Bridie O’Donnell

Original article can be found here.

“Cycling is inherently expensive because it involves equipment and, generally, the better the equipment and the more expensive it is, the better you’re likely to perform,” O’Donnell explains to Guardian Australia.

“When I was racing the national team still existed and many women were given the opportunity to win a scholarship, as I was. But [realistically] it ends up being coffee money. You don’t have any expenses if you live in the national team house, [but] unless you’re like me and you can borrow, self-fund, quit your job and have either a supportive partner or no partner, it’s pretty hard to do.

“The added humiliation is, you see your male peers with all these pathways – and some aren’t making money and are being exploited [too]. But they can see Cadel Evans and Chris Froome in the distance and think ‘I could be that’.”

O’Donnell explains that cycling is effectively an individual sport that is raced as a team, with riders only able to enter races when they are aligned with a professional team. For women in particular – where resources are scant and places limited – O’Donnell says this can create an environment with “a whole lot of ordinary or unsafe standards”.

“It becomes an aspirational environment where the power imbalance is extremely apparent,” she says. “For every 200 women there are three or four great teams and women are just clamouring [for their spot]. That means the environment becomes ripe for exploitation. If you’re being poorly treated, you don’t have an alternative.”

As examples, O’Donnell recalls witnessing other riders subjected to abuse at the hands of their coaches and superiors, something she also endured during her time as a triathlete. In a chapter entitled #UsToo, O’Donnell describes a former triathlon coach as “violent, aggressive, manic, paranoid and suspicious” – and recalls being humiliated in front of other squad members about her weight, times and inferiority to other women in her squad.

“Mine certainly wasn’t a unique situation,” she says. “We have these vulnerable young women, or ambitious hard-working women, who have in many ways probably isolated themselves because they’re very talented, they’re exceptional, and someone has come along and said: ‘I see you. I see what you’re doing here, you’re amazing. We’re in this together and we’re going together to the Olympics or the world championships’. No girl is going to say: ‘I feel the power dynamic here is a little inappropriate, I’m not going to accept money, support, coaching and love from you’.”

During her time in the role she has already racked up a formidable list of achievements with a tenacity that mirrors her elite sporting career. These include securing a $1.5m investment from government in a “female friendly facilities” infrastructure grant, introducing a minimum 40% quota of women on state sporting organisation boards to take effect in the next 15 months and overseeing a professional development program for CEOs of eight sporting organisations – to support them in achieving gender equity. She is also passionate about welcoming women back into sport post-retirement, something she has thought about deeply after her pro-cycling career.

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Tune: Papaya ‘Cosas fascinantes y sencillas’

Papaya ‘Cosas fascinantes y sencillas’

Invítame a cenar a un sitio nuevo,

donde podamos enlazar palabras sin freno.

 

Que cosas fascinantes y tan sencillas como la vida misma,

no me quiero enamorar.

No es que el amor me parezca ridículo, no,

es que ya no lo quiero ahora.

Ya me cansé de todas esas locuras,

si lo hacemos que sea a oscuras,

no me quiero enamorar.

 

Y te es mas fácil volverte solo a casa

y aunque no esté hecha la cama

y sin nadie a quien despertar.

Y te es mas fácil volverte solo a casa

y aunque no esté hecha la cama

y sin nadie a quien despertar

ya me cansé

de todas esas locuras,

si lo hacemos que sea a oscuras,

no me quiero enamorar

 

y hay misterios que nunca entiende nadie

y la tristeza se hace grande hasta poderte pisar.

Lasagne, Epicurious

Delicious winter warmer! Original recipe here.

