Oh hello… thank god you’re here! I appear be stuck in a bog of depressing songs, poems and even films devoted to the month of November.
Take it from me, whatever else you do this month, just be grateful you’re an antipodean. Because every one of our artistic northern cousins, from Emily Bronte to Tom Waites, appear to have mourned the second last month of the year.
Let’s be clear about this, November might be the month to remember, but we don’t need to feel so glum about it. The next four weeks should be devoted to reflections of just how fast this year has gone, the people you’ve met, the great times you’ve had and the plans you’re making.
In Australia, November is all about the Melbourne Cup and facial hair.
Good thing the former falls so early in the month, given how much we drink in the name of a horse race and a garish collection of hats. Survival entails plastic cups of spumante and a packet of chips in a paper bowl, the remnants of which are still there three weeks later.
And learning to be OK with the fact the men in our life have all started to resemble the Australian cricket team, circa 1970…
To market, to market
In season in November are: blueberries, star fruit, red papaya, watermelon, oranges, peas, sweet corn, zucchini, silverbeet, chilli, spinach and sugar snap peas.
November’s Good Housekeeping is celebrating the 50th anniversary of their “Hints from Heloise” column. As is probably obvious by now, this magazine gets the prize for coming over completely OCD with regard to cleanliness and organisation, and as it turns out Heloise is the one we can thank for that!
Just for a treat the editors have included a PDF of the first “changing of the guard” column, written in November 1983 by Heloise’s daughter, who I am assume was also called Heloise. The hairstyle alone is worth a gander and for full effect, may I suggest that you read it to yourself in Heloise’s native Texan accent. Here’s my question: Just how does R. Cruchen manage to leave the house in the morning?
November’s flower is the Chrysanthemum.
Does anyone else think of these as a more sophisticated version of the Gerbera; basically an uninspiring flower that comes in a whole lot of great colours? Maybe that’s a bit harsh.
Apparently the Chrysanthemum originated in China where they were considered one of only four “noble plants” because of their longetivity-boosting properties.
They are a symbol of cheerfulness and optimism, two qualities we probably all need at this time of year.
In the meantime, here are ten things you can do to feel better right now.
Personally, I like the point about ‘fear’ – it’s such a tiring emotion, why do we invest so much time in it?
I recently attended a workshop on the art of “mindfulness” where we were told that by allowing ourselves to feel the full weight of whatever emotion was consuming our mind at the time, we actually release it.
Whatever you make of that, it can’t hurt to be reminded of it from time to time.
November’s full moon falls on the 29th…
…And astrologers predict it will be a time of electricity, enthusiasm and wit.
But there is a warning for those among us who prefer to always keep things ‘light’ because by doing so we prevent the discovery of the real truths about ourselves.
Hint: Beware escapist tendencies!
This month’s tidbit from the aisles of my local supermarket is brought you by the food group ‘sugar’ and inspired by this incredible read about America’s obsession with candy.
Words can’t explain just how much sugar is captured in these paragraphs, so you’ll just have to read it.
Doing so made me realise, with some guilt, that I can never leave the supermarket without at least one sweet thing in my haul. Lately, it’s been Club peppermint chocolate, but in less decadent times I am not above the homebrand clinker or chocolate covered liquorice: the really hard one that’s almost impossible to eat (almost always in the car on the way home).
What delicious and ill-advised sweet item do you find it hard to leave the checkout without?
November’s letter goes to Michael Kirby and the largely un-celebrated human quality of grace.
This year I decided to read biographies and Michael Kirby, Law, Love and Life, by Daryl Dellora was the most recent book in my pile and I cannot get enough of it.
The Hon. Justice Kirby is Australia’s longest serving judge and the inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission, a place I was lucky enough to work a few years ago.
Of all the things you could say about Michael Kirby as a person after reading this book: the incredible time in Australian history that he has lived, the principles he stood for, his passion for human rights and AIDS prevention and the struggles of his personal life and coming out as a gay man in Australia – it’s the story of his family life that I loved the most.
As the joke goes, you don’t get to choose your family, so the odds of getting one that you do love and admire are probably quite slim. From what I have read, Kirby is a person who loved his family and it’s the strong, deep enduring respect for his parents that shines through the most.
Not everyone will share this thought, I well understand, and Kirby clearly won the family lottery, but I can’t help thinking that this attitude of grace, is so often hidden in public life and we don’t seem to reward it nearly enough.
Dellora explains towards the middle of the book that Kirby made Who Weekly’s list of 25 Most Beautiful Australians in 2002. An accolade he won for his ready and genuine acceptance of a public apology made to him by an Australian senator after a scathing and misguided personal attack. In other words, he showed grace.
Here is one of my favourite passages:
“What is the absolute bedrock of human rights, of our legal system, of striving to have order?
Why are we here today and tomorrow and what does our life mean?
Well, love has a lot to do with it. If you’ve had a life like mine, with a loving family and loving parents, siblings, good friends, and then a loving companion over such a long time, then you’re very lucky. The foundation of so much of that is love and I’ve never been ashamed to say so.”
November’s to-do list
Make absolutely no mention of Christmas for approximately three more weeks and ignore anyone who might suggest this decision may somehow reflect poorly on my organisational skills.
“Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.” — Cicero
Spend hours engrossed in the blog that was inspired by the quote above. If you’re a history buff then you can’t afford not to do the same. A colleague very generously shared this with me last week and I am busting to do this magazine of ‘history and ideas’ some justice.
“Exercise for a woman’s lifeline”.
If you practice yoga, or would like to, then you’ll get something out of this article and also the newsletter itself. I’m regularly inspired by its recipes, tips and wisdom; it’s a nice little distraction every day. But only if you can handle another email lobbing into your inbox, of course.
LUCY KIPPIST’S ALMANACS
*Lucy Kippist has nursed her ambition to be a journalist since 1987 when at the age of seven she announced her intention to the family video camera with steely determination. Born in Victoria but raised in NSW, she worked in the subscription department of Murdoch Magazines before completing an undergraduate degree in history at UNSW. She then followed a whole bunch of other people her age to work and play in the UK – a period most notable for snow, warm beer, slippery sidewalks and a stint on the news desk of The Sun in Dublin. She returned to Australia in 2004 and started a postgraduate degree in journalism at UTS. An internship at the Village Voice (Sydney not New York), writing for free press and a stint producing news stories on local radio followed until Lucy joined CareerOne.com.au as a careers writer. In mid 2009 she joined team at The Punch.