Wild Women Wakening: one month after…

Many years ago I read Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ groundbreaking book “Women That Run with the Wolves”.

Not the same cover, but voilà... The book that found me at Cairns airport.
Not the same cover, but voilà… The book that found me at Cairns airport.

At least for me it was completely groundbreaking. It gave me the possibility of re-reading stories that are part of universal lore presented in an erudite, “exegetic” book. As it happens with many of these good books, WTRWTW crossed my path by chance (or perhaps not) at Cairns airport while waiting for a connecting flight back to Sydney. I had to “kill” nearly four hours in between flights, so I decided that the best thing to do would be to buy myself a book. Probably the best “impulse purchase” of my whole life, and believe me when I say I’ve allowed myself more than my fair share of impulse purchases …

Nearly nineteen years after that afternoon at Cairns airport, a few weeks ago at the gym, I bumped into Lauren Kennedy, one of my gym and aqua mates. After the Body Balance class we both took, she pinned up a poster on the communal corkboard at the entrance:

Wild Women Wakening poster workshop.
Wild Women Wakening poster workshop, or how to follow a hunch.

I didn’t have to think it over twice, and announced to Lauren that I wanted to participate and a few hours later I signed up for Wild Women Wakening. More often than not, those hunches tend to work to my advantage when they’re informed by deep intuitive knowledge rather than on a whim. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, the wolves and the enormous wealth of intuitive knowledge  that “Women That Run with the Wolves” brought into my life was conjured up from my subconscious depths. Yay! 🙂

On Day 1, though, I was feeling really sad and disconnected. My creative thoughts had gone missing in action, until Lauren handed us our sketchbooks. My drawing is pretty bad, but colour pencils lit a pilot creative light that flickered on. I wrote this:

We spoke about “La Loba” and read the short story from WTRWTW. I had this vision of a trip in the desert, with all its typical colours. I’m driving a Tesla car, and quickly find myself in the middle of nowhere. Fear turns into panic and I stop.

The sky is studded by a million stars and I begin to yield into the grandeur of its infinity and mystery.

“I don’t know where I am. I don’t know and I don’t care.

No sé dónde estoy. No sé ni me importa.

Without giving it a second thought, I step out of the car. Nothing around me, nothing but “darkness visible”.

I should be…


But I am not! And yet I know I’m not alone. She’s with me — La Loba!

I don’t dare turn around. My feet won’t move.


Stars everywhere, but no Moon.

‘Hear me!’ says La Loba. ‘Oi!’

I feel like an impostor, but she doesn’t know.

‘Hear me!’ she repeats. ‘You’ll be fine. You’re not alone. You’ll be a friend of the stars. I’m here and so are the bones… Those bones…’

At the sole mention of bones, I’m left wondering if I should be afraid, but I’m not.

‘I’ll teach you things. You’ll start with bones and create life. BE LIFE! You’re not alone!

In all fairness to my dear readers, I have to say I had intended to write a “diary” of the workshop, which has already run for a whole month and will continue until the end of April. But in the same breath I decided that the creative “muscle” that I’m exercising every Monday morning doesn’t need to become part of a discussion in the online world. Some “innerspaces” should remain so, methinks. Self-marketing time lasted almost two years (part of 2014 and most of 2015).  I’m now engaged in self-reflection, and enjoying it 🙂

All the same I’d love to mention my fearless fellow “creatresses”, Marilyn and Claire, in whom I found kindred spirits, as well as in Lauren herself. It’s become a very exciting part of my weekly routine to catch up with them in that beautiful space we share in Mount Victoria, and share our personal creative journeys in a spirit of cooperation and mutual support.

Have a nice evening and see ya later, FFJ 🙂

Double standards… Mamamia!

What’s the meaning of gender equality? For some it seems it’s got to do with outrage when a female is at the receiving end of sexist treatment, but when a man is faced with the same situation, he’s supposed to put up with it. Or isn’t he?

Yes, that’s what Amy Stockwell from Mamamia wrote in an article that has left me scratching my head.  She seems to imply that women are some kind of untouchable, unassailable class that has to be respected, whereas men are fair game and have to cop whatever comes their way.  Here in Australia we’re living in ‘interesting times’.

‘Sexism towards men (or reverse-sexism) simply does not exist,’ says Amy.