INGREDIENTS

  1. Béchamel sauce:
    • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
    • 1 Turkish bay leaf
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter [152g]
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) ground nutmeg
    • Pinch of ground cloves
  2. Swiss chard and mushroom layers:
    • 1 pound Swiss chard, center rib and stem cut from each leaf
    • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 1/3 cups chopped onion
    • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
    • Coarse kosher salt
    • 1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced [I used normal ones]
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  3. Lasagna:
    • 9 7 x 3-inch lasagna noodles
    • Extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese (preferably organic), divided [omitted this]
    • 6 ounces Italian Fontina Cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups packed), divided [omitted this]
    • 8 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
    • Test-kitchen tip: To test for doneness, insert the blade of a small knife deep into the center of the lasagna for 30 seconds. remove the knife and feel the blade. If it’s hot, so is the lasagna.

PREPARATION

  1. For béchamel sauce:
    1. Bring milk and bay leaf to simmer in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk to blend. Cook 2 minutes, whisking almost constantly (do not let roux brown). Gradually whisk milk with bay leaf into roux. Add 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, nutmeg, and cloves and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Remove bay leaf. DO AHEAD: Béchamel sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill. Remove plastic and rewarm sauce before using, whisking to smooth.
  2. For swiss chard and mushroom layers:
    1. Blanch chard in large pot of boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain, pressing out all water, then chop coarsely. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, half of garlic, and crushed red pepper. Sauté until onion is tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in chard and season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    2. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium- high heat. Add mushrooms and remaining garlic. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Mix in nutmeg and season with coarse salt and pepper.
  3. For lasagna:
    1. Cook noodles in medium pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; arrange noodles in single layer on sheet of plastic wrap.
    2. Brush 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish with oil to coat. Spread 3 tablespoons béchamel sauce thinly over bottom of dish. Arrange 3 noodles in dish to cover bottom (2 side by side lengthwise, then 1 crosswise). Spread half of chard mixture over pasta, then half of mushrooms. Drop half of ricotta over in dollops and spread in even layer. Sprinkle with half of Fontina, then 4 tablespoons Parmesan; spread 3/4 cup béchamel over. Repeat layering with 3 noodles, remaining chard, mushrooms, ricotta, Fontina, Parmesan, and 3/4 cup béchamel. Cover with 3 noodles and remaining béchamel. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover with foil. Let stand at room temperature.
    3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake lasagna covered 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until heated through and top is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

The friend effect: why the secret of health and happiness is surprisingly simple

Original article here:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/23/the-friend-effect-why-the-secret-of-health-and-happiness-is-surprisingly-simple

This is according to a new study by Oxford Economics that found, in a survey of 8,250 British adults, that people who always eat alone score 7.9 points lower, in terms of happiness, than the national average.

One study from the University of Michigan found that replacing face-to-face contact with friends and family with messages on social media, emails or text messages could double our risk of depression. The study also found that those who made social contact with family and friends at least three times a week had the lowest level of depressive symptoms.

“Austerity has a huge influence on the loss of happiness and wellbeing,” she says. “Homelessness and unemployment in particular takes us out of contact with others. In addition to the obvious harms of homelessness, it does massively increase social isolation and anxiety. To take that even further, many people are in exile from their communities. In mental health services, we see an enormous amount of grief, depression and anxiety in people who are asylum seekers and refugees and much of that is not just due to trauma or torture or detention or fleeing from their country, but from the severe rupture of being cut off from their families and communities of origin.”

Gilbert says that the parasympathetic nervous system (otherwise known as the “rest and digest” system) “is stimulated through the verbal and voice tone of relations with each other. As far as we know, it’s not that stimulated through texts. Generally speaking, you’re designed to respond to voice tone and expression, and stroking. We are physiologically designed for face-to-face interaction.”

Dragging ourselves out of low energy states – be that by trying to cultivate compassionate voices internally or having compassionate relationships with others – is key to Gilbert’s work. “If you ask someone, ‘What is your internal critic most frightened of?’ [you will find] it’s frightened of rejection, of being seen as no good. Of being unlovable, of not being wanted. All the raging that goes on beneath us, the thing that we fear most is shame – not being good enough or wanted. We are frightened of being revealed to be not so nice.”

