Creating a Natural High at Walcha Rural Women’s Gathering

Passion, inspiration, learning, laughter, friendship and empowerment… were on the program at this year’s Rural Women’s Gathering held in Walcha this past weekend.  3 great days of excitement, connection and culture were shared with 219 attendees gathered in the high country.

A jam-packed program was full of captivating speakers, educational workshops, interesting tours, fresh local cuisine, community group hospitality and musical entertainment.  This is the 27th NSW Rural Women’s Gathering to be held.  The annual event is organised by dedicated local committees each year, supported by the Rural Women’s Network.

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Despite a challenging drought and a heart-breaking season, the Walcha committee flocked together to create a natural high reflecting their environment, location, history and culture.  Ironically, Walcha is renowned for “where wild rivers run”… but the big dry had put a stop to that.  Nevertheless, a wonderful committee ensured the beauty remained in their environment through the town’s artworks, culture and welcoming friendly faces that surrounded us.

The Hon. Adam Marshall MP, officially opened the NSW Rural Women’s Gathering (RWG) and launched the 2019 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll which celebrates women volunteers who give so much to their rural communities.  It was wonderful to recognise a few names on the list this year.  Two ladies that I know personally, I want to make mention of, as they inspire me in their communities.

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The beautiful bubbly personality of Mary Hollingworth from Guyra (formerly Glen Innes) was recognised as a valuable volunteer for more than 35 years.  She is renowned for her involvement with the Glen Innes Celtic Festival and many community organisations.  Mary never ceases to amaze me with her infectious smile, love for life and her encouragement of others.  She also seems to have a knack of persuading people to hit the dance floor with her (thanks Mary!).

The kind-hearted generous likes of Sue-Ellen Wilkin from Moore Creek near Tamworth.  A strong amazing woman that started a charitable food pantry for drought-stricken farmers at Tamworth and Murrurundi.  The charity is called Doing It For Our Farmers and is run by a group of tireless volunteers.  Sue-Ellen has a heart full of passion and care for the farming community.  Her charity is a valuable support network for farmers and local primary producers.

Guest Speakers were inspiring in their own unique ways and an interested audience was captivated in the information they shared, the laughter they inspired and challenging stories they could relate to.

A local Walcha sheep and cattle producer, Sonia O’Keefekept the audience captivated with her inspiring outlook and positive attitude.  She shared her story with her down-to-earth personality and simple, yet empowering philosophy in life.

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A leading lady in musical theatre, cabaret, screen and radio, Amanda Muggleton, kept us entertained with her unique style, passion, humour and extroverted persona.  She has just joined the cast of Home and Away, as Robbo’s on-screen mum Wendy.  She amazed us all with her wit, enchanting personality, performing ability and provocative versatility.

Fun and laughter all-round when she performed the segment called Laugh Out Loud with Amanda Muggleton, alongside 4 talented committee members.  Interestingly, she was not just a guest speaker and performer at this event, but she attended the weekend with us all.  Her friendly involvement, love for life and encouragement of others is very inspiring.

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Grazier, author and Walcha Councillor, Jen Kealey, spoke of her passion in the rural community, charity work and resilience.  Walcha local and organising committee member, Anna Barwick, shared her unique story, her Showgirl journey and her success in life with heartfelt passion as a health advocate. 

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Janelle Archdale shared the inspiration of her time as the first female Mayor of Walcha and now runs her boutique-style fashion, homewares and giftware store called Paperdolls House.  Angus stud breeder, Erica Halliday, gave us an insight into women in the boardroom with her casual yet intelligent demeanor.

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Wool producer, Jules Cordingley, spoke about merino wool, quality yarn and her woollen fashion company.  Jo Palmer, a successful business woman and the winner of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Awards told her story of connecting people to remote work opportunities.

Sister Jan O’Grady from Open Support gave us valuable information on accessing health care services in Sydney and how Country Care Link transport services can assist the rural community when at their most vulnerable.  My dear friend, Sonia Fingleton went on to explain how she manages the beautiful Chisholm Cottage, like a home away from home, so that rural people can access major Hospitals and health services in the city affordably and with a network of support around them.

Local graziers and earthmoving contractors, Peter and Suzanne O’Keefe, shared their heartfelt real-life story when he became a burns victim in a terrible farm explosion accident.  Against all odds, Peter survived this accident, 59 days in an induced coma and 32 surgeries later.  They both shared their own perspective of what happened and how they handled such adversity in their lives.  I shed tears listening to their amazing strength and how they coped.  Peter now inspires other burn victims during their recovery period.  Amazing speakers, leaving not a dry eye in the room.  Very inspiring!

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The dedicated Walcha RWG Committee offered an abundance of local artists to display their creative artworks in a Pop-Up Art Show.  Local quilters displayed their talent in numerous eye-catching colourful quilts.  Local market stalls provided a beautiful selection of giftwares, luxury items for the lady and unique creations during the weekend for sale.  Service providers were also in attendance to share advice and assistance wherever possible. 

