What great political divide

aussie_aussie_aussie_oi_oi_light_tshirtYou have to feel for the long-term Labor follower who bailed up Julia Gillard on radio the other day decreeing she has just five months to convince him to stick with the party. It’ll be the first time ever he’ll vote against Labor!

Oh the angst of it all.

It seems the lack of quality candidates in this 2013 election is breaking the hearts of many Australians.

Where is that political divide that once pitted family member against family member? The battlers, the do-gooders and the well-heeled going head to head around the dinner table trying to convince each other who best to run the country.

Now it seems these socio-economic groups have merged into one, united in voice that there is no choice!

So in the lead up to September 14 one can only hope that a clear winner can and will emerge.

Don’t be fooled by the polls that, at present, put Tony Abbott ahead in the popularity stakes. He has a lot of ground to make up with the Australian public, not only with steadfast Liberal supporters but also with traditional Labor voters.

The groundswell consensus is that the cringe factor is alive and well on both sides of the political fence.

In a Ray Morgan poll yesterday, in which I gladly signed up to, the question was should the election be held tomorrow instead of September.

My response. Hell no. I want to see Tony stuff up big time, or shine. I want to see the tide turn even more towards Julia, or return in her favour in such a way that there is no doubt in my mind who should be leading this country.

One thing is for sure, I’m glad she called the election for so far ahead in the year. I need time to really think about this because right now, I don’t want any of them.

Judy Wilkinson is a freelance journalist who will be out of the country during the September election, forcing her into an earlier postal vote.

Oh for the love of money

Sitting Up, painting by Otto Eerelman, 1839-1926.

Sitting Up, painting by Otto Eerelman, 1839-1926.

If only I could confirm life after leaving work is everything it’s cracked up to be: sitting around in the sunshine, long walks in the park, catch-ups with friends at all those little cafes around town, plotting one’s future financial successes. The truth is living the leisurely life is, er… hard work. I’m ready to jump back into the workforce full-throttle.

Sure there are times when I’ve thought that if I could I would live like this for as long as I can. But therein lies the rub. Who can afford to sit around earning nought?

Not me. Staring a life of frugality in the face on a daily basis is not a future worth contemplating. So after giving myself permission to take a few months off to regain that second wind, to whip myself into shape, I’ve decided to put myself out there in earnest. Yes, I’ve polished up the resume and I’m applying for jobs.

Why bother you ask when you’re taking off overseas? Well, there’s no guarantee those plans will come off, so if I see a job worthy of an application I’ve decided to go for it.

If they want me, they’ll wait until I get that overseas volunteer post out of my system. Instead of starting the job yesterday, I’ll start it tomorrow.

You see I have learnt some lessons from the past. Work-life balance, respect for one’s time, one’s expertise is what I’m about these days. When a company says jump, I plan to say for how much?

Yes, I know this line of thinking is bucking the business trend right now. Post-GFC is all about do more for less but when you’ve been doing more, and more, and more for more than two decades, how much more can you realistically give at a discount?

I’ll settle for less for sure, I’ll have to but I do expect fewer hours to be tied to that pay slip.

If not, Panama [http://expatsparadise.com/panama/pros-cons-of-living-in-panama] could be looking very attractive, a place where one can relocate for work and find balance in a society that lives extremely well, and pays well thanks to its tax haven status!

Judy Wilkinson is a freelance journalist who will be in Panama in April to explore how companies run their business economically, without heavy restrictions, regulations, or taxes that hinder growth.

 

Where have all the REAL estate agents gone?

Packing up your life to move abroad is fraught with frustration. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it isn’t, or that it is easy.

It sounds exciting, and it is, but this will be the seventh move and, if anything, it gets harder to navigate and negotiate your way through the maze of people that want to “help” you realise your dream.

Image

The complication is owning your own furnished home, the mortgage that goes with it and all those treasured possessions needing somewhere to be stored.

It is sheer hard work compressing your life into one suitcase and a carry-on.

Of course when you start out on a journey of a lifetime, these appear only minor hurdles to overcome. So it doesn’t help when the final factor affecting the move is in the control of those who tell you what you want to hear – until it is time to get “real”.

Six months ago UNREAL estate agents said: “Yes, we can do this, it will only cost you that and we’ll easily get this amount, your place will rent quickly.”

Impressive.

So you take a few months to meticulously plan your exit only to find when it’s time to hand it over to those UNREAL agents, their original response is now:  “That was then, things have turned down in Sydney, maybe you should reconsider a furnished rental, the market for that is small, people like to bring their own possessions into a home – and did we mention our commission included GST plus there’ll be a management charge of…?”

Despite those poor odds, they were still prepared to take it on.

That was a month ago. The furnished house is still unrented.

In a bid to help the agent I rewrote the blurb, and was thanked with a bill for advertising, on top of the fee for professional photos.

With money going out and none coming in, I decide to assist again by placing my home on free lists like Gumtree and Craigslist only to be bombarded with more agents calling to ask whether they could “help”. One specialised in reducing mortgages, another in depreciation schedules.

No. I just need a tenant.

I suppose I should be grateful for their offers, but if they were REAL they would have said they had someone on their list chomping at the bit for a furnished home in my area. Instead I was the prize, another name to be added to their rental rolls.

