It’s Time the ‘Glory Box’ got an Update

I sure do hope I can fit all my hopes and dreams in this small, wooden box...

I sure do hope I can fit all my hopes and dreams in this small, wooden box…

Times are surely a-changin’.

In the current day, it’s common knowledge that young Australian women are delaying marriage and motherhood, and simultaneously staying at home longer. Soaring house prices, economic pressures to obtain a tertiary qualification and wider social acceptance of de-facto relationships have all played a part in shaping these news trends.

As the norms surrounding marriage have shifted, so too have some of the traditions associated with them. The amassing of the good old ‘glory box’ (or ‘hope chest’ as it’s known in the U.S.) is one outdated custom.

Up until the mid-20th century, the collection of items for a glory box formed a rite of passage for young, ready-to-be-married women. The terms ‘glory’ or hope’, which are used to describe the box, evoke an image of a Jane Austen character, waiting in great anticipation for her future husband. While in the meantime, until such man arrives, she’ll remain content accumulating various household items for use during married life. In this context, marriage is the pinnacle of the woman’s life, with the glory box a symbol of this aspiration. But while marriage and motherhood remain significant life goals for many modern women, economic and non-family related desires have become increasingly important.

Today, the word ‘glory box’ is so far removed from the vocabularies of young women, that when I uttered the word ironically to my Dad the other day, he responded in shock that his young, self-declared feminist of a daughter would even know what the word meant. To him, and many others, the word is a remnant of a bygone era.

As a young, unmarried woman (and ardent feminist), I’ve found myself rejecting the old definition of the glory box and instead opted for a modern-day definition. In line with these new social trends, the 21st Century glory box should not be seen as a symbol of submission to one’s future husband and married life (as it can be seen) but as a expression of freedom and independence.

While I’ve currently been using the term ‘glory box’ as a scapegoat for my tendency to hoard and stockpile home decor items, it’s intended use is for a time when I hope to have my own house and career. My ‘freedom’ box will be filled with things I hope to fill my own future house with, purchased with my own income from my own career. With this box, one’s hoped-for relationship status is irrelevant. The aspirational nature of the box remains unchanged, but the hopes slightly updated. Not only is the box a female undertaking, but something for both young men and women can use to express their desire to live their own lives on their own means.

But one thing I hope, is that my dreams and aspirations will require something a little bigger than a wooden box to fit in.

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Destination Divorce: The New Kind of ‘Getaway’ Taking the Tourism Industry by Storm

A recent article I had published on ‘Debrief Daily’. Check out the website here:

http://www.debriefdaily.com/relationships/what-is-a-divorce-hotel/ 

Divorce Hotels: A different kind of 'getaway'

Divorce Hotels: A different kind of ‘getaway’

Weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries have long been the stuff of big-spending dreams for the tourism and hospitality industries.

Now Dutch company Divorce Hotel has turned its attention to the other end of the relationship spectrum. Under its concept, couples check-in married – and check-out divorced. The concept is rapidly gaining global traction.

Divorce Hotels offer couples all-inclusive divorce packages that help them end their marriage in the most stress-free way possible. Mediators, accountants and brokers are on hand throughout the weekend ‘getaway’ to ensure a successful split.

The stay is anonymous. Divorcing couples enjoy hotel facilities alongside regular hotel guests to distract from the somewhat bleak experience.

It might sound grim, but the Divorce Hotels website offers a surprisingly upbeat vision, positioning divorce “not only as the end of your marriage…but as the beginning of a new phase in your life”. The company’s founder, Jim Halfens, says the concept of Divorce Hotel is about make a split as positive as possible for those involved.

By providing neutral territory for the divorce, the hotel aims to provide a “professional, fast and affordable service” for the separation, void of interference from “unprofessional family members or friends”.

Most guests reach settlement within 48 hours.

The US based Divorce Hotel, which operates out of the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa in New York, began offering divorce packages to guests late last year. It was previously known as a premier wedding destination in the picturesque holiday region of Saratoga Springs.

(Note: a place called Lake Desolation, which is a short 20-minute drive away, could provide guests with an additional place to reflect on the weekend’s proceedings.)

The process will set clients back about $5000, and the divorce packages come with a welcome basket brimming with Divorce Hotel branded pens, mousepads and beach bags.

With a TV series already developed for Dutch television, Divorce Hotel has set its sights on American TV. Operators are also looking to move beyond weekend ‘quickie’ divorces to mid-week offerings and multi-couple mediation sessions.

At least when the honeymoon period really is over, couples will have another excuse for a vacation…

An Instagrammed Life

Instagram: where the grass is always greener

Instagram: where the grass is always greener

In the digital era, our mobile devices have become faux limbs and our days have come to revolve around our news feeds. In the process, it’s increasingly difficult to detach from social media. The lines between cyberspace and reality have become blurred as we share more of our private lives online. In many instances, it’s through Facebook that friends and relatives derive important information about one another, often before hearing it directly, in-person from the source.

As a twenty-something at the heart of the digital native generation, I’ve become an avid user of social media since first signing up to the nostalgia-evoking, tween-esque platform ‘Bebo’ in my early high school years. As time has passed and social media has further developed, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have become integral to my social life. And at many times, these sites constitute the entirety of my social life.. (Ok, perhaps not all of it, but a significant portion, for sure).

News or gossip about the latest engagement or relationship break-up is first heard on social media. It’s rare to see a day through without at least one pregnancy announcement, European holiday album upload or a new job placement. But with all these life event-based posts, comes a load of excess dribble. It was only the other day the extent to which such unnecessary social news has come to implant itself on my brain became fully apparent.