A variety of interesting and empowering workshops were organised with a magnitude of varying subjects.  Not surprisingly, I chose to do 2 writing workshops with Author John Heffernan.  Sometimes we must challenge ourselves, try new things and stretch our imagination… you just never know what you may truly be capable of.

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Friday night we were entertained by the musical ability and incredible voice of 16 year-old Hattie Oates from Tamworth.  A soulful voice well beyond her years where we danced to pitch-perfect tunes.

Saturday night, a blanket of white filled the marquee with a beautiful White Dinner @ Altitude.  Guests dressed in white clothing, enjoyed beautifully presented platters before them and enjoyed a local Fleece to Fashion Parade.  Followed by non-stop entertainment with the fun-loving party band Memphis Moovers.

All night, we kicked up our heels, leaving all reservations behind, and enjoyed music from the 50’s to the 00’s… from Elvis to Lady Gaga.  The Memphis Moovers  returned Sunday for a fabulous musical finale.  A song was written and performed with the RWG attendees… the singers, the dancers and the clappers.

A wonderful, inspirational, motivating weekend that has once again given me direction, time-out and a vision in my own life.  I am already looking forward to next year’s Rural Women’s Gathering to be held in Forbes.   

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The best part was catching up with familiar faces that I had met at previous RWG events.  It just feels like I have known these women for so much longer.  Great friendships have formed and a network of support is so relevant.  We all need a little girl-power, female support, uplifting souls to empower us… and this is the rural women’s event to do this.

Take care, Karen.

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“When women support each other

incredible things happen.”

~ Author Unknown.

 

 

 

Speaking to Inspire at Empowering Anxiety Event

Last night I had an opportunity to speak at Katie Godden’s Anxiety Solutions Workshop at Nemingha.  This empowering event, with 50 attendees, shared strategies to help women manage anxiety and stress.  Courage and confidence to find our own way by prioritising our own wellbeing was the key message delivered.

I shared my personal story when anxiety was crippling my life and when life changes revealed a future that scared me.  After raising my children and now needing a new life purpose, it was scary not knowing what the future will hold.  As women, we do question our position in life, our purpose and knowing who we really are.

When I started to lose that grip on my life, worry set in.  The WHAT IF cycle had hold of me.  As a renowned control freak, I love order and structure.  I was the organiser and the strength to get things done in my family and beyond.  This was proving to be a struggle.

Anxiety used to rule my life.  Anxiety used to control all of my decisions and lack of decisions.  Anxiety doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone at any time.  We can experience anxiety at different levels, in different ways, sometimes more severe than others.

It is not about the anxiety… it is about… WHAT YOU DO ABOUT IT.

I made a choice to get help and put myself first.  I was determined to change my life around.  I put strategies in place.  I learned to say NO.  I set boundaries for my family to know what was important to me.

I realised that I cannot be there for anyone else unless I take care of myself first.  I set my own goals for my own future.  This formed part of my mission of personal growth and self-discovery.  Whatever it is that you want in life, you are all capable of achieving it.

I am now able to manage my anxiety and convert it into nervous energy that motivates me.  I listen to my body and mind to know what is best for me and the ones I love.

When you are back in control, the anxiety doesn’t control you.  There is so much self-satisfaction about taking on challenges and no longer worrying excessively.

If somebody told me 6 months ago that I would be public speaking, there is no way I would have believed it.  I feared public speaking all of my life.  Now, it is just another challenge and an opportunity to share my story to inspire others.

All we want in life is to be the best person we can be.  To be at our best, so we can take on life.  When we are at our best, we are happy, really happy.  Everyone deserves to be happy.  That happiness is contagious and will flow through to others.

It was a privilege to be able to speak and inspire other individuals last night on a topic that is rarely spoken about.  I am grateful that those 50 attendees walked away knowing their own worth and have started that inner process of taking back control.  50 beautiful normal everyday women, just wanting the best for themselves and the ones they love.

We all have the capability of being true to ourself, taking care of ourself and accepting that we deserve it.

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Thank you to Katie Godden for putting this empowering program together to help us all change our lives for the better.  And thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to speak and connect with others.

Also thank you to Nemingha Public School P&C for applying for funding through the Primary Health Network (PHN) to bring awareness and assistance on a very important topic that needs to be spoken about. Anxiety is very common, yet very misunderstood.  This event brought clarity and useful strategies for moving forward.

Take care, Karen.

“You can’t stop the waves,

but you can learn to surf.”

~ John Kabat-Zinn

CWA Conference Aspires Leadership & Friendship from Albury

Country Women’s Association of NSW (CWA) members bring an abundance of knowledge, energy and inspiration into Albury NSW for this year’s Annual State Conference.  From business meetings, honourable guests and informative workshops… to social activities, historical tours and State Committee displays… there was never a dull moment.  And I have caught it on camera, then compiled a video to share with you today.

I had the privilege to attend as a Delegate for Tamworth Evening branch along with my friend Kylie and a group of ladies from our region.  Women from all walks of life coming together with their unique backgrounds, experiences and expertise to seek a mutual resolution of motions.

