Media/News

julie owens one julie owens twoIMG_1823SWHQ was delighted to have MP, Labor Member of Parramatta Julie Owens come in store to chat and learn about us.

Intrigued by our products Julie Owens found herself tossing up between multiple items before purchasing two of our rose gift wrap sets as well as two weaved ornaments for her Christmas tree.

We were pleased to have the opportunity to share our passion for weaving but more importantly our desire to weave the community together.

Talks of a possible project for International Women’s Day were discussed, so stay tuned.

As a thank you token, a custom star for her office was weaved and presented to her.

We hope that she comes back soon!

 

Images courtesy of Julie Owens office

Model search seeks role models

Miss Faith Levave to win Sugar and Spikes Model Search
CLICK ON THE PHOTO and like on facebook to VOTE for my niece

When empowering youth becomes an all out stealth covert operation to secure the target.

This isn’t about my niece winning a facebook model search competition.  Please CLICK the photo on the left  and then LIKE to vote for her or….

KEEP READING and vote at the end.

One of the many visions I’ve had since this weaving journey began has become clearer from working with a talented Year 12 student who sought my help for her visual arts major.  Her project so rocks by the way and I am yet to get the rest of her photos to do a full story.

Before working with her my vision was but a fleeting fanciful thought. Like a someday, one day maybe. Sound familiar.

Nothing like throwing yourself into community projects and other relevant campaigns to illuminate that vision.   Seriously blinding requiring some hot new sunnies me thinks.  Oh yeah!  Will definitely go with my big as woven flower hair pieces that have caused some eyes to fall short of prying it out of my head.  You know who you are.  Envious little creatures.

I am well into my wedding weaving project and my feet still do not know how to type.  Dagnammit stupid feet. Lucky they are good for walking.  Balancing writing and weaving still a work in progress.  Like I said, “dumb feet”.

fine mat weaving in curling ribbon by contrarian samoan artist Maureen Unasa

My passion for weaving can be used as a vehicle to engage the community.  Creating dialogue while engaged in a semi-structured self led program.  Working within the primary and high school environment resonates with me at present.  It would work where-ever it is needed.  A transitional program to bridge between stages and a reminder before leaving school.  Empowering young women (or men if they are into weaving) to create games and play to win.

It’s all about playing and giving it everything.  Winning is a favourable result but it is by no means a measure of who you are.  You get who you are by playing.  I wish I was told this growing up.  Probably wouldn’t have listened unless it was like a stealth learning operation disguised as doing something fun.  Like a game or weaving or painting.

Girls are abundant in my family including our extended family.

God provides what is needed most.

Naturally weaving this pathway for empowering young women begins at home.  I am certain my girls eyes will remain rolled back one day after my next “Be true to yourself” speech.

You can imagine my excitement when an opportunity arises from one of my nieces taking a huge step up to the plate. Ready to play.  Still nervous but encouraged by her coach and assistant coach.  The support team have been rallied.  A bunch of dedicated misfits committed to one thing.

Collectively we ELEVATE.  In this herd that I call family we literally pick you up or drag you by your hair and get you over the finish line.  Your shaking knees and trembling hands will be held firmly by family.  We believe in you. Whatever the result, let’s PLAY THIS GAME together.

I’m warning you.  You do not want to play against my family.  All jokes and smiles until it’s game time.

It’s never about the actual game.  The game is WON on how it’s played.  It is so important for me to ensure that my children, nieces, nephews and all children PLAY THE GAME full out.

To my niece Miss Faith Levave.
The result is being the model for Sugar and Spikes.
The game is being extraordinary.
The game is played on the turf of humility and confidence.
The rules are yours.
Batter up!

Who are we if not examples?  We are the role models for extraordinary.  My children have fed off me since birth.
No longer will I hide behind embarrassment or “shame” for fear of losing or being ridiculed.
Humility must be reshaped in our minds as OWNING our talents a.k.a awesomeness.
Confidence is owning my extraordinary self and allowing others to see it for themselves too.
Ego has a place when it serves me and many, collectively.

Please help me win my game to ELEVATE my niece.  Click HERE then LIKE her photo to vote.  And remember to SHARE the love.

Backlash and Criticism inevitable

Samoan fine mat weaving in gold curling ribbon
SWEET REDEMPTION

Backlash as it states is lashings to the back. Behind you. It’s not called a front-lash otherwise you could see it coming. Possibly.

