Not everyone wants to write a tell-all, novel-sized autobiographical work. In March 2011, to celebrate International Women’s Day, Marie Claire Magazine Australia published an inspiring feature: “100 Years, 10 Women, 1000 Words.” It had me pondering how I would fit my story into a 100 word nutshell. Are you up for the challenge?
Here are some of the stories:
Najeeba Wazefadost, Aged 20 Former refugee. Auburn, New South Wales
Born Afghanistan. Persecuted by Taliban. Came to Australia by smuggler boat. Sent to Curtin detention centre. Saw security guards; thought were Taliban with better guns. Finally sent to Tasmania. Realised what smile was. Got citizenship at 18. Mother and father in tears. Finally, we belonged somewhere. Dad said now that australia gas given us identity, must give back and make it proud. Childhood was bombs, guns, persecution. Australia is about education, freedom, raising my voice. Have just finished medical science degree. Definitely want to get married and have kids some day. Proud they will have better childhood than me.
Michelle Singer, Aged 30 Journalist, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Only girl, eldest of five, born the year John Lennon died. Wore shorts every day through school. Was happy, sporty tomboy. Knew wanted to be journalist from 14. Worked in clothing store and forced to wear their clothes; all too small for me. Skpped meals, became addicted to laxatives. What a waste of time. Now love my life. Passionate about sport, cooking, reading, shoes, triathlons. Love job. Relationship was long-distance for three of five years. Broke up last year. Rode my bike through Europe in recovery. Realised break-up was mistake somewhere between Paris and Bordeaux. Now getting married. Happy. Finally.
Jennifer Westacott, Aged 50 Partner in charge, sustainability, climate change and water, KPMG. Sydney, New South Wales
Raised in housing commission. Chronically shy, which nobody believes. Shared room with grandmother. Went to university with her too. Uncle was Changi prisoner with no concept of boundaries for girls. Took me rock fishing to teach me bravery. First woman director housing department, education department. Too often only woman in room. In relationship 22 years. Don’t see enough of him. Live in airline lounges. Best friends Qantas, hotel staff. No kids. Conscious decision. Not fair on kids. Proudest achievement: with others, stopped land clearning in NSW. Some say wasn’t enough; I say small steps. Insisting on perfection just doesn’t work.
Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, Aged 60 Acting director, Ri(Aus), former MP and minister. Adelaide, South Australia
Born in London. Reasonable student. Mother made it clear I was lucky, had community service obligation. At 12, taught disabled children. Came to Australian 1970’s; taught pathology at university. Planned to stay a year. Had fight with local council, decided to go work them out. Became Adelaide’s Lord Mayor. Lucky. Became minister immediately. Have supportive spouse. Sons now 20, 22. They might complain I wasn’t always available. But they’re independent; not bad thing. Lost last election. Kept self-respect, reputation. Never thought I would be politician. Great experience. But one moves on. In life, have to learn to be flexible, resilient.
Shirley Chenu, Aged 80 Homemaker. volunteer and golfer. Subiaco, Western Australia
Born during depression, school during war. Dad provided stable household. Wasn’t aware of being poor. Remember rationing, mother kitting socks, father a volunteer rireman. Did commercial course. Worked in London, Canada, hitched lift to Los Angeles. Never felt adventurous, probably was. At 23 met husband at dance. Raised two sons. Low point, mother dying month before youngest was born. Regrets? Like Frank Sinatra had few, but life mostly good. Volunteer caddying blind golfers, reading talking books. You don’t appreciate fitness till old age takes it away. Resent that, but life goes on; been blessed.
Beryl Grant, Aged 90 Nursing educator and pioneer. Daglish, Western Australia
Was five when father died, 14 when mother died – breast cancer. Had to leave school. Wanted to be teacher but couldn’t afford education. Mentor got me into nurse training at 21. Became nurse educator. Many I taught stay in touch and tell me what an influence I was. Never married. Lost live in WWII; still wear ring. Faith is important. Not feminist, but believe women should never be put down. Live alone, strill drive. Worked till 60 – wasn’t very well paid. Lots of volunteer work til into 80s. Now live on pension. But am happy woman – so a rich woman.
You are most welcome to become a part of the Write Your Life Story Facebook Community. Its aim is to inspire you to write and improve as a writer, by regularly sharing resources and helpful ‘how-to’ posts on Facebook. We have six contributors who share on all aspects of writing, not just journals and memoir. The page address is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Write-Your-Life-Story/173393852705651?sk=app_190322544333196
Stories are the property of Marie Claire Magazine Australia and the story tellers.
Post contributed by Cate Russell-Cole.