He says that what has happened in the past decade, with the rise of social media, “is that it has become a very plastic society. We are all living like theatrical actors, presenting ourselves as our best. That can’t be real, and so we have many people who feel like failures or useless. They say: ‘I’m not as attractive as that, I’m overweight, I’m not kind or compassionate to others.’”

As Gilbert says, the best relationships are the ones where people love us for our perceived dark sides and flaws. “People forget that love is about loving you for the difficult things, not the easy things,” he says. It is those who know us intimately who can provide that, and they do it through their physical presence, through touch, and through eating, drinking and sharing with us. Spending time together is social nourishment. So, instead of texting a friend or messaging them on social media, why not knock on their door, look them in the eye and make yourselves both feel better?

By back hurts. My back hurts every day.

I’ve tried everything I can think of. Massages. Swimming. Foan rolling. Saunas. Hot showers.

My osteopath friend says, according to osteopathy and his studies in neuroscience and hormones, that my back hurts due to my digestion being under stress.

I work from home. I eat alone. I eat before I go out, even when I’m not hungry, in order not to spend extra money. My housemate eats dinner at 10:30pm, which is too late for me but I eat with her anyway. When I cook, whatever I cook, it is wrong for people here; flavours that are too strong (fresh herbs, lemon etc).

I used to love, love, love having friends over for dinner and cooking something special for them. I now strongly dislike cooking for people.

“You’re going home?” people ask me. I don’t have a home. My mother died 3 years ago now, we sold her house, and I haven’t been back to my home town since then, I haven’t lived there since I was 19, and I was always itching to escape when I did live there. I’ve lived abroad for 8 years and friends in the UK are few and far between.

But I’m ready to move back to the UK. I’m ready for soup and a sandwich for lunch. I’m ready for vegetarian options being the norm. I’m ready for doing the supermarket shop online and waiting for it to be delivered. I’m ready for international products being the norm. I’m ready for curry and Vietnamese and Thai. I’m ready for fresh herbs and winter jumpers and Christmas starting in September. I’m ready for pub quizzes and live music and not being foreign anymore, not being other. Being from a place and when people criticise me, and can just think “That’s your problem mate” instead of struggling to fit in to pass unnoticed by creepy men who try to touch me without my permission and then start screaming at me when I say no.

I’m ready.

Happiness is a chord and I don’t know it, Michaela Stone Cross

 

View story at Medium.com

Snippets from the work of Michaela Stone Cross that I really enjoyed… Wish I could write like this!

Original post in full here.

Greg had always been effortlessly happy, which has the unfortunate effect of making me feel like a bad lab experiment when I’m down. Amongst his friendly, happy, successful friends I felt like a weird, evil flower, snuck into their paradise.

I smiled to myself. In all the sad songs I knew, C was never happy, and I thought it was just like Greg that he’d think of C as happy, and just like me that I’d think it had a tragic sound.

There I was, stuck in my blue pallet, him in yellow, him with Rebecca Sugar, me with country songs. My favorite chord was E minor, the two-fingered chord, resonant and deep, dark, pulling at one’s core. I was attached to the sadness, to these sad songs, to this sad chord.

Sadness like that puts a strange film across your eyes, and I’d gaze at my yellow-palleted friends like I was a spider in a zoo exhibit, envying a liberty I could only observe. Every obstacle that confronted them they’d overcome easily, every thought seemed to come with sugar on top. One mean word, a glance, and I was writhing with anger and envy, with hatred that filled me, stinging me inside. I wanted to curl up into every shadow: I was an ugly, hateful, harmful thing.

Right, I remembered. Some people actually wanted to live. It’s impossible for me to conceive of, fantasizing, night after night, about being dead. The most I could accomplish, it feels like, is outliving my parents. Or planning some way of killing myself where no one knew I was dead.

I’d begun feeling a nauseous embarrassment when it came to the instrument. I stopped playing my guitar. I stopped writing, singing, eating, stopped everything. I realized, once I did, that all the songs I knew were sad ones, and all the words I had were sad ones, and all the songs I could sing were sad ones and I’d rather not eat than eat alone. When I was happy, living and writing in Bulgaria, surrounded by animals and trees, the songs would add a new texture to my happiness, a depth.