Backlash.   Backstab. Feels all the same to me.   Even if you’ve experienced it before, it still doesn’t change your initial emotion.

When something nasty is thrown into my space, I have learnt over the years to invite a conversation. When inviting a conversation I generally don’t expect a further attack given I am seeking an opportunity to discuss allegations made against me.  It makes things worse when one doesn’t have a physical voice to have a vocal conversation otherwise that would be my first option.

Regardless, I outlined my disappointment and understand that people make judgements all the time although I don’t condone it.  I consciously catch myself.  There are avenues available for communication if one was in disagreement.  It is interesting though, that what gave rise to this backlash is a matter of personal opinion.  A personal truth.

A final reply to my request was “not wasting any more time on this”.  SERIOUSLY!  Throw something in, attack further and then don’t waste my time when I seek an open conversation.  I used to be a real bitch before but holy moley.  So thankful I now think before I shit out of my mouth.  (Tulou a-Excuse me)

My, “How to make a Samoan Mini Mat” Youtube videos have been examined carefully by some experts in the fine art of Samoan weaving.  Experts because they have righteously cast their opinions on the errors of my videos.  Oops, yes I did spell it “falagigi’i” instead of the correct mother tongue of “falanini’i”.  That is huge on the scale of life and death.  ‘G’ and ‘N’ are often a source of confusion in our native tongue because of the conversational versus grammatically correct Samoan language.

If you refer to my tagline then you will fully get that this  is my journey to “Unravel life, love and culture through the art of Samoan weaving”.  I invite you to share in this journey.  This means that you can contribute to my journey.  If I need correction then so be it.  I am open which is why I have a public presence.  I do not need to hide behind the screen.  I am out there and available for criticism.  I welcome it.  It’s an opportunity to learn.

The videos themselves were purely a response to several requests to learn how to weave.  Naturally (as a non expert weaver) I guided these requests towards the nearest possible group in their community and failing that to consult our online teaching platform that is GOOGLE.   Google university had very limited (if any) pathways to learn weaving online.  There are also not very many weaving groups anywhere in the world you happen to be.

I would know.  I also researched too.

I create on the fly.  I could see how I could make weaving available without the borders.  I created videos based on what I had learnt.  I don’t claim them to be authentic traditional techniques.  It is inspired by what I have been told and manipulated it to work for my chosen medium.  Curling ribbon.  It is slippery and not tough like pandanus or flax.  I weave the way it works best.

If you are an expert then please share the CORRECT way to weave a falanini’i.  Otherwise, please make yourself a good hot cup of perspective.

My weaving is simply a platform to engage.  A vehicle to transform many areas of my life.  One of the areas involves my own Samoan and on a broader spectrum the Pacific Islander peoples.  Bigger than me is the world.

I belong to the world.

Working on empowering young Pacific Island Women to be more than they think they are.  Being a demonstration of savvy contrarian Samoan woman.  Thinking for myself.  Being true to myself.

Being contrary to popular belief.  I just happen to be a Samoan and a woman.

We have big problems that need to be addressed by strong courageous people.  Health,  literacy, suicide, abuse et cetera.  It’s rife everywhere.  Choose one and get on with it.

I hope my intentions are neither shallow or narrow for you all.  What hopes do I have of being big and bold for humanity.

Much respect.Online G+ Business Card

Embrace the Hate

When a pioneer steps up to the plate there will always be hate.

It’s interesting then that everything arises out of an experience.  Then a conversation analysing that experience.

The experience may or may not have worked.  The experience is the catalyst for conversation of implementation.  Implementing rules or guidelines that may (if willing) evolve with time.

Some experience lay foundations for practices and beliefs.  At the time of it’s inception it occurs that this is how it will be.  A permanent feature.  An absolute in nature and kind.

Possibly, the notion of absolute would work without the introduction of NEW.

New arrived in the form colour bearing pretty unnatural and ultimately destructive lures against the land and its inhabitants.

I’m not displaced.  Displacement occurs in the mind.
I embrace. I evolve.
There will always be hate when a pioneer steps up to the plate.
Thats why it’s important to educate against the hate
It is never too late. Let the past and present mate.
Educate to eradicate hate. We are not late.

I do not belong. To any one group.
To separate myself is to segregate my mind.
My mind is the most powerful and that which i protect.
My mind creates the content of my life.
It fuels the words I use.
It makes the sense of less.
It unravels and smashes a conversation to pieces.
It rebuilds the conversation through context.