CWA aims to improve the lives of women and their families through their democratic process of a policy-setting agenda and an extensive range of activities.  Many opportunities lie within all levels of CWA to be involved and seek the support of local issues of grave concern.

Starting with a combined Ecumenical Service and raising $2,884 for the Albury Wodonga Cancer Research Fund, members once again unite and connect socially.  The Official Opening entertained and inspired members prior to the Business Sessions commencing.  The keynote speaker was Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC Governor of NSW.

The CWA Medical Research Fund has raised $34,000 to donate towards endometriosis.  A debilitating disease affecting many women with symptoms of pelvic pain and fertility issues.  An interesting medical presentation has identified through research the importance of potential protein biomarkers of endometriosis.  CWA members have voted to continue supporting endometriosis through their Medical Research Fund for another year.

Interestingly CWA has opened 12 new branches over the last year; 11 Evening branches and 1 Sunrise branch.  CWA is now appealing to younger generations and working women that have a desire to become involved, having an opportunity to attend meetings that are more convenient.

Women join CWA for a variety of reasons such as friendships, social connections, educational opportunities, sharing of experiences, learning cookery skills, creating handicraft items, to discuss local agricultural concerns, the policy-setting agenda… and the list goes on.

International information was shared on the CWA Country of Study for this year which is Papua New Guinea.  Other cultures are interesting and CWA members have the ability to learn new and fascinating information.

Business Sessions continued throughout the Conference where policy motions were discussed, amended as needed and then voted upon.  A diverse range of topics arose in the scope of agriculture and environment, health and social security, transport and telecommunications and Constitutional changes.

Important resolutions were sought from CWA branches and successfully made CWA State policy for topics such as rural crime, improper use of drones, travelling stock routes, food safety standards for meat and milk, erecting a wildlife overpass, dairy industry issues, public cancer clinics, post mortems, supporting nurses, health industry pricing, drought relief funding, scoliosis, Automated External Defibrilators, horse traffic road rules, and truck-specific rest areas.

CWA, as the largest women’s organisation in Australia, plays an important role in lobbying the Government for change and improvements across so many aspects of our lives.  I am very proud to be a part of such an hounourable and progressive organisation.

As a shy individual, with the thought of public speaking terrifying me all of my life, I chose to step up and speak at this year’s State Conference.  This decision aligned well with my current journey of personal growth and challenging myself.

I spoke against a motion and explained my reasoning, without falter, in front of 500 other members.  When a Past State President asked for me (and another member) to assist in the re-wording of the motion to incorporate the relevant concerns, it felt amazing to be part of this process, working together for the desired result.  The motion was to review a weed classification, educate and research.

Another highlight for me, was winning 3rd place in an annual essay competition presented by the Honorary Editor of the CWA Journal.  This was the first time I had entered a CWA competition, so I was very excited.  The essay topic was “In modern times, do we have the capacity to harness the power of empathy for one another?”  I found this topic very engaging and relatable, therefore very passionate to write about.

Socially we had a very entertaining week away, with plenty of laughter, great meals, dancing and friendly conversations.  I also caught up with some old friends and was delighted to see them again.  CWA brings a great bunch of women together with big hearts, thoughtful personalities, compelling stories and a myriad of experience.

Since the drought has been ever so heavy upon my shoulders, I valued my week away so very much.  I spoke with my husband every night, checking that all was OK on the farm, and appreciated the time out with CWA members and the uplifted feeling that had surrounded me.

I would like to share my amateur video with you all reflecting on the fun, the engagement and the memories of the happenings with CWA State Conference in Albury… through my eyes.

Take care, Karen.

 “Don’t let anything defeat you.”

~ Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley

Video Credit: YouTube and Karen Weller

Perfectionism is an Agonising Myth With Inferiority

When does our self-confidence start to become debilitated in life and we begin to doubt ourselves?  What makes us question ourselves and start to feel insignificant in other peoples eyes?  It is all a perception… yet so difficult for us all to see.

When we are little girls… we are full of confidence… nothing can phase us.  We are full of life, energetic and our strength is abundant in play.  At some point, at this very young age… we fall into a tangled web, as our peers’ question our relevance and we start to doubt our significance.  Differences are pointed out loudly and doubt sets in, upon our somewhat immature minds.

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This negatively conceived concept of perfection develops and sadly becomes the ideal for young girls to strive for… to fit in with a childhood society as a pecking order develops.  The unfortunate part is that it can take many years for these pre-conceived notions to be challenged and overcome.

As young girls develop through their teenage years and grow into young women, these perceptions are carried into adulthood and can burden our personal relationships.  Inferiority complexes have become the norm and media continues to depict the symbol of perfectionism as beauty without flaws.  Visual attractiveness becomes the image for one to endeavor to assume.  What are we teaching our young women and our young men of today?

As women are exploited on television and in magazines, our society is sending this message that perfection with our looks is the ideal.  We place unnecessary pressure on these young developing minds, that our appearance is more significant than personality, behaviour and attitude.  Those less fortunate in the beauty department are left feeling inadequate and unworthy.  Self-confidence has been lost and takes years for one to resurrect.

