How Do You Remember Well When You Don’t Want To?

It’s not uncommon for me to be confused by a mix of emotions. I’m getting used to the mixed bag that comes up during this time of year. Australia Day, Easter and now Anzac Day, all bring with them joy and sorrow, often at the same time. It has created a new emotion in me, I call it the ‘happysad’. Most of the time I will try and avoid it, but any emotion avoided only builds up to appear in other ways, creating unexplained grumpiness and ruining the day. In an attempt to enjoy Anzac Day this year, to somehow remember and celebrate the sacrifice of so many in the all-too-many wars that have happened and continue to happen, this is me sitting with the ‘happysad’ mixture.

It starts with a question, which, like the new emotion, is complex and doesn’t make much sense.

How do you honour the sacrifice made without glorifying the violence and devastation, mixed sometimes with pure evil, but not forgetting that we exist because of what has gone before, without condoning the use of young men and women as pawns in a greater battle of egos, but acknowledging that we owe a great deal to brave men and women who have faced something I never have (and hopefully never will), although recognising that it’s not right that they had to face that either?

Or, to put it more bluntly, how is it possible to hate something (like war) with such a deep seeded passion, but enjoy its fruits because I live a luxurious life of freedom in Australia?

Here’s what I have so far.

You remember it well. That involves stopping and reflecting on what has been. Listening to stories, honouring those who were there and embracing it as part of our history. Avoiding this reality will only serve to show disrespect for those who have taken part in any war, and their families, friends and communities.

You learn what you can. For me, war teaches that life is valuable. That should go without saying, but it is true. Every person killed as a result of conflict, large or small, is a loss for all of us. In saying that, there are very few winners in a war. The side that claims the victory is the side that has lost the least. That hardly seems like winning. Everyone gets damaged in a fight, when the scale of the fight is larger than a few people, those who get damaged the most are often the people on the sidelines who aren’t involved. Collateral damage is not the cost of doing business, it is a long list of people in the wrong place at the wrong time, who have names, a family, hopes and dreams that will never become reality.

You live well. Without a sense of guilt or shame, but with a strong sense of responsibility shaped from the understanding that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. Whether we like it or not. The least we can do is to live in such a way that we benefit those around us, near and far, through a generous life.

It’s not a complete list, but it’s a starting point to embrace the ‘happysad’ day that is Anzac Day.

What can you do with a day?

I often start the week with the conversations about how my weekend was. There are many times when I actually have to sit down and think about what I did over that 48-hour period. It just seems to come and go so quickly with distressing monotony. Each Monday I find myself asking, what did I achieve with my time off? Surely I did more than hang around and get coffee?

There is something about being intentional with your time and achieving outcomes in your downtime. I like rest too, don’t get me wrong, but I like the feeling of accomplishing things. Even if it is to improve myself or grow in some way.

The best part of my job is meeting with some of the most amazing people. In my time with Opportunity International so far, I have been amazed at the calibre of people who are supporting us as part of the Opportunity family. So much so, that I go out of my way to spend as much time with them as they will let me…before it becomes awkward.

People have so much to offer, experience, wisdom, insight, passion, energy.

Late in 2016 it struck me that it was a shame that I couldn’t bring people that I knew with me to meet with these incredible people, ‘I could sell tickets’, I thought. Little did I know that this was the birth of the Women4Women Conference – instead of taking people with me, I decided to arrange for us all to meet in one place, with more space than a café or an office board room.

That is what we have done. We have invited Suzzanne Laidlaw, Rabia Siddique and Kirstin Bouse to be our speakers on Saturday 13 May. All three are inspirational leaders and mothers.

Suzzanne is one of the most recognised and successful business coaches in Australia with more than 10 years’ experience coaching individuals, business coaches, managers and CEOs, as well as having 25 years’ experience within key business management roles. She is an Opportunity Ambassador and has a strong passion for inspiring people to turn their dreams and ambitions into reality through business re-education. Suzzanne is driven to live an authentic, fulfilled life that motivates others to do the same. In 2016, Suzzanne was nominated as one of WA’s most inspiring women, having her story published in the book 16 Inspirational Women by Creatavision Publishing.

Rabia is an Australian human rights and criminal lawyer, former terrorism and war crimes prosecutor and retired British Army officer. She’s also an international humanitarian, hostage survivor, professional speaker, coach and published author. Having undertaken human rights and community aid work in the Middle East, South America, United Kingdom and Australia, Rabia received a Queen’s commendation in 2006 and was also named one of Australia’s Top 100 Women of Influence and an Australia Business Woman of the Year Finalist. Rabia is committed to peace, gender equality, inclusion and education. She is a mother to young triplet boys.

Kirstin is a clinical and forensic psychologist with 20 years’ experience. She is the owner of Life Resolutions Morley and Wembley and leads a team of six psychologists who work across both practices. Kirstin also owns The Conscious Mother, a heart-centred business supporting women at all stages of their motherhood journey, whether they are experiencing difficulties or not. Kirstin has authored The Conscious Mother: A simple guide to mothering with self-awareness, authenticity, confidence and connectedness, and has recently launched her online program #motherhoodonline. She also facilitates four-day The Conscious Mother retreats in Perth and on the East Coast to give mothers the opportunity to connect with one another and grow in ways they never expected.

Having these three women in one place at the same time is a phenomenon. This day will be significant and will change your life. Both men and women are invited, so be intentional about Saturday 13 May at Lifestreams Christian Church from 9am. You can get tickets here: Women4Women Conference