Thursday, July 18, 2013

Watch Out Bullies of the World

By Lannah Sawers-Diggins

Ok, this young actress/model/singer is not really out to fight – but it got your attention, right?  Truth be told, the stunning Meredith O’Connor, rising American model/actress/singer is using her amazing  talents to channel her bullying experience to help raise awareness about this continuing act around the world.
Meredith’s experience occurred at school – it seems she was ‘too tall, too skinny, too weird’ and on it goes.  While she was ostracized mainly during her vulnerable younger days, it did die down in middle school, then flared up again.  It does feel rather as though jealousy might have played a big part in this ostracism as she was labelled a ‘theater geek’, because of her working in a show in Long Island theaters.  As Meredith herself says:  ‘Professionally working or not, they will pick on you if you’re in a world that they don’t understand.  I certainly wasn’t in with sports’.  How true.
Hailing from New York this 17 year old has trained in classical, Broadway, theatre and dance, pop vocals and performed in such productions as ‘Annie’, ‘Grease’ and ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, to name but a few.   Meredith was discovered in 2011 by a Miss Teen/USA scout and thereby launched her career. 
The main message in Meredith’s music is for young people who are deciding what they want to be, trying to inspire teens to be brave and stand up for those who are being ostracized.  Her music is reminiscent of that of a combination of Taylor Swift and Alanis Morisette – and has been described as ‘edgy country-pop’.
As an actor Meredith played a leading role in the upcoming independent film, ‘Red Head Randy’, which is an anti-bullying horror film with the aim being to capture young people’s attention.  The soundtrack features Meredith’s song, ‘The Game’. 
This amazing young lady also helps Reachout in the capacity of official advisor.  Reachout is an online information and support service for teens and young adults.
Meredith’s star is very definitely rising and she will, in all probability, be featured on ‘Bonfire Impact’ again.
Stay tuned.

Story Source:  Lannah Sawers-Diggins
Photos:  1)    Meredith O’Connor - Modeling
              2)    Meredith O’Connor

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fashions in the Field

I had been warned - but the circumstances surrounding my arrival at this awesome spectacular sort of didn't allow for me to blend in and not stick out like a sore thumb!  This was the Cobar Miners Race Club Annaul Race Meeting - a race meeting in an outback town.  Let's just say I had been warned that the dress code for the day would be 'dressy' - that the women, of all ages from babes in prams right through to the elderly, wore their best - had their hair, nails and makeup done professionally and expertly - and the men were right up there with them.  But they were in suits, not dresses.  Some did have amazing hairstyles though - but I didn't see much make up on the males.  None actually.

And here was little old me.  Arriving stale (as opposed to 'fresh') from a pretty long coach trip across the outback from Adelaide to Cobar, nearly non-stop.  No chance of a bath or even to freshen up much, really.  Even though I actually had packed appropriately, thanks to that warning.  To be fair, the wonderful people of Cobar did offer me the use of a bathroom upon my arrival but to be honest, I was just too darned tired to worry.  And really, I was also enjoying myself too much to be concerned about how I looked.  Which probably wasn't really that good but I was beyond worrying.  And when you have a professional camera hanging around your neck and are walking around with pen and paper in hand, to say nothing of business cards - couldn't help but stand out like the proverbial sore thumb.  It was pretty obvious I wasn't a local.

But those fashions - oh my God.  And the hats.  And shoes.  Stilettos - the ladies wore stilettos - didn't seem to matter that half the heels disappeared into the bulldust.  They walked with aplomb - no-one fell or tripped - except me - in my good old flatties.  This really was the Cobar horse (and foot) races.  Have to say they are a far cry from the horse races that I attended as a child - also in the outback.  

These people know how to enjoy themselves.  I heard that another town 'nearby' (some hundreds of kilometres away) was also holding its races that same day - so I guess high fashion was the order of the day there too.  In fact, I am beginning to think this is the norm these days for these country race meetings generally.

Those fashions, right down to those superb stilettos, could not be faulted. And the colours were stunning.  Such a wonderful array and on all ages - the school students arriving and enjoying themselves looked absolutely wonderful - every bit as formally attired as their elders.

And so proud.

If I am correct and this is the norm these days for country race meetings, they sure as heck give the Melbourne Cup and other well knowns a run for their money.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Year My Life Began

It wasn't at birth.  Nope.  Please don't get me wrong - I had a wonderful and very unique (in my opinion) childhood and the rest, leading up to the present - well, like everyone, I have had my share of ups and downs.  But I do feel that my life really did begin only a few years ago.  It happened something like this.

I awoke one morning, suddenly realising I had to get my late father's book published.

Dad had been working on this book for the last twenty or so years prior to his death in 1993.  Every spare minute, when not focussing on one of his other passions - his family, our family station, his veteran cars or nature, was devoted to his book.  He literally just finished the actual writing when he passed on.  In the years since, the manuscript passed between my siblings and me, back and forth until it landed in my hands for the umpteenth time and I finally typed it out.

Then - on that particular morning I knew I had to get it out.  This feeling was a tad overwhelming - I presumed that my mother's advancing age had something to do with it.  Fit as a fiddle all her life she was also the world's leader in hiding minor details like health issues.

But - that little block that stops so many would-be authors in their tracks - some forever, others only temporarily - how do you get a book published?  Seriously - how?  Now this just might have been enough to put me off altogether but for the memory of Dad's passion for his writing, ancestry and the outback of Australia - added to that the thought of Mum's pride in Dad's efforts - but not seeing them come to fruition - that did it.  Full steam ahead.  There was no stopping me.

The book was published exactly a week after Mum died in 2010.

Darn!  But - I had tried and was reassured that Mum knew that something had finally been done about the book - that it was close to release and that, I was told, made her a happy woman at point of death.  Well, as happy as anyone can be when facing the end of life.

Thus was the catalyst for my writing.  It was and is now in my blood and I am following a lifelong dream of writing and publishing books.

Next came one about bullying.  I had been a victim in the past and it was rife throughout my family.  I am now an advocate in this fight.  While embroiled in this and with my book safely published, I was finally able to turn my attention to combining two of my passions - writing and the outback.  Thus work on my book about stations was borne.  The research has presented the biggest challenge of my life (apart from childbirth...) but to say I am loving absolutely every nano-second of it would be the understatement of my life.  Doing this has also finally given me a chance to put my journalism and photography into action.

Picture this, if you will.  I am a 57 year young woman, have been very happily married for 31 years, with two successful adult daughters, have enjoyed a great life so far, but after my epiphany - well, let's just say I really do not feel life could get a lot better.  I am on this road now - writing is well and truly coursing through my veins and I am meeting the most amazing and unique people.  Doors that I would never have even looked at in the past are now actually opening for me - and letting me through.  I am now doing media interviews, both national and international.  All so good.

I am also writing for several online publications - some voluntary, others paid.  Love it all.  It is all such invaluable experience and exposure.  At times I venture well and truly out of my comfort zone and have made more than a few enemies - but also many, many new friends who well and truly outnumber the former.

Every day something new happens or I discover a fresh approach to an old idea or problem.  Yes, I certainly do meet with some very negative obstacles - which do halt me - very briefly.

In summary, my life has been a very unique, unusual and happy one, to date - but since that epiphany - the sky really is the limit.  

After that - who knows.