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Women can spend a great part of their lives, feeling inadequate and defective in some way.  They then feel accustomed with these faulty impressions and perceive that their partners will see the vulnerability beneath.  Men become confused as to what role women play in our society… beauty or brains… one to look at and one to hold.  They may fail to realise that women are far more complex than either.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… and this rings true.  But beauty is far more than being skin deep.  Beauty is a package of love, emotions, attitude, behaviour and values.  Attraction is complicated and not something to be evaluated.

Beauty is not in our appearance… real beauty is in our overall take on life and our confidence to be who we are.  It is our passion, our natural ability, our differences… those special little quirks that make you distinct and stand out in this world.  Everybody has something that makes them special, allowing them to shine with their true beauty when it is discovered.

We are who we are and why would you want to be anybody else.  Be true to yourself and own who you are.  Show the world what makes you tick… show the world that perfection is a myth and you are worthy just the way you are.

Kindness, compassion and an understanding for others are the real qualities that make us beautiful.  There is no need to strive for perfection.  Our flaws are what make us unique.  If you always look for perfection, you will never be content.  Have faith that you are perfect just the way you are.

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We can always strive for personal growth to benefit ourselves in our health, our mind and our wellbeing… but not competition or comparison.  Love the person you are.  Flabby arms, speech impairments, baldness, lack of coordination, shyness, wobbly tummy, big nose, cross-eyes or a physical limp… does not define who you are.  They are just imperfections that should be accepted and thought about no more.

Our flaws and imperfections are the beautiful attributes that make us unique.  There is an untold story beneath each and every attribute.  Claim those stories… claim your individuality.  Our behaviour is not perfect either, we are all human.  Our mistakes are our lessons in life.  Learn the lesson and move on.

Too much of our life is wasted upon how we think we should hide, disguise or shield those unimportant visual discrepancies and our misaligned conduct.  We are what we are and we must feel comfortable in our own skin.  We need to boost each other up and encourage everyone to reveal the real beauty within, rather than battle a comparison war and feelings of inadequacy.

Love yourself first and foremost… then you will attract others into your life naturally and not by any false means of advertising.  You will be happier and more content if you allow yourself to be confident and believe in yourself.  Those little things that make up who you are… is what really makes you beautiful.  Believe you are beautiful and the world will see that you truly are.

Take care, Karen

“The biggest challenge of life is to be yourself

in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.”

~ Author Unknown

 

Relationships Are The Focus For International Women’s Day 2019 (What This Means To Me?)

Every year on 8th March International Women’s Day is celebrated with a focus on women’s rights.  The achievements of women from the past, the present and the future is what we celebrate.  This year’s theme is relationships.  Our personal relationships, our business relationships and our friendships.

This is by no means to exclude the men in our lives and does not make men inferior at all.  It just celebrates a movement whereby women have equal rights and now have equal opportunities in the workplace and home environment.

I have been fortunate to have been raised in a family where my parents allowed me to make my own decisions and make my own mistakes.  The value I place on my upbringing has made me grateful.  It may not have always been a bed of roses, but parents do the best they can and love unconditionally.  My parents loved and respected me and taught me to seek love and follow my values in my own life.  Their influence has been the underlying factor, of the woman I am today.

As I found love with my husband, a man that respects me and encourages me to be the best person I can be, I am very grateful.  Like any relationship, we have our ups and downs, but it is how you get through those ups and downs that matters… together.  Mind you, we may need to experience a few Mr Wrongs before we find Mr Right.  My advice is find a partner that is supportive and brings out the best in you.  Love, honesty, support and communication is what I treasure in my marriage.  As a woman, I choose nothing less.

When I became a mother, another women’s “role”… I found this was my calling in life.  I absolutely loved raising my 2 children.  I did not have the honour of raising daughters, as we had 2 sons… a wonderful privilege that I embraced.  Born only 17 months apart, I was determined to be the best mother I could be.

Now as a parent myself, I understand the sacrifices that parents make for the love of their children.  We sometimes think that we should give our children the best of everything… but it is our TIME that children need.  Not expensive gifts, treats or anti-social activities.  Our children deserve our undivided attention to know that they are loved unconditionally, but they also need to be taught manners, courtesy and respect.

As working women, time is limited, so we need to schedule time for each child and make it important.  It may be a juggle or it may be that we sacrifice something else in our lives… but they are only young once and we need to focus on the person we are raising for the sake of future society.

The “tooth fairy” antic really annoys me, as parents feel an overwhelming desire to keep up with their children’s peers.  I remember only giving 50 cents for teeth, now it is in the larger notes category.  What are we teaching our children?  I think children need to learn to work for their money and appreciate the value that they have earned.  My sons used to do their daily chores with encouragement from a chore chart, maybe earning several dollars each week, not that much at all.

We taught our children the value of money and their childhood was treated as a learning experience.  By no means did I do everything perfectly, but I did the best I could with what I had.  Now our children are in their early twenties, living their lives independently and I know that they will be OK.  We never stop learning throughout our lives at any age.