I would’ve loved her way of thinking years ago, when I was a man-hater. Yeah, I was a man-hater because of my own issues, which could take up a lot longer to discuss than what’s reasonable for a blog post. And yet I wanted a man to love me.  My level of delusion knew no bounds. Nobody can love or respect if they aren’t loved or respected in return. But let’s stick to respect. Yeah, respect—an essential element of all human relationships.

As Germaine Greer said once, we know that some men hate all women all the time. Those men are called misogynists. Their misogyny manifests itself in many different ways, such as cyberbullying, abusing their female friends and partners—both physically and emotionally—and generally disrespecting any female in their workplace and social life. Even if in some cases their attitudes don’t qualify as crime, they’re still destructive. Very destructive.

But we all know a female or two who’ll play the ‘victim card’ in order to take advantage of a man. It seems that for some enlightened thinkers, that’s absolutely all right simply because women have always experienced sexism from men. So if a man cops sexism from a woman, that’s fine and dandy.

Well, I beg to differ …

It’s the human race that is set to suffer in these cases. A cycle of abuse and revenge between the sexes isn’t good for humanity as a whole. It tears the social fabric. One thing is a woman who kills an abuser in self-defence and quite another is a self-defined feminist ‘girlie’ who believes that men should be treated with derision simply because they’re men.

A few days after Amy Stockwell published her so-called ‘opinion piece’ in the Mamamia site, Australians woke up to the news that former Australian Army Chief Lt. Gen. David Morrison was named 2016 Australian of the Year. An Army veteran with a steely look, straight and a WASP, was made Australian of the Year for his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion. His acceptance speech is a game changer. You can watch it below.

So, to cut a long story short and from my humble point of view, a columnist who peddles revenge on men on account of the wrongs done by men to women is dwarfed into insignificance by a well deserved award given to a worthy man who’s made the fight for equality his own cause. For those who don’t believe me, here’s David Morrison’s speech as Army Chief, filmed over two years ago.

 Catcha later, FFJ 🙂

Friendship and good wine / Amistad y buen vino

This isn’t just a bottle of great Chilean wine; it’s the symbol of a friendship. A friendship for life. Sadly my friend Valentín’s life came to an end. I still don’t know how or why, and it does matter.

Esto no es solamente una botella de un gran vino chileno; es el símbolo de una amistad. Una amistad de por vida. Lamentablemente la vida de mi amigo Valentín llegó a su fin. Aún no sé cómo o por qué, y realmente me importa.

When wine isn't just wine but a form of connection... Cuando el vino no es solamente vino, sino una forma de conectarse...
When wine isn’t just wine but a form of connection…
Cuando el vino no es solamente vino, sino una forma de conectarse…

Valentín lived an ocean away from me, but we were close anyway. WhatsApp made it possible for us to chat almost on a daily basis, as well as Facebook. He was (bugger, it’s hard to use the past tense) an intelligent man with a vast array of interests, including some shared ones such as music, aikido and cats.

Valentín vivía a un océano de distancia, pero aún así estábamos cerca. WhatsApp nos facilitó la posibilidad de chatear casi todos los días, al igual que Facebook. Él era (la mierda, es duro tener que hablar en pasado) un hombre inteligente con intereses vastamente variados, incluyendo los que compartíamos, tales como la música, el aikido y los gatos.

Together with my other legendary friend Ale “El Turco”, he was a pillar of support and understanding at the time I experienced one of the blackest depressions of my life in the year 1997. We were an inseparable trio that frequented pubs and cafés in Buenos Aires in the ’90’s and early naughties, until I moved to Sydney for good.

Junto con mi otro amigo legendario Ale “El Turco”, fue de gran ayuda y comprensión cuando experimenté una de las depresiones más negras de mi vida en el año 1997. Formábamos un trío inseparable que frecuentaba los pubs y cafés de Buenos Aires en los años ’90 y al inicio del nuevo milenio, hasta que me mudé definitivamente a Sydney.

When I visited family and friends in Buenos Aires in late 2013, I remember that catching up with both Valentín and Ale “El Turco” was very much like “picking it up from where we left it off”. I did see more of Valentín and spoke to him on the phone almost every day during my stay in Buenos Aires. The time difference between Australia (EST) and Argentina is considerable (13 hours that become 14 during DST), and that made it difficult for us to speak on the phone, but WhatsApp made frequent communication possible. SMSing may not be the same thing, but it’s still better than nothing.