“Aural emotion.” A philosopher, Feuerbach, described music as such. A note pulls out a feeling in you, it ‘pulls on your heart strings.’ My favorite note to play was E minor: Two-finger, resonant, dark and deep. If Greg was the happiest note I was the saddest. I played Cash because I loved the feeling of his deep notes in my lungs, his dark thoughts in my head.

And I realized that there is no why to pain, that pain is a gift from God. That it is the place we launch ourselves into ecstatic joy, carrying that gift lying from within the darkness, the gift that makes the A chord on the piano make me cry, and yet feel so happy, feel so good. That the pain that had been hanging like a stone around my neck for months was not dragging me under water, but the keystone that connects me to others, that helps me read pain in someone’s eyes. That E minor followed by C is the happiest sound in the world: it is no miserable depths of one grey sound or the saccharine emptiness of only good things. It is the reason we have words like ‘ecstasy’ which is the mixture of the greatest joy, and greatest pain, the emotion brings us close to God because it reminds us that the earth is more wonderful than any heaven, with all its horror and pain. We are born, not soft, but hard, and as the Talmud says, “For we are like olives: only when we are crushed do we yield what is best in us.” But it is sometimes so hard being crushed.

My fingers play upon my instrument at random, songlessly, picking the notes to feel them vibrate through me. Sometimes I wish that chord existed, the happiest chord, one I could find and play, one that would shatter all evil thoughts from my head. But life is not a color or a chord but a painting and a song. And even in pain, I am grateful.

TED: Paula Stone. I’ve lived as a man & a woman– here’s what I learned

 

“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” Thomas Merton

Pockets on women’s jeans.

There is just no way a well-educated white male can understand how much the culture is tilted in his favour.

I will not live long enough to lose my male privilege.

We need more men like Mark who are willing to honour and empower women.

I never realised I had privilege. And so do you. And what can you do? You can believe us.

 

 

I absolutely love this comedian. Watching his BBC shows, looking at the credits, I see how many people it takes to produce something of that quality. But his earlier videos were much more simple:

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16130965.The_making_of_Limmy__The_comedian_on_life__fame_and_growing_up_in_Glasgow/

Limond acknowledges that social media is a different experience for women. “For men there’s not all the sexual shaming side of it. I did have someone once say to me something like ‘I hope your wife and wean dies’. I don’t care. I don’t care because I’m worse than them. They probably think that’s an evil thing to say but I think 100 times worse than that in my head. So it doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I kind of like it. If someone really goes out of their way to bother me then I know they’re unhappy … and that kind of makes me happy.”

ANOTHER of his handmade sketches is just seconds long but beautifully encapsulates a current social media flaw, that of a coterie of media and academic types chewing over issues using language and acronyms the rest of the population can’t be expected to keep abreast of. “My issue with all sort of social justice stuff and leftie stuff, and I would put myself on a social justice leftie side, is some of the terminology is jargon. I’m up to speed with this patter but who are you speaking to? Is this just for youse? And I feel that way with the Cambridge Analytica. It’s alright to do these big exposes but what happens next, how does it make a difference, who are you speaking to when you do these big things? How does it get interpreted? You need something like the Sun, who speaks to the lowest common denominator.”

It’s a dilemma, that as soon as a person becomes a television personality they start to slide into the category of middle class. How do you ensure the representation of working-class people in the media when, as soon as we join the trade, we have less claim to be working class?

I suggest there needs to be a reclassification with an extra category or two, but Limond disputes this strongly.

“Naw, naw,” he shakes his head. “Get rid of it all. We don’t need another one. Working class, middle class, get rid of it.”

“You have to talk in the language of normal people or why even bother? You’re just showing off.”

This time, he says, he would still vote Yes but he would sit back. He’s decided you can’t change people’s minds by “bashing it over” their heads.