Today marks a very special achievement for my youngest son, as he has just purchased his first home, at almost 22 years of age.  He saved for a deposit and applied to the bank for a home loan.  I am proud of the responsibility and independence he has displayed in the process of this big life venture.  My eldest son at a similar age did the same thing.  As a mother, I know that we have taught them financial responsibility and I am so proud of the lives they are now leading.

Although now I find it challenging that my guidance and womanly advice is much less regular to when they were dependents.  Life has changed and is different.  I am always here to emotionally support or advise if necessary, in their adulthood.  One day I look forward to the next chapter of my life, when I will become a grandmother.  With no plans for either son at the moment, I will focus on my relationship with the rest of the world.  But I do look forward to being a guiding light for my grandchildren and spoiling them… but assist by instilling those precious morals and values in this tough challenging world.  More importantly, they need to know their own worth and believe in their own abilities… boy or girl… men and women of the future.

My involvement with the Country Women’s Association (CWA) also provides me with a network of support and friendships.  The CWA is the largest women’s organisation in Australia and aims to improve conditions for country women and their families.

CWA is known for bringing women together to improve their lives and providing a network of understanding and welfare of all women.  They also provide a forum to give women a voice within our nation.  They do this by lobbying the government for change, helping the local community and creating a network of support.

We sometimes under-estimate the true value that our friendships bring to our lives.  I have been fortunate to have made friends through this renowned women’s organisation in many regions and have met some strong women making a real difference.  It is amazing what a bunch of women can do when they put their heads together.

Through my farming business, I have also had the opportunity to meet and associate with many women with unique strengths.  Some women are a supportive partner in the farming world and some women paving their own way.  It doesn’t matter what we choose to do in our lives, as women, we should just do it with passion, commitment and a big heart.

Let go of all the debates of unimportance and accept we all have our own unique paths to follow.  Working women versus stay-at-home mothers.  Feeding style, sexuality or life choices… is only important to the person making the choice… everyone else needs to stick to their own opinion without pushing it upon others.  What is right for one person may not be right for another.  Acceptance is needed in life.

Good manners, kindness, compassion, understanding, love and support is what really matters.  If we all stick to this, life is so much more content.  Appreciate the iconic women that have shaped our lives, the strong women that are in our lives and the young women that are awaiting the future.  As women… be the woman that you admire or aspire to be.

Women need to be celebrated today for how far we have come over the years… individually and as a group.  Thank you to the men in our lives for giving us the freedom, equality, love and respect that you give us every day.  It is this support that brings balance to our lives.  Remember, we all have the responsibility of shaping our future daughters and developing them into strong capable women of the future… and raising our sons into the respectful beings that show a mutual support.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Take care, Karen.

P.S. In the words of Quentin Bryce, an iconic, influential and inspirational woman.  Also, the first woman to become Governor-General of Australia.

“Yes, you can have it all, but not all at the same time.

Set your own priorities, trust your gut and follow your heart.

~ Quentin Bryce, 

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Overcome The Fear & Embrace New Experiences

Is it that fear and anxiety is over-powering your being?  Are you simply shy or an introvert?  Maybe you could not be bothered or worry about stepping outside your comfort zone.  Connecting with new people awakens new experiences in your life.  We all need to take that small step to seek a wider view and CONNECT with a more diverse array of people.

That is exactly what I did this evening.  On a spur of the moment whim, I was informed of a local social group called CONNECT Tamworth Women’s Network.  Women supporting women… providing a social outlet, chatting and listening, having a laugh, enjoying a meal together and listening to inspiring guest speakers… what better way to spend an evening once a month.

A group of dynamic women with an array of business backgrounds and diverse industries… such as education, health, wellbeing, financial, writing and agriculture.  As guest speakers provide an interesting story, an uplifting experience or sharing their personal knowledge… a group of local women are being empowered and inspired.

“The aim of CONNECT Tamworth Women’s Network is to provide a creative, respectful and nurturing environment that brings together women of all ages, at all stages of their career, to network and help them grow personally and professionally.” 

This is exactly what I was part of this evening.  I was inspired and empowered once again… all because I took that step to try something new, controlled my anxiety and allowed myself to enjoy some time out.

Sometimes when we think about getting to know new people, anxiety kicks in and tries to overpower our rationality.  But if we overcome this urge and realise that the opportunities are out there and new people are great for our soul.  It allows us to open our mind and our heart… to share our passions, to share inspiration and to share our knowledge.

For over 30 years CONNECT Tamworth Women’s Network has been providing an evening of inspiration, empowerment and education for local women in the region.  This group is a not-for-profit organisation, improving the lives of women on a personal level and a professional level.

We enjoyed listening to guest speaker, Published Australian Author Chris Taylor who writes romantic suspense novels.  She also spoke of her heartfelt journey from childhood on a farm in north-west NSW, her passion for reading, her nursing career, her career as a criminal lawyer… to her passion for writing and becoming a published author.  She has published 30 books and sold over 150,000 copies.  She was a very interesting speaker and shared a uniquely inspiring story of her life journey.