I get it. I understand the need for preservation.
Hoping against the defiance of time. It is but HOPE.
Hope is for the hungry. Hope is for the undeniably oppressed.
The world of my mind is abundant. The soil of my life is fertile.
Ideas grow wild. Aligned with mother nature she will nurture.
Mother nature will guide. She teaches me. She shows me.
I walk with her and not the testosterone of humanity.
My ego she keeps in check.

Our ways. Our practises. Our beliefs. Our traditions.
It all began with a seed. An idea.
It grew. It was nurtured.
It died. Replanted. Multiplied.
It grew wild. It spread. It adapted.
It evolved. Embracing the environment.
It teaches. It shares. It aligns with the present.
Rooted in history. It is not held to extinction.
It grows towards greatness. Embrace.

Fear not the path of greatness. Know the path itself won’t be.
The path will be hacked down and uprooted at every opportunity.
Nature is designed that way.
Replant. Grow. Multiply. Spread. Adapt. Evolve. Teach. Share.
Embrace the path.

The student is ready.

Superwoman Network
Superwoman Network

Sometimes you are so in awe that you forget to close your mouth in amazement.  Being transported to another world and still unbelieving in the possibility of such a world.  How does one even comprehend a world let alone living it and most importantly coming through it with the steely determination reserved for the likes of a member of the elite SAS squad.

Can you imagine my heart in my mouth while I’m moved, touched and inspired by the fighting spirit of a woman who has easily surpassed any other human being I have met to date.  To put it into perspective, her story is NEW to me and unfathomable that even if I was a good enough writer I wouldn’t be able to do her story justice.

Yip sometimes, you just meet people that stop you from talking and thinking.  You appear slightly gaga.   You hope you don’t look like a fool.  Turning momentarily to hide tears of sadness.  Returning quickly to the reality of a truly inspiring individual.  You can hardly believe you are in the presence of such a courageous spirit.

OH! What a gift to the world your story would be.  Alas, it is your story to tell, not mine.

Meanwhile, across the ditch in an old stomping ground A SPACLALS Hui was in full swing towards a  “NIU” (new) Oceania .  The spirit of the Hui was far reaching and laid the foundations of what has been a momentous week for me.  The superwomen network is expanding especially my much needed Samoan superwomen.  You continue to be my  teachers where I am the most grateful student in attendance.

Transporting my spirit back to my present world.  Another inspiring teacher, sharing a part of her world with me.  Even now, after all that the world has thrown at her she keeps telling life to, “BRING IT”.

A brilliant single mum and highly intelligent career woman she still has time to share with me her savvy shopping prowess.  How a single mum makes it all work.  Taking care of both her and her sons needs.  No want for anything.  No excuses.  No complaining.  Life is a gift.

Fresh food for under $40 for a week.  There is more and this is just a sample.  Flemington Markets Sydney NSW
Fresh food for under $40 for a week. There is more and this is just a sample. Flemington Markets Sydney NSW

Sometimes when you take that next step in your life towards your goals.  You are given the people you need for that next step.  She was my initial step.  She has opened the door to a new community.  A community full of tangible results at my finger tips.  Helping me along my own journey. Standing for Pacific Island Health all around the world.

Three quality hoodies.  Very happy older three children. Two pairs of boots.  Black knee highs fits younger sisters calves. lol.  Three other items of clothing for me not pictured.  Total cost $37.  Flemington Markets Sydney NSW
Three quality hoodies. Very happy older three children. Two pairs of boots. Black knee highs fits younger sisters calves. lol. Three other items of clothing for me not pictured. Total cost $37. Flemington Markets Sydney NSW

Excuses are redundant in this world.  When you declare, “YES”.  When the student is ready to LIVE.  The teachers show up.  We live in an abundant world.  Get together and get out together in your local community.

Thank you my beautiful Amazonian juicing sister. Rawwwwwwwwww!

Meanwhile, in another part of the world and salivating at uploaded images I’m in the same space just a different location.

By the end of the week I’m exhausted.  I have made connections with another organisation to begin work with a womens refuge next month.  I laughed hilariously with the lovely Visual Arts Major student and her beautiful sisters while locking up her canvas weaving project.  Sunday evening presented my next teacher.  Literally a school teacher who has taken up a cause full time.

