First Communion, First Confession: Bless Me Father for I have a Fake Tan

By Donna Jones & Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Toni Morrison Quote 1a

Tiaras, white princess dresses, salon hair, make up and fake tans. I am not describing a wedding party or a debut set. Today, in Australia, some 7 year old girls go through the full ‘bridal makeover package’ to make their First Holy Communion.

Do parents realise they are sexualising their daughters for a religious ceremony? Or, is the sexualisation of young girls in our culture so endemic, parents do not think about it at all?

So girls learn at 7 years of age that:

– their real skin is not good enough (They have beautiful skin)

– their real cheeks are too rosy (They must be made to look like an adult)

– their real hair is too ordinary (They must have supermodel hair)

Sibylesque First Communion

This is not just a BODY IMAGE issue. This story reflects a shift in values and connection to community. In his Theory of Cognitive Development Piaget used the term ‘decentering’, to define a child’s ability to think outside him or herself, to think of others. This stage stretches from 7 – 12 years of age. So at the very point where children start to think how others might feel in a situation, we turn the spotlight on them. We create little narcissists.

Sad, isn’t it.

As for the tiara, that’s fine. Every young girl is a princess.

Photo Source: Pinterest.

Toni Morrison Quote: link

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The Sibyls Sing

by Maren Rawlings

Sibylesque music quote 2

This year I am going to relive one of the most sublime experiences of Western Civilization. I shall take part as a second soprano in Verdi’s Requiem for four soloists, double choir and orchestra in the Melbourne Town Hall. It was first performed in Milan in 1874. Beginning with a plea for the eternal rest of the departed, it moves in Roman Catholic style with exuberant terror to the possible Judgement (“Dies irae, dies illa, Solvet saeclum in favilla, Teste David cum Sybilla*” Not only do our Sibyls sing, occasionally they sing about our namesake, TheSibyls. Ed.).

The cry goes out to “gentle Jesus” as past sins are remembered and prayers are offered until the great Sanctus or worship of the Trinity rings out. Then we are reminded of the Lamb of God, Light Eternal and the work ends with the incredible “Libera Me” (Deliver me).

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The best thing about this intention (apart from making “divine” music) is that I shall join about 180 other singers most of whom cannot read music. We have the wonders of the car disc player and the smart phone to thank for a whole new pool of choristers. Your part is provided on CD or you can download it from the internet and you now have a legitimate self-improvement excuse to wear those ear-buds on every possible occasion for private practice. Full throated in the car or on your walk is recommended. Give the birds and galahs a serve of their own.

Our only requirement to be in the choir is that you can SING IN TUNE and that you pay unswerving and COMPLETE ATTENTION to our Director-Conductor (Jane Elton Brown OAM). Actually, hubby does front of house and he needs help, so we shall accept non-singing members if you just want to listen while the spouse has all the fun.

You can find us at Star Chorale: A tradition of excellence in choral music if you would like further information about rehearsals or if you would like to come to the concert on 26th July at 2 pm.

*”Day of anger, day of terror, All shall crumble into ashes, As the Sibyl and David bore witness”

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Maren RawlingsMaren Rawlings is a fabulously diverse educator and music devotee. She has taught at city and country schools including a 22-year stint at MLC, Melbourne. She has lectured in psychology at RMIT University and Melbourne Uni, written Psychology textbooks and, in 2011, graduated PhD in “Humour at Work” at Swinburne University where she currently tutors.

Maren is President of the Star Chorale, a community choir and this year they sing Verdi’s Requiem with the Zelman Orchestra.

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Photo Source: Star Choral Website

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Part-time Goddess of the Garden

by Honey Clarke

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The Chooks  by Honey Clarke

The Chooks
by Honey Clarke

I’m feeling frightfully bucolic right now. A bit like Ceres, goddess of crops tripping sylph-like through the fields, triggering all she touches into life. Winter in the Crater is the best time of the year for vegie greens and my vegies are a vision to behold. Gardening holds such power for change.

Please don’t think that I’m one of those green thumbs, who plants by the moon, grows an abundance of flowers and harvests pumpkins as huge as my head. In summer Mother Nature rides rough shod over me with her ride-on mower and I manage to save some things in her wake. But in winter, when bugs head north and possums seem to have plenty I am Goddess of the Garden.

It wasn’t always so. My turning point came in the 1990s when I had to start a garden from scratch and I discovered Gardening Australia. Here before me was garden porn for the desperate and undeserving. All the things I fantasized about apparently were there at my fingertips.

Sketch of Honey planting seed

Sketch of Honey planting seed

It was revolutionary how little was needed to make life come anew. I followed blindly. When Jane propagated I snipped tips off everything. Col saved seeds; I saved seeds too. Oh and I knew what Peter meant as he sniffed his compost, threatening to put it on his muesli. Truly, it was so “bloomin’ ” marvelous. The miracle of life in seed or sprig meant whole worlds opened up for me.