Tonight we also enjoyed dinner at the venue Cascada Licensed Restaurant in Tamworth whilst enjoying the evening.  Over dinner, I was able to get to know some more dynamic women and thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and discussions.

Although I usually feel shy, socially awkward and uncomfortable in new groups… I actually felt welcomed and completely comfortable at the first evening event for 2019.  I am so glad that I have joined this new group and eagerly await to attend next month to listen to another interesting guest speaker.  Empowerment is what I strive for and inspiration is a beautiful process.

For more information on CONNECT Tamworth Women’s Network  email connecttamworth@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page.

Take care, Karen.

“When women support each other,

incredible things happen.”

~ Author Unknown

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From Exploiting Women…To The Triumphs of Strong Women

It saddens me that women still have to fight for feminism rights and respect within this world.  Today I tackle a controversial issue that irritates me within the Australian culture… the exploitation of women.  After being faced with an incident last week, it has played on my mind, and now it is time I revealed my annoyance with the way women are looked upon as inferior sexualised objects.  Australia is supposed to be a pretty advanced society and women’s rights have been successfully implemented over this last century.

Despite the strength of many women, we are still faced with sex-based discrimination bringing an abundance of emotional torment to women every day in this country.  Why do some men welcome this exploitation for their mere selfish pleasure?  Why do some women allow themselves to be regarded as the inferior sex and settle for being taken advantage of regularly?

Historically, Australia is a male-dominated society, which started way back in 1788 when the British settled upon this land.  There has predominantly been a lack of respect and inferiority that continued for many generations.  Despite the equity of women becoming more accepted in Australia now… sadly I am reminded that we still have further hurdles.

Thankfully most Australian’s are respectable and there is support for women’s liberation every day around us… and not all men are so superficially challenged.  During this last week, I have witnessed both extremes… from very supportive women to the exploitation of women.

After enjoying several performances and shows during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, I was having a wonderful time and enjoying time away from the farm.  However, there was one particular performance that really did annoy me… which in my opinion, is working against the progress that women have made.  Not to mention names of the “not so great” performing group or venue… the exploitation of a woman within their performance, I found extremely crude and disrespectful.  Not funny at all.

To set the stage for you…

A young woman was “selected” from the audience as a volunteer, which may or may not have been part of the act.  The attractiveness of the young woman was verbally stated as part of the show… but it was the inappropriateness of the in-depth references to her body parts and blatant sexual advances, that I found very offensive. I am not too much of a prude and I don’t mind a little crudeness for humorous purposes.  But the sexual suggestions and inappropriate requests from the all-male performers… such as asking her to stroke the tambourine with intimate references, continuous bending over to take a bow in order to give the drummer a view of her butt in her short shorts, jumping up and down in excitement with men tantalising over bouncing breasts, brazen suggestions for a wet T-shirt to be brought to the stage, the fiddle player “accidentally” on purpose poking her breast with his bow, and the ongoing sexual advances… this was not entertainment but patronising vulgarity.

The saddest part was that this young woman was all too obliging and acted very “ditsy” when carrying on with their show.  Her foolishness within this show, made women appear brainless and cheap.  It made out as if women are worthless and our purpose is only for the sexual connotations for men.  This notion is so prehistoric and I found it crude that this was depicted in this way.  This type of presumptuous demeanor is a tragic insult to women in general.

Women have come so far in this world with equality, through women’s liberation and feminism, and our value has finally been acknowledged.  Sadly, I felt sorry for this woman being exploited (whether she realised it or not).  I felt sorry for the women in the audience (mainly an older generation)… thinking that this was normal back in their day and not considered sexual harassment at all.  And I felt sorry for the men that watched (and maybe quietly enjoyed the show) whether they realised it was disrespectful or not.  As a mother of 2 sons, I would be disgusted and disappointed if my sons treated women like this… and I am grateful that my husband respects women and is not superficial.

I watched the show for a short while, despite their early warning that their aim was to offend people and challenge political incorrectness.  I really thought the show could be quite funny.  Once I realised that this show was far too objectionable for my liking, I did leave the venue, as a personal statement that I did not support the exploitation of women by anyone.

Women are not sexual objects… they do need men to drool over their superficial looks and sexuality.  Women want to feel like a work of art… not a “piece of meat”.  Women have thoughts and feelings… they have opinions and talent… they deserve to be treated with dignity and regarded as an equal gender.  No more, no less, equal.

Although the disrespect may be evoked by many men in our community, it is women who allow them to be disrespectful towards them.  Women must realise their worth and stand up for themselves.  As women, we need to promote the well-being of all women.  If we are more liberated, the men will see that we deserve the respect we seek.

In a paradoxical moment, only several days later, I was able to witness a heartfelt supportive woman.  I attended Beccy Cole’s concert and enjoyed her fun-loving stage presence, her humour and her music.  Something that stuck with me… at the end of her show, her outspoken statements in support of feminism.  She just wants women to be nice to each other and accept ourselves for who we are.  Women need to support each other and boost each other up.  Her kind words really resonated with me, as I totally support this notion.