I do wonder whether I have been grooming myself for something way bigger than I think I am.  It is scary.  It is also another story.  In any case I am “WRITING MY METAPHOR”.  Thank you SPACLALS for being my wings last week.

Love and Light to you all

Reen

Samoans Online

Responsibility is a very big word. When you break it in two, it gives you POWER.
The POWER to choose how you respond, react or reply to any given situation or scenario.

This is not just for Samoans online. It is for everyone. I love my children and the best example I can be or give to them is to go about creating an awesome WORLD for them. Little by little.

I am one person but I am a scorpion. Literally. bwahahaha. Enjoy the video below

How to be an awesome Samoan parent?

Samoan styles that is.  Samoan parents are very animated (rightly so) when they celebrate and support their childrens achievements.  Actually, when the celebrate anything.  We can be rather loud and our signature “CHEEEE HOOOO” will drown out any poor persons attempt at whistling their support.

You will definitely need to make one (or several) of these babies  (see video below) to ground your child and not have them get a big head over their achievements.  We Samoans encourage humility ;)

 

We love to celebrate achievement the same way anyone else would.  LOUD and beaming with pride.

“Cheee Hooo- Alu iai ma lou loto atoa”  [Give it everything you’ve got]

 

I’m making me a new body

Channelling my inner HAMO*.   The attitude.  The fighter.  The warrior.  TOA* take over.

Your will be done, not mine.  [Yeah, coz my will be suckful until now.]

black heart weave and gold weave mat

Took care of the smoking.  Keeping this present body is an open invitation for smoking to come a knocking.
The viciousness of it all.   The cycle that keeps me a happy prisoner. The payoffs.   The justifications.   The ignorance.  BLISS!

I am so over this body.  I’m gonna make me a new one.  This body hurts.

The knees are squeaking.  Getting up after weaving feels like they need time to warm up.   A little castrol RX SUPER heavy duty to kickstart movement.  I am forty next year.  Not four hundred.

I am not going to be in pain at forty!

What can I do?  Far out, just do something.  Commit to doing something that is not nothing every day.
Doing nothing has lost its dry humour.  No more nothing.  No more excuses.  No more blame.  No more jokes to hide behind.  This body is not fun.  This body is not a laughing matter.

Throbbing joints and breathlessness will be from exercise.

I can taste the clarity health will bring.  Breathing life into my world.  Igniting my creativity.  Energising my work. Invigorating my relationships.

My resources are at hand.

History has taught me enough.  Gym, long enough to know I CAN.   Personal trainer to correct form.
Googled enough to earn a theoretical degree in health and fitness.  The only room left up in here is for EXTREME action.

I’m ready to rock. What’s missing?  ACCOUNTABILITY.

My public declaration to transform my health is what will hold me to account.  Embarrassment can be motivating. :p  Winning isn’t everything.

Integrity will be the only thing!

A close friend, a brother from another set of parents surprised me one time.  A conversation about tattoos.  I have none.  I wanted to get some angel wings on my back.  BUT only when there was an awesome body to display the wings. (I have since rethought the wings)
“I know you Reen and when you want something you will get it”.
Bro, were you referring to your best mate who is now my husband?

This body will be celebrating forty years in Samoa with a Navy Seals theme.  From the age of twelve I wanted to join the navy or the army. YES! Initially it was the uniform.  Strength and the possibility that no-one could mess with me again was what I really wanted.

Why don’t you join me in making ouselves the bodies of our dreams!

The devil better enjoy his last day of mucking around with my mind. When my feet hit the ground tomorrow, you gonna wish for yesterday.”-Maureen Unasa 02/06/13

*HAMO: Slang for “Samoan”.
*TOA: Courage. Warrior.

How do I weave and blog at the same time?

Testing Google plus hangout on air with Maureen Unasa
OH yes I did…. CLICK here to watch

Delinquent blogger will be history with my new little plan of attack.

Been racking my brain and even drafted the worlds longest post ever until….

I decided to jump right in and give this a go. You will need this mindmap  below during the video to see what I’m talking about since it did not work for me for some reason. (I shall pass this on to the production team…when I get one)

Maureen Unasa Mind Map
Did not work on the live stream test :)

And so, this new experiencement is alot faster and funny for some, to allow you all to get the gist of where I am headed.

It appears to be an exciting opportunity to create communities without borders.  Enjoy!

 

Culture | Life | Love