By JULIE MAYNE | OPINION
My mother loves Facebook. Just recently she told me where my cousin went on his holidays, who he caught up with and how he travelled, all without picking up the phone or exchanging a single word with him.
She also knows who’s had birthdays, given birth, can quote recent rainfall amounts, who’s having problems growing broccoli in their gardens, and obviously, has had holidays.
I used to enjoy Facebook, it too informed me of what was happening. Until it didn’t.
It decided I needed more informing, a lot more informing of things and people I had no interest in. I switched to Instagram.
The mindless scrolling of beautiful images and people peppered with cats doing funny and heartwarming things filled my heart, and I didn’t even feel pressured to leave a comment until it too, decided what I needed to see…
Nothing compares to face-to-face engagement. Being present in a room, feeling the energy, connecting with someone over shared ideas (it’s still the weather, BTW) is where the magic happens.
As uncomfortable as it may seem, leaving your safe space and venturing out in the big wide world certainly has its benefits. With the shift from our COVID lockdowns many organisations are focusing on the ‘disconnect’, and the scramble on how to fix it, to re-engage.
We are just focusing on who turns up. Because that is where the magic happens.
Recently, I attended our RRR Women’s Ekka Long Lunch in Brisbane (pictured below).
I didn’t want to go, it was a six hour drive, I had water problems on the farm, cattle on my neighbours wheat crop (silently pleased at their initiative, not pleased about my neighbour’s reactions), my BAS was overdue, my garden wilting, I had all the excuses in the world at my fingertips.
I went. Put some fuel in my dusty, ancient farm car, selected some podcasts and decided all of these problems would still be here on my return. I’m so glad I did.
Walking into a room full of rural women is a thing to behold, and I urge you all to experience it.
If you are standing there looking a little lost, you will promptly be given a job. If you seem to be getting into a heated discussion, someone will miraculously appear to soothe things over, if there is an issue affecting one of us or our community, we will all know by the end of the day, and we will be armed.
I love rural women. They have a ‘just get on with it’ attitude, they too have made the effort to show up, because connection counts. It’s where the magic happens.
I am so proud of our organisation’s policy of not having allocated seating at our events, our long table concept is something that suits our rural women.
It encourages us to come on our own, come with friends (just throw a coat over a chair to indicate if you want to sit with someone, subtleties like
that are microscopically noted, we are observant like that…) and know that a conversation is sitting either side of you, across the table from you, and we turn up.
We connect differently in the ‘bush’, conversations count but being present matters. I think it is all about the effort. If we invest in something, we are going to make it count.
I drove home feeling empowered and inspired by being in such great company.
My issues shared, my opinions valued and feeling energised; energised enough to deal with my neighbour and the wee issue of my cattle
on his crop.
If you make the effort to show up, be prepared for the magic!
*Julie Mayne is the president of the QLD Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network.
RRR Women’s Dulacca Long Lunch is on September 30 – to purchase tickets head to their website.