Similarly, when I attended another big concert “Country Turns Pink” which was raising funds for the McGrath Foundation, I witnessed another inspiring event.  Many music artists showed their support at this event and of women in general.  Beautiful music and lyrics touched the audience thanks to artists such as Tania Kernaghan, Gina Jeffreys, Beccy ColeAdam Harvey and Amber Lawrence.

I would like to share this song I enjoyed when sung by Amber Lawrence as I really loved the beautiful lyrics… “Cheers to the Girls”.  The uplifting song is about women realising their own worth, taking back their power, standing up for themselves and following their dreams.  I am sure that every girl and woman can relate to this song and has felt these sort of feelings at some point in their lives.  This is what we should be promoting for women… and we deserve nothing less.  Listen and enjoy!

Take care, Karen.

“Women of Worth

She is someone’s daughter

She is someone’s friend

She is someone’s sister

She is someone…”

~ Author Unknown

Video Credit: Amber Lawrence & YouTube

The Exploitation of Women is Startling and Beyond Harmful

As a woman, wife and mother, I believe women have been exploited terribly over the years.  Why do we allow the media to put so much pressure on us making us feel inadequate against the “ideal” images portrayed?  The focus on a women’s appearance is very strong throughout our popular culture.  Women’s roles on television and in magazines & newspapers is often seen as a sexualised adornment.

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Despite the women’s movement over the years, it has not substantially changed society’s attitudes towards women, when they are still portrayed in a two-dimensional way.  It is a continuous struggle for the women of today to be seen as strong, important and valued members in our country.

Women have come so far and made significant changes over the years which has forged pathways for other women.  It wasn’t until 1902 that women were given the right to vote in Australia and stand for a federal election.  However women were not present for the first 20 years of Australian politics.  Since the 1970’s women have increased their representation in politics.

Women have made significant strides towards equality in workplaces, at universities, in boardrooms and in Government, taking on leadership roles.   It was 1974 before women were even granted a full adult wage.

Women and girls make up over 50% of the Australian population.  While women comprise of 47% of all employees in Australia, they still earn about $250 less than men each week.  The national gender “pay gap” is 15.3% and has remained between 15%-19% for the past 20 years.

FTF2018_gender_1200.jpg (1200×1440)It was not until 1984 that the Sex Discrimination Act came into force, making sex discrimination and sexual harassment against the law.  This has played an important role in changing community attitudes and helping advance gender equality in our country.

More than 50% of women, aged 18 or older, have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime.  More than 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.  These figures are quite alarming.

Despite the progress, women and girls continue to experience inequality and discrimination, which can limit the choices and opportunities available to them.

There is a competition of ideas about what a women’s role is in our society.  Today, Australian women have many more choices about how to live their lives.  It should be what is right for each woman… as every woman has her own idea as to what fulfillment is for her.  A woman can be a mother, or she can be career-orientated, or both… she can be single or in a relationship of her choice… there is no right or wrong.  Women have the power to exercise their freedom, despite the limitations placed upon them.

Yet why are women still portrayed in the media in an inferior light?  Women are not objects, we are not weak and there is no need for the exploitation of our gender.  How would you men feel, if the roles were reversed?  It is unfair to both genders and is ridiculously accepted in our society.  The air-brushed models and actresses, are not what young women need to be comparing themselves to today.

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As a young girl, at an age where our culture started to define me… I remember the inadequacy I had felt, the inferior complex I developed and the limiting beliefs that I accepted.  Sadly, I never felt “good enough” to be able to be the girl that I thought I was supposed to be and what I perceived as normal in our society.  As young girls we want to be prettier, be slimmer, more curvy, to look different… thinking that would make us more acceptable to others.  Sadly we are never comfortable in our own skin.  To much emphasis is placed on our “looks” and not enough on what true beauty really is.

As a mother, I felt satisfied that I had sons, and not daughters to raise with the unfair burden of sexualised adornment within our society.  But as a woman who has experienced a lot of sadness, judgement and annoyance with an industry that takes advantage of women and their emotions… I have something to say.

After decades of allowing the exploitation of women to affect my own mindset, an inner fight refusing acceptance and the reliance on depression/anxiety medication… I want to educate others with what I have learned.  I now realise that I want to protect the esteem of girls and young women in our society.  I want my nieces and my son’s partners and all young females to not accept and under-value their self-worth because of a culture that is unfair to a women’s sense of self.  Every girl and woman is of value… we are all unique and on our own journey in this world.  We all need to like ourselves and learn to love the person you are.

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I ask you to think about how you would feel if it were your daughter or your sister, being exploited in that magazine or in the movie you are watching.  We need to band together, boosting up the girls and women in our lives, and protecting our loved ones, ensuring their self-esteem is not harmed and they are aware of their self-worth.

When I think about how far women have really come and the obstacles they have incurred, it really is a remarkable achievement in improving the lives of women today.  Don’t let our media culture affect the young women in our society.  They are the future of our country… our future mothers, our future leaders and we need to ensure they develop into confident women of value.  Women are worth no more or no less… we just balance life with our men.  Let the women in your life inspire you and raise your daughters to be those inspiring women.