Cuando visité a mi familia y amigos en Buenos Aires hacia fines del 2013, recuerdo que el encuentro con Valentín y Ale “El Turco” fue muy como retomar donde habíamos dejado. Lo vi más veces a Valentín y hablé con él por teléfono casi todos los días durante mi estadía en Buenos Aires. La diferencia horaria entre Australia (hora del este) y Argentina es considerable (13 horas que se convierten en 14 durante el verano) y nos hicieron difícil hablar por teléfono, pero WhatsApp hizo posible la comunicación frecuente. Los mensajes de texto no serán lo mismo, pero son mejores que nada.

It’s hard for me to write when I’m overwhelmed by sadness, but I wanted to celebrate Valentín’s life, a savvy pathologist, a wine lover, a foodie, devoted son, former stepdad and a friend. I’ve been happy and lucky to have him in my life for 20 years. Cheers, Primushko!

Es duro para mí escribir cuando me embarga la tristeza, pero quería celebrar la vida de Valentín, un patólogo muy capaz, amante del vino y de la comida, hijo devoto, padrastro cariñoso, y amigo. He tenido el gusto y la buena suerte de que haya sido parte de mi vida durante 20 años. ¡Salud, Primushko!

A la memoria de mi querida tía María / In the memory of my beloved Aunty Maria

Café y cariño: recordando a mi tía María. Coffee and affection: remembering Aunty María. Image by Andy Rogers, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/cobaltfish/. Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
Café y cariño: recordando a mi tía María.
Coffee and affection: remembering Aunty María.
Image by Andy Rogers, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/cobaltfish/. Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0


Es la primera vez que escribo un artículo en castellano y por una muy buena razón: quiero compartir el grato recuerdo de mi tía María, fallecida a los 94 años de edad. Ocupó un lugar especial en mi vida, durante mi infancia, adolescencia y edad adulta.

It’s the first time I write a blog post in Spanish and for a very good reason: I want to share my fond memories of my Aunty María, gone at age 94. She had a very special place in my life, during my childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

María “fue” muchísimas cosas: la tía paciente que nos traía Vascolet con vainillas cuando mis hermanos, mis primos y yo eramos chicos, y lo tomábamos en la pileta de su casa. “Sánguches” de salame también. ¡Gracias a mi prima Laura por recordármelo! Más tarde, en mi adolescencia, de alguna manera influyó para que yo eligiese estudiar el traductorado. “Traduttore, tradittore,” decía María. Una vez me dijo que le hubiese gustado trabajar de intérprete en un barco. Nacida en Italia, aprendió a hablar, leer y escribir en castellano perfectamente cuando emigró a Argentina.

Maria “was” many things: the patient aunty who used to bring us chocolate milk with vanilla sugar biscuits when my brothers, my cousins and I were children, and we used to have them in the swimming pool at her place. Salami sandwiches as well—thanks to my cousin Laura for reminding me! Later, in my adolescence, she was somehow influential in my decision to become a translator. ‘Traduttore, tradittore,” Maria used to say. She once told me that she would’ve loved to work as an interpreter on an ocean liner. Born in Italy, she learned how to speak, read and write in Spanish perfectly when she migrated to Argentina.

En mi edad adulta, María era el ejemplo vivo de la persona que no me juzgaba y que me aceptaba tal y como soy. Me regaló la primera cafetera espresso de mi vida y me enseñó a disfrutar del buen café con bomboncitos Baci. Me cubrió de afecto y compasión cuando llegó el diagnóstico de bipolaridad.

When I became a grown-up, Maria was the living example of the non-judgmental person who accepted me as I was. She gave me my first espresso caffettiera and taught me how to enjoy good coffee with Baci chocolates. She showered me with affection and compassion when I was diagnosed as bipolar.

Daba gusto charlar con ella sobre yoga, meditación y temas espirituales. Me mandó tarjetas de Navidad lindísimas después que me mudé a Sydney.

It was a pleasure to talk to her about yoga, meditation and spiritual topics. She sent me beautiful Christmas cards after I moved to Sydney.

Le tocó vivir pérdidas terribles: su hijo mayor murió en la temprana infancia, y sus otros tres hijos en la edad adulta. María no se merecía un dolor semejante …

She experienced terrible losses: her eldest son died in infancy and her other three sons passed away in adulthood. Maria didn’t deserve such grief and sorrow …

La vida de mi tía María se apagó mientras dormía, a los 94 años de edad. ¡Adiós María! Pero tu recuerdo y mi amor por el café van a seguir intactos para siempre.

Aunty Maria’s life faded in her sleep, at age 94. Goodbye Maria! But your memory and my love of coffee will remain intact forever.