coast line in the country. The Great Australian Bight looks just like a giant has taken a bite out of the bottom of Australia but its here that every year there are hundreds of amazing Southern Right Whales come to calve. This was such an amazing sight. It was better than I could have ever imagined and another bucket list item ticked.

I really wanted to do a run on the Nullarbor but I reassessed this once I saw the enormous amount of road kill on the road.. I really hadn't trained for hurdles over dead kangaroos and didn't really think I needed to start.

There are roadhouses along the plains around every 200km but of course the most well known one is the Nullarbor Roadhouse. I would have loved to have seen a sunset from here.

I've already talked about the legend of the Nullarbor Nymph and you can see how a legend like this can be born out here. Another amazing fact that I had no idea about was Balladonia, at the western end of the Nullarabor is the site where the NASA spacestation Sky Lab crashed to earth in 1979.

There is a museum with pieces from Sky Lab at the roadhouse and apparently US President Jimmy Carter phoned the hotel to apologise for the mess!

We eventually got to the South Australian / West Australian border where we stopped for the night.. mostly so we could use up as much of our fruit and veg we had on board before we had to throw it out to cross over the quarantine stop.

Day 4 we were prepared to have to completely unpack everything so that quarantine could make sure we weren't smuggling any produce but we got through pretty quickly and spent our biggest day travelling. We travelled from Border Village right through to the western end of the Nullarbor, a little town called Norseman.

So Day 5 we only had a short distance before we made it to Kalgoorlie… which will be the subject of my next update!

Until then

The GudLanges xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter in the Clare Valley

Brrrr, after spending last winter bathed in the warmth of the Sunshine State to say this winter has been cold has been an understatement! Of course it doesn't help when you see the news reports telling us that its been the coldest winter in 110 years.

Anyway, as I sit in our van writing this with the heater blasting and a beanie on while the rain comes down outside I again make the promise that I will never, never ever ever, do winter again.

However, Clare is beautiful, its colourful, and its a lovely community. In the short time that we've been here we've connected with so many people.

Of course being a wine region there is exceptional wine to drink, and it's probably true that the odd glass of shiraz to relax and warm up on a Saturday night has been consumed.

But Clare is much more, there is the amazing Riesling Trail which follows the old railway line which currently stretches around 32 kilometres from Auburn to Barinia. However it also incorporates sections of the Mawson Trail and is close to the Heyson Trail. The Mawson Trail connection means that in reality its possible to either run, walk or cycle from Riverton through to Spalding, which is around 86 kilometres.

The reuse of sections of the rail line for the trail and for some of the local wineries is a great nod to the recent history of the area and allows access to some of the best views in the Clare Valley. Its also a great way to visit some of the cellar doors in the area, either on foot or by bike.

Clare is very much built around the wine industry, but when you are travelling with kids they are not going to be happy to spend their time sitting quietly while the parents have a nice civilised wine tasting.. no siree. On the two occasions I attempted to do this I spent more time in state of high anxiety, chasing them down to stop them playing hide and seek around the mountains of wine bottles, or creating a river from spilt water at the water cooler, than actively tasting wine.

There are some lovely parks in Clare though so there is no shortage of playgrounds for them to run out the crazy.

The best kid experience by far though is the Lakeside Railway at Melrose Park. Avalon decided she would quite like to do this for her 5th birthday so we gathered a couple of her friends and some high sugar party food and spent a fantastic sunny winter afternoon riding the model trains, which are run by the Clare Valley Model Engineers.

The trains run every 2nd and 4th Sunday afternoon during winter and Saturdays and more often during summer. Of course the Sunday we wanted to go it was not a scheduled time for them, but David and Dean very kindly heeded our call and rolled out one of the trains to give the kids, the little ones and the big ones, a couple of hours of train rides.

The track is great, its 1km long, with plans to further expand it another 350metres. It traverses across the park, over bridges and through a tunnel, which has all been constructed by the Model Engineers group members, with some local community assistance.

The joy the kids got from this experience was awesome… Avalon has not stopped talking about the train and wants to go back again before we leave Clare and at only $1 per train ride, it's one of the best value family activities in the region.

Another great family activity in the Clare Valley is the Mintaro Maze, a traditional living hedge maze with lots of twists, turns, dead ends and fairy tale quirkiness. The girls had a fantastic afternoon trying to find the middle, answer the quiz questions and find our way out again. There are also a lot of life size puzzles outside of the maze that could keep the kids busy for hours and one of the most comprehensive gnome gardens around.

Not right in Clare, but not far away, is the historical town of Burra. Of course my primary reason for wanting to visit was the see the 'Midnight Oil' house.

This is the house that graces the cover of the band's 1987 album 'Diesel and Dust' and for this reason is one of the most famous ruins in Australia.

 

We had a great visit to Burra though and while we didn't make time to visit all the museums and mine sites, you would seriously need a few days for this, we did wander the historical streets, have a picnic lunch on the river and feed the ducks.

Shout out also to the Valleys Centre where we spent many hours doing swimming lessons, trying roller skating, play gym and kids in the creche while I ran out my crazy on the treadmill on days where it wasn't possible to be outdoors.

And to the Clare Valley Children's Centre where both girls where made to feel so welcome for their term of kindy and child care. I can't praise the educators here enough.

So thank you Clare, you made a long, cold winter not only bearable but enjoyable.

But now its time to pack up again and after a week or so to say good bye to family and friends we are again hitting the road.. this time we are heading west!

The GudLanges

xx