Take care, Karen.

“A women should be two things:

who and what she wants.”

~ Coco Chanel

(French Fashion Designer & Business Woman)

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The Truth About C.W.A. Scones, Valuable Support & Lobbyists

Country Women’s Association or CWA for short, are renowned for their scones and delicious baking… but there is so much more.  The largest women’s organisation in Australia that gives country women a voice and aims to improve conditions for country women and their families.

We have been called “Cranky Women’s Association” and “Chicks With Attitude”.  In my opinion… the CWA acronym should really stand for “Courageous Women Appeal”.

With over 8,000 members, CWA offers a range of services from being a social outlet for women… to lobbying the Governments for change.  CWA is at the centre of it all… helping the local community and creating a network of support.  CWA provides a forum for all women

I did not even know what CWA was all about, until I joined a small rural CWA branch 8 years ago.  From my first meeting, I was inspired… joined up and unaware that a friendly group of women, would impact my life so significantly.  First I enjoyed having an outlet where once a month I could leave the farm and enjoy other women’s conversation, stories were shared and friendships formed.  As I started to understand how CWA really works, I was enthusiastic to get involved more and make a difference.

CWA begin back in 1922 when country women were fighting isolation and a lack of health facilities.  Within the first year, these women became a unified and resourceful group.  Can you imagine what it must have been like for these women and to appreciate the strength and commitment they had.  They worked tirelessly to set up baby health care centres, fund bush nurses, build and staff maternity wards, hospitals and schools.  These women used initiative and were lobbyists making it happen.  They provided social activities, educational, recreational and medical facilities.

Many people may not know this, but CWA was responsible for many significant improvements in our communities such as:

  • Baby Health Care Centres
  • School zones flashing lights
  • White lines put on bitumen country roads
  • Safety seat belts on buses
  • Rest Rooms
  • Home Hospitality
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Community Health Centres
  • Improved Dental Services
  • Prevention of Domestic Violence
  • Low-alcohol Beer
  • On-Farm Quad Bike Safety
  • Mental Health Support

The biggest fundraiser for CWA is the Tea Rooms at the Sydney Royal Easter Show where more than 350 volunteers work, bake and help feed a hungry crowd during the 12-day show.  CWA has served scones at the Easter Show for more than 60 years.  They bake and sell over 50,000 scones as well as a variety of other food and beverages.

CWA fundraising efforts support community members by way of:

  • Educational Grants & Scholarships – for individuals applying for a variety of scholarships each year, for their education in schooling, artistic ability, hospitality, humanitarian and the health industry.
  • Medical Research – to assist in the research of medical projects.  Current project being funded is the research for Endometriosis.
  • Disaster Relief Fund – to assist people and communities in need as a result of a disaster.  Current disaster relief is Drought Assistance and the Tathra Bushfires.

CWA is also involved in learning, competitions and personal achievements all throughout the year in:

  • International – Country of Study, Competitions & ACWW (Associated Country Women of the World).
  • Agricultural & Environmental – Study of Flora, Fauna, Foe & Primary Product, which are selected each year.
  • Cultural – events, competitions, tours, photography & writing.
  • Handicraft – Branch, Group & State Handicraft Competitions.
  • The Land Cookery – Competition as per Cookery Schedule and sponsored by The Land newspaper.
  • Hospital Support – support hospitals, Ronald McDonald House, nursing homes & women’s refuges by donating knitted & crocheted rugs, teddies, breast cancer cushions, premmie baby clothes, stillborn dresses and Emergency Packs.
  • Social Issues – equity of access to services in rural, remote & regional areas, regional development and gender equity.

CWA of NSW members comprise of women from all walks of life in town and country.  There is over 370 local branches statewide, working not only for the overall aims of the organisation but often for very specific local issues.  There are 30 Groups which cover all branches and each Group meets quarterly to coordinate activities and hear reports from State Executive.

CWA of NSW hold a State Conference each year in May, for members to discuss and debate issues to bring legislative change.  When I attended my first CWA State Conference, I realised the magnitude of what CWA is all about.  It really opened my eyes and to see the significant difference that CWA makes at a State level… is life-changing.

With a changing society, CWA branches have been changing as a result, in the last few years.  With full-time working women, there are more Evening branches now as well as weekend, sunrise and an online CWA branch.  I think CWA now allows for a wider age range of women and each generation can contribute in different ways.

We have a group of women… with a power house of experience over many years in CWA… and younger members with a power house of resources and knowledge to share.  So although the face of CWA may be changing, the core values and purpose of CWA remains as strong as ever.  Women of all ages with a variety of expertise are still unified, resourceful with strength of character, continuing to improve our lives.

So there you have it… CWA is definitely “Not Just Tea & Scones”.  They are making a difference in our lives.  They have a voice in the nation’s affairs but also provide a valuable service to our country.  A remarkable organisation, that makes me proud.

For more information see CWA of NSW.

Take care, Karen.

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