So with lots of help but few bites and no delivery of a REAL tenant, maybe I should have been more sympathetic to the guy who showed the most interest in renting my home. Trouble was, his life was in turmoil. He was going through a divorce or separation and while he thought the rent was reasonable, he could only scrape together $300 less than the asking price.

Given there is no turning back, the trip of a lifetime may get reduced to a few months of a lifetime, but I’m still optimistic of an eleventh-hour saviour – that person who walks through the door, loves my house, thinks the price is right and, better still, wants it for the next 12 months!

Fingers crossed.

Judy Wilkinson is a freelance journalist who from April hopes to be taking a year to travel the breadth and depth of Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America.

Happy wife, happy life

It pays to start out early in life learning communication techniques that will last a lifetime!

It pays to start out early in life learning communication techniques that will last a lifetime!

An American friend of mine is obsessed with Australian radio. He’s visited here a few times and back home he streams talkback daily to get his fix on topics important to Aussies.

You’d have to wonder why bother, our talkback ain’t that grand, but he thrives on it.

When asked why, he replies our choice of subjects is so refreshing.

We are open to all manner of issues – local and global, pertinent and petty.

It is true that talkback there is obsessed with, well, issues stateside.

World news has to be amazingly big to make the six o’clock news, let alone discussed on local radio.

And the commentators in the US are hamstrung by a string of taboos.

Here we can just let rip into each other [often uninformed]. Over there you need to have your facts 99.9 per cent straight for fear of being sued. Diplomacy is paramount. Provoking someone isn’t the done thing. Keep calm and always check your remarks.

So I guess you can see why Aussies’ running off at the mouth would be so entertaining.

When the petty for some but pertinent for others subject of “happy wife, happy life” reared its head on 2UE morning drive-time talkback, it perplexed the American as the saying isn’t well-known there.

It got us debating why in supposed nonsexist democratic societies is it incumbent on the man to make the woman happy? Isn’t it a two-way street? So why spend time on talkback exploring it?

Don't shake the leaves!

Don’t shake the leaves!

Welcome to the ways of Australia.

I guess when the focus is offend at your own peril, most American’s run for deep cover. They are taught not to rock the boat. In fact, the mantra is avoid conflict, especially in relationship to women, at every turn.

So if there are issues, how to do you explore them if you can’t talk about them?

Surely it is unhealthy to bottle it up!

My response was if the spouse ain’t happy, better find out why as things can deteriorate quickly.

But how do you navigate your way through if it isn’t a skill you’re skilled at!

Good point.

First, more often than not it will require one level-thinking partner to take the lead.

But which one? Back to “happy wife, happy life”.

It really works when the male takes the higher ground. It sends a strong message to the other party. “Don’t be petty”, without actually having to say it, leaving their dignity intact!

Don’t worry, there will be times when the female will have to reciprocate but a calm, collective bloke who listens and better still takes positive action based on what’s being said will win the day, every day.

So for those well intrenched in the Aussie habit of saying it as you see it, stop, take a moment, even get a few tips from this site www.divorcenet.com/states/nationwide/secrets_for_great_marriage aimed at new, old and fraying relationships 🙂

Judy Wilkinson is a freelance journalist who will be travelling across the US, Central and South America from April 2013 relaying stories ©, pertinent and petty, that count. 

Charity begins at home

At home or abroad, there's always someone in need!

At home or abroad, there’s always someone in need!

These days walking through the local mall has become a game of dodge the not-for-profits. Notice they come in fits and waves, and they have this uncanny knack of bothering you when you’re time poor and shopping list heavy?

Attempts to wave them away only seems to encourage them to skip beside you spruiking those lines aimed at making one feel guilty for not stopping to show any sympathy for their cause.

One recent response was “thank you but I support four charities already, I can’t take any more on”. For some, they let you pass, for others it just spurs them on. “You give to four, well I’m sure you can add one more.”

No, I can’t. It is my choice who I support and I deliberated long and hard about who I would give my hard-earned cash to.

And why is it when I’m dressed to the nines, busy as all hell, I get hailed down without fail. When I’m wearing my tracky dacks, have time to talk, I don’t.

So do they think I look like someone with a few coins to spare when I’ve got my business face on, and therefore I don’t have a brass razoo on the days I’m casually dressed fighting through the crowds to get to the gym?

Reminds me of the treatment one gets in the local designer stores. Ignored if not dressed in a manner becoming to the shop assistant!

Breadwinner!

Fed by a big-hearted person!

I’ve often wanted to ask that question of not-for-profit spruikers. So I did the other day and was surprised by the response.

Yes, they were interested in people who presented themselves in a certain way but more often than not they zeroed in on those with a “kind smile” as that denoted a “big heart” and a big heart in their world translates into dollars and support for their cause.

Thinking back to the times I was rushing through the mall, I fail to see I had a smile on my dial, more a worried frown of being able to get through that long shopping list in my lunch half hour.

Now perhaps I should show more empathy for the work they are trying to do but given recent reports about door to door salesmen and it being illegal to knock on doors that have a sign saying “no hawkers” [note, doesn’t work with junk mail signs], I pictured myself walking down the mall dressed up and wearing a piece of bling around my neck with said sign that I could thrust in the spruikers faces as I rushed by.

After all, charity [discussions] begin at home, not in the streets of the mall.

Judy Wilkinson is a freelance journalist who has volunteered to teach English to students in disadvantaged schools in Costa Rica during 2013.