Okay my “tip-pruning” took on an unhealthy twist. My kids groaned as I drove twice around the roundabouts looking at new plants and they threatened they’d leave if I whipped out my secateurs one more time at the MacDonald’s drive-thru. In the end, our house block that was once a triumph of clay ended up a lovely garden and my zealotry tempered with time.

Plenty of people realize the power of the plant. Stories of generosity flourish including: fruit and vegetable swaps where garden wisdom is exchanged as well; towns where they help the homeless by swapping vegetables for collecting waste; community gardens that burst with produce and vibrant community, and movements like Landshare where those with land share their spaces with those who haven’t any, to grow food. How powerful is that!

So there are times in summer when it’s cheaper to buy a box of tomatoes than to grow one, but the thrill of that little green shoot promises so much. I’m following the footsteps of those who have come before me and planting possibilities for the season to come.

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Honey Clarke

Honey Clarke

Honey Clarke lives on the side of a mountain in an extinct crater lake with her partner, the Rock Doctor. She’s an artist, writer and teacher who encapsulates the essence of life in the quick strokes of paint or pen. Honey has two grown up kids and seven grandchildren. She is part-owner in a bamboo farm. She would like to say her hobbies are kite-surfing and abseiling but that would be a lie. Instead she reads, swims, travels, paints and blogs as much as possible. Honey’s blog is Honeyclarkeart. To inquire about Honey Clarke’s art, books or illustraoins contact her at: honeyclarkeartATgmail.com

Other posts by Honey include: Some Grandmas are Wild Things

Gemma Sisia has a big dream to fight poverty through education.

Gemma Sisia has a big dream to fight poverty through education.

 

The charity that she and the Rock Doctor champion is St Judes in Tanzania, a brilliant school educating kids out of poverty.

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Photo Source: Honey Clarke’s Blog and St Jude’s Website.

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How Lilly Pilly Jam can Change Your Life

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Lilly Pilly Jam

In her inspirational article, Living with Purpose, NYT, Paula Span cited research that shows that our health benefits from contributing to and being connected with our community.

What better way to be connected than by contributing to a Fruit and Veg Swap.

semaphore fruit and veg swapThe idea grew out of the Australia wide Share and Save initiative, which aims to reduce waste by allowing locals to share, borrow, swap or access food, clothes, plants and other useful items.

Samantha Dunn with the Food swappers at the Upwey Grassroots Market  crdunn blogFruit and Veg Swaps can now be found in suburbs around the country. Including the Semaphore Fruit and Veg Swap, SA (LEFT), and the Upwey Grassroots Market, Victoria (BELOW) markets have sprung up around Australia

According to the Henley Fruit and Veg Swap, SA (BELOW):


‘The swap is informal and simple, and works on one main principle: people give whatever surplus home-grown produce they don’t need and can freely give, and they take whatever they can definitely use.’

Henley Fruit and Veg swapParticipants swap produce, stories, recipes and gardening tips. You can find the recipe for Lilly-Pilly Jelly here and here. I didn’t even know you could eat Lilly-Pillies.

Lilly Pilly Jelly   littlebitofthyme blog.

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It just sounds a lot more fun than picking over damaged fruit listening to PA price checks at the local supermarket.

 PHOTO SOURCE: Semaphore fruit and veg swap BLOG, crdunn blog, Henley Fruit and Veg Swap blog and alittlebitofthyme blog.

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Sense of Purpose

 by Kerry Cue

Living with purpose quotePaula SpanLiving with Purpose, (New York Times, 3 JUN 2014) written by The New Old Age columnist Paula Span (left) is a significant article, which provides both insight and inspiration on the subject of aging well. The conclusion summarised in the article and backed by extensive research, applies equally to all age groups.

A sense of purpose has many health benefits. It contributes to ‘satisfaction and happiness, better physical functioning and even better sleep.’

‘They want to make a contribution’ explained Dr Patricia Boyle, Rush University, Chicago, who conducted a longitudinal study of 1,000 elderly subjects. ‘They want to feel a apart of something that extends beyond themselves.” A sense of purpose can come from mentoring as well as passing on memories and experience to the young.

Sibyls Emblem Red Frescoe

This is, of course, the reason the Sibylesque blog came into being. Why not become a Sibyl? What memories, experience or words of wisdom would you like to pass onto the young, or not so young?

 We, THE SIBYLS, declare Paula Span an Honorary Sibyl for her generosity of spirit in sharing her personal stories, insight and wisdom.

When the Times Comes coverPaula Span is journalist with extensive experience writing for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. She is also the author of When the Times Comes: Families with Aging Parents Share their Struggles and Solutions. You can learn more about Paula at her website.

Photo source: Paula Span’s website.

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