THROW KINDNESS – EVERYWHERE.

There’s a sign on my son’s school door. It says, THROW KINDNESS LIKE CONFETTI!

I love this. But until today, I loved it in a kind of abstract way. Like, aw, that’s sweet, my son’s teacher is warm and fuzzy.

Today, I started to see it in a new way – as a sage piece of advice worth heeding literally.

In February 2014, Charlotte Dawson tragically suicided after being trolled relentlessly by vile cowards. She engaged with them, and she bore their insults; she took their horrible, baseless epithets, to heart. As most of us would. They were relentlessly evil.

And her life ended.

These people, I have no doubt, murdered her. Not with a gun, nor a knife, but with a weapon that is now accessible to EVERYBODY and at ANYTIME. Without exercising good judgement, it is a weapon that people can wield even accidentally. How easy it is to be sassy and unkind online, when you would never say what you’ve typed to someone’s face.

lily-allen-003In the last twelve hours, Lily Allen has courageously faced up to a personal horror. She tweeted, in an attempt to engender deserved sympathy for refugees, about her battle with PTSD in the wake of her stillborn son’s birth, at six months’ gestation (nuchal cord – a cord around the baby’s neck, which resulted in strangulation and death).

This is a horror. A horror. As a mother of two healthy babies, I cannot imagine this pain. I have friends who have experienced it and I do not doubt, for one second, that the trauma she refers to is utterly correct.

To admit this to the internet took bravery and courage. She deserves our admiration and gratitude; and of course, our deepest sympathies at what she’s experienced.

But Lily Allen has subsequently been trolled in the most horrendous and inhumane manner – a manner that even gives trolls a bad name. People accusing her of lying, of bringing on the still birth by doing drugs, of her baby deciding to die to avoid the fate of being parented by Lily…

How can we live in a world where people choose to behave in this manner? This could be your boss. Or your neighbour. Or the man who sells you brioche on a Sunday morning. The woman making your coffee. These keyboard vigilantes, no, keyboard terrorists, are hell-bent on destruction. I don’t know why; it is so foreign to me that I truly cannot comprehend this mentality.

There is no way to stop these people. Sure, one day legislation might catch up. Ashley Judd, in 2015, revealed plans to sue trolls who had harassed her. Then there’s Curt Schilling, a former American baseballer, who proudly tweeted news of his teen daughter’s acceptance into college. He was inundated with offensive tweets, many foreshadowing rape and sodomy in his daughter’s future. At least nine of the trolls had real-world consequences, including losing their jobs or places on prestigious college sports’ teams. While this is a satisfying ‘ah ha!’ moment, it’s still not a well-rounded solution.

So do you feel as desperately despairing as I do? When you read these stories, do you wonder what you can do? Here’s my answer, and yeah, I’m totally plagiarising from my son’s first grade teacher.

THROW KINDNESS LIKE CONFETTI.

Do not scroll past! If you see a photo of a high school friend who’s just had a new hair cut? Tell them how great it looks. Even if you hate it, find a way to be kind.

Fill the voice of the internet’s dark matter with beautiful messages of support. It takes just a moment to send a little tweet, message or ‘thumbs up’ of support, admiration, adoration, kindness and respect, but you have no idea what kind of butterfly effect you are starting (or preventing). This isn’t just an online thing. Do it in real life too! Stop strangers to tell them you like their hair, smile at people you don’t know. Take an extra second to ask how a waitress is – and mean it. Pay attention to their answer.

THROW KINDNESS LIKE CONFETTI. Always. Always, always, always. You can go tweet Lily a  message of support here.

 

 

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Interviewed by Lynette Rees

romance that sets your soul on fire

It was so lovely to be asked by the fabulous best-selling historical romance author Lynette Rees to take part in an interview for her newsletter and blog.

Some great questions that really got me thinking, and walking down memory lane.

Check it out here!

https://lynetterees.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/interview-with-romance-novelist-clare-connelly/

Writers’ Festivals

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I went to the launch of Adelaide Writers Week last night, part of the very successful Adelaide Festival.

There are a lot of things I love about this adopted city of mine. Its flatness. Logical, gridded street layout. Its tendency to mimic all things English (single-storey houses are Bungalows and pubs have names like The Cat & The Whistle and so on). And speaking of pubs, there are a lot of them, and they’re not just for beer and limp fries… Adelaide is arguably the epicentre of Australian wine (sorry, we’re also really parochial – arrogantly so). I have heard people arguing for hours over which Shiraz is superior, Barossa or McLaren Vale (obvious, Barossa) and that’s not snobbery. It’s passion. There are miles and miles of beaches – the likes of which are, in my opinion, unrivalled. Think turquoise, flat water that glistens towards the horizon, crisp white sand, caves and coves to lose yourself in and knobbly timber jetties. These beaches are beautiful – just ask the Sharks that patrol our coastline. Even that’s not a negative, because it shows how brave we are. Sure we have sharks, but we swim anyway, because we’re South Australian and we’re tough. This is all before I consider Cibo, which has to be the greatest coffee chain in the world – just ask my babycino loving son, whose first word this was.

But beyond the world-class food, wine and beaches, South Australia really gets behind the arts. There are the festivals, which attract both big names and obscure talent and give everyone a chance to get amongst the creative industries. Really, that’s what I love. The accessibility of these events. There are clever shows aimed at every age group, from one and up… there’s the Garden of Unearthly Delights, perhaps the jewel of the crown. That place is something special. Think boho chic meets luxury camping combined with gourmet picnic fare. It’s a garden strung with fairy lights and dotted with canvas tents where people meet, mingle, drink, talk and somehow days merge with nights against a backdrop of laughter and life.

These are dark days. It’s hard not to feel a little like we’re at the start of The Lord of The Rings, contemplating the prophetic spectre of the scourge of the shire. But in festival season, here in Adelaide, life is good, people are happy and the arts abound.