Growing up Asian in Australia – almost

The Family Law image –

I am not who you think I am. I am more than my skin portrays, more than my almond shaped eyes and once upon a time black glossy hair. I am more….

I grew up holding fast to the dated 70s term ‘Eurasian’, as that is who I am and what I am.

No it is not some obscure Eastern European country (a mistake a school mate made). And no it is not some pop band.

My parents were radical in their day. My white Australian mother married a Malaysian born Chinese man. Hence my Eurasian title. I held this title close because half caste, Ching Chong and Susie Wong didn’t quite cut it when I was 8 years old. I struggled with my cultural identity and found the journey of being different in a small, conservative Rural Australian town very hard at times.

We were not as Chinese as some of my cousins and we were not as Aussie as my friends. We ate spaghetti with chopsticks and Mum and Dad made Lap Chong, a dried cured pork sausage that hung in wire boxes in the shed.

In recent years the struggle for me has dissipated. There are bigger fish to fry so to speak. But I am always interested to read about issues of identity and this piece by Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen sparked my interest and has taken me to Benjamin Law’s new series The Family Law. No I am not a typical Asian gal but many may have made the mistake of thinking I am.

Nowadays it does not matter as much. I know I am more…


New Year

It is a new day, a new year.

First coffee on my own.
New lip colour.
Some time to reflect, give thanks, plan and be present.
This year I want to remember that my identity is not in my man, my kids, work, money, health, body or mind.
My identity is not bound up in how I perform, where I go, what I win or lose.
I am not my friends, my past or my future.
My true identity is found in Him. 
This I need to know this New Year.

The Project

John Dewey(1916) wrote that “we grow as we choose the projects by which we create our identities.”

What projects do you consider when there is an interruption to the ordinary flow of things? When the normal routine  habits are disabled? When you confront novelty, new ideas or something unexpected?

I am interested in this idea that we are active agents, choosing the projects that characterise and define our life, shape and determine our identities.

We are all in the process of being, becoming the person that we identified as ‘me’. The woman, man, parent, teacher, writer, builder, lover, fighter, preacher and more. The narrative of our life is in constant edit, the framework is there, the main ideas are evolving and connections are being made. We are continually making space to understand who we are in relation to who other people are. Knowing helps us to become. Choosing the projects shape our identity.

Know Yourself: Part 2

This images captures some feeling about being a busy woman- identified and perhaps objectified by how she presents, what she looks like, what she is wearing. All contained into one neat box.

Just as we can be living stories -our body, our self telling others around us so much about our life without uttering a word – we can be captured by an idea of self all the same. Who amongst us still buys the same brand of jeans and has been doing so for a decade? We wear our hair in the same style and our wardrobe is of the same shades of black, grey and navy. We talk a certain way because we are influenced by the people we ‘hang out’ with, we use their words and intonations when we speak.  The places we go, the things we buy, value and cherish all form the sides of that box.

The challenge for me this year is to know myself and be wiling to acknowledge ways that I have been boxed in by my sense of self, or by the expectations of others. What kind of box do you inhabit?

The Good Mother

How to be a Good Mother with Sharon Horgan?  Are you a good mother, Ms Horgan? Well who is a good mother? Over the years I have read, chatted, written and reflected on this notion of being a ‘good’ mother. I have had my own identity crisis as I transitioned from independent, smart working woman into stay at home mother. Trapped. Grounded. For life….or so it seemed at the time.

But Horgan’s cheeky and humorous investigation of what constitutes a good mother is amazing. Frankly, I did not know what ‘good’ mothers were out there. Horgan interviews such a variety of women who believe that they are ‘good’ women you would be forgiven for thinking that she has interviewed different species of animal. Motherhood is hardwork, emotionally and physically demanding. And something no person or text book can prepare you for. So the women that appear in this documentary have all found their own way to mother.

Lynnea is a natural earth mother type who is a zealous placenta enthusiast. She will create ‘prints’ of your afterbirth, make charms, placenta smoothies and placenta capsules ( think steamed, dehydrated, ground placenta). Ah hhmm, I kid you not! Then there is Daria who is an ‘elimination communication’ advocate – yep, that means no nappies day or night, but she has such perfect synchronicity with her baby that she knows when they need to go poo.

Horgan also introduces viewers to a stripper Mum, an IT junkie mum who allows technology to organise her mothering, a woman who did not want kids and another Charlene, who has 6 kids at 27 years old and home schools them all.

My notion of motherhood has been challenged. Mothers don’t all look like me. Or my own mother. Or my friends that are mums. The good mother comes in many different forms. Each one loves and cares for her kids in the best way she knows how. As I know you do too, if you are a mum. Now that is worth celebrating.

The Search for Authenticity

image from the Resurgence

I have been thinking about this idea of authenticity a lot lately. And simultaneously the notion of identity. It seems to me that as individuals, families, communities as a society we are not happy with who we are, who we have become and indeed who we envisage ourselves becoming. Being authentic in today’s media and technology saturated world is harder than you might imagine. Nick Bogardus writes:

Millennials value authenticity, but we have no idea how to be authentic. Just look at the social media habits. We spend the majority of our days adjusting our image online for our friends rather than being known by them. We text instead of have verbal conversations…. we base our identities on the same things our parents did.

Bogardus points out that we no longer believe in the Western American Dream equivalent and there is a lot of evidence in people for a longing for the past, a simple life, a thoughtful existence and a meaning to just belong.

The search for authenticity takes people to many places.  They quit sugar and carbs, they exercise in intense people groups with high accountability, they meditate and refocus in retreats, they pay homage to and worship the environment by fixing the damage to the local landscape, they raise money for sickness and disease, they write letters and lobby  politicians to defend asylum seekers and advocate for freedom for those caught up in human trafficking, they dig veggie patches, hunt and forage, they knit and sew they thrift and busk, they join community choirs, sports clubs, book clubs. We make. We create. We try to connect. But it would seem we  still fail.

Until Millennials come to trust Jesus, they will live life like Facebook: confusing connection for intimacy, and a self-edited presentation of themselves online for really being known. Until then, they will continue to confuse recycling for justification, simple living for sanctification, and gardening for the in-breaking of God’s kingdom. You can read more of Bogardus  @ the Resurgence.