As my friend and I were discussing our shared envy over an old high school acquaintance’s endless travel adventures, we both realised the alarming amount of trivial facts we had retained from the hours spent mindlessly scrolling through our social media pages.

“Is Sandra still dating that guy with the facial tattoo?”

“Yeah, they’ve been together over 5 years now. She travels interstate to see him all the time.”

It may sound rather mundane and irrelevant to our lives, and that’s because it is. But how did we know all about this? Facebook. We both haven’t seen or conversed with Sandra in about 6 years, but thanks to the wondrous pool of wisdom that is Facebook, we know all about her life and her relationship with guy, who to us, is a perfect stranger marked with overly conspicuous ink. And it gets worse.

“Have you been keeping up with Nicole’s (another high school acquaintance we both haven’t seen since our foetus days) travels?”

“Last I saw she was in the Greek Islands. Oh and her parents celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary the other day.”

“Yes, I saw. Wow, it seems like only yesterday they were celebrating their 19th…”

And that’s when it hit us. Recalling the wedding anniversary celebrations of an old high school acquaintance’s parents (whom we have never seen or met in person) is definitely a little concerning. It’s one thing to track the global movements of a travel bug-infected acquaintance on their Instagram account; but the incognito recognition of their parents’ relationship milestones, is another story.

It’s this very information that has come to overload our social media accounts, and now too, our brains. Fortunately, in the meantime, it’s all just something to have a laugh about, but it’s a timely reminder to avoid becoming too immersed in our social media contacts’ business. For the most part, things aren’t really that much greener on the other side of the Instagram post.

Dr Strangetown: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and ‘Love’ Blacktown (Part 2)

'I Love Blacktown': a rarely uttered phrase indeed

‘I Love Blacktown’: a rarely uttered phrase indeed

Up until my early teen years, I had been oblivious of the stigma that overshadowed my local community. In the years that followed, the media stocked me with reports, outlining the details of everything crime related in Western Sydney. The local weekly newspaper, the Blacktown Advocate, with front-page crime reports, provided further fuel for the fire that was my loathing of Blacktown. Bad things happened all over Sydney, but the good rarely filtered out to us in the West.

During this time, my entire conception of my local area- a radius of about 5km- was formed through a self-created ‘dodginess scale’, which mapped the various streets, reserves and laneways that I deemed either safe or off limits. The western side of Blacktown Road, where many of my school friends called home, was close to a series of walkways and reserves which cut through to nearby bushland, the scene of the infamous Anita Cobby murder. This dense bushland, which stretched along both sides of the Great Western Highway, ranked highly on my ‘dodginess scale’. Ironically, last summer, this very bushland became the site of Sydney’s newest family tourist attraction- Wet’n’Wild.

These initial naïve fears for my safety ebbed and flowed during my high school years, occasionally resurfacing after watching a sensationalistic news piece, but quickly fading into the background within the space of a few days. As I reached my senior high school years and moved to a school beyond Blacktown, my new-found freedom helped quell my contempt. I began to un-bookmark real estate websites I had frequented in my attempt to convince my parents to move suburbs. I ceased putting my energy into the Blacktown newspaper crime reports. I instead began to experience the suburb for myself as a young adult with a mature state of mind. But I still sought an escape; not out of loathing, but in search of opportunity.

Last year, I set off on my first overseas journey to America’s West Coast with a close friend and fellow Blacktown resident. On the day of our departure, I left Blacktown with an impression of the world formed through a lifelong exposure to American media. I had browsed through towering piles of travel magazines and followed the activities of my favourite American musicians and actors as they boasted about their perfect Californian lifestyles on Twitter and Instagram. When we booked our grand American adventure, these manufactured images danced around in my mind. As I sat in the travel agency, I traced my hand over our scheduled tour route on a ceiling-high world map. I imagined the stark white Hollywood sign nestled snugly in the L.A. hills and the contrast of the red ochre Golden Gate Bridge against the deep blues of the San Francisco Bay.

I wasn’t entirely naïve though; my mother had attempted to prepare me for the scenes I was about to encounter during my travels. Influenced by one too many Louis Theroux or Ross Kemp documentaries on gangland USA, my mother, in the months leading up to my travel, called me into the lounge room on numerous occasions to show me the latest American crime story or underworld exposé. She’d look on at the TV screen, shaking her head in dismay. Apart from the guns, the sights I saw on TV didn’t differ all that much from Blacktown; I believed it couldn’t be much worse than what I’d known for the past 17 years in Western Sydney.

Upon my arrival in Downtown L.A. at the start of my American adventure, I came to observe a new and unfamiliar way of living. There were signs of glamour and ridiculous wealth, everything I had come to expect in the Hollywood city, but there were equally just as many signs of crime and poverty. Dilapidated buildings, urine-coated footpaths and deserted city streets. Even McDonalds employed round-the-clock security. On my first morning in L.A., I sat in a Downtown McDonalds only a few blocks away from the poverty-stricken Skid Row and watched on as scores of homeless men and women filed into the restaurant, using any spare pennies, dimes and quarters to purchase some sort of nourishment. I was confronted and saddened as I bore witness to this average day on the streets, experienced by over half a million Americans.

Three weeks later, I arrived home in Blacktown wearing my Los Angeles sweatshirt. Behind me, I dragged a large suitcase filled with the American-themed merchandise I had collected during my journey. But what I didn’t notice at the time was the additional souvenir I brought home with me- a feeling of gratitude and dare I say it, local pride.

While the Sydney turf wars continue to be fought on the battlefields of suburbia, I still struggle to confess my deeper appreciation of Blacktown, but the horizon has been broadened. Although I surely won’t be adorning myself with an ‘I Heart Blacktown’ t-shirt any time soon, I won’t be burning one in a blazing bonfire either.