Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dinner anyone?

Tonight I'm not discussing getting used to driving to and from work each day and trying to find ways to keep myself amused for 40 minutes each way.

I'm not discussing how I watched the slow decomposition of a cute black kitten on the median strip of Epping Road every day, how I considered stopping the first time I saw it to check to see if it really was dead (which would have probably killed not only me but the dozens of drivers that were zooming up at me at 80kms/hr).

I'm not discussing how I attempted to dress as what I thought would be a sexy female gangster in a pin stripe suit for a Great Gatsby themed party on the weekend, but I just ended up looking like an old lesbian with a machine gun.

I'm not discussing how I vowed (yet again) to join the gym (which is a two minute walk from my office) and make the most of it by building my upper arms so that I won't end up with chicken wings and strengthening my core so I can attempt to run at least some of the Bay Run this year, but have only been three times in four weeks.

I'm not discussing how surprised I was that when I had to put my phone in for a repair, I really missed it. I worried my photos had disappeared into the big grey cloud and I would never see all those invaluable text messages I was keeping for some unknown reason.

But I do want to talk about something I would really love to go to and have been waiting about a year for the opportunity.

My favourite magazine, The Collective, is hosting a dinner at The Commons in Sydney next Monday night and if I buy myself a ticket, I can take a friend along for free!  So if you're interested in really good food along with chatting with creative and inspirational people, plus an opportunity to ask Collective's editor, Lisa Messenger, any question you can think of - give me an 'Oi'.

You never know, that great idea you have in your bottom drawer might just gain some legs.
*Joining Essentially Jess for IBOT*

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Getting my Collective fix today

I've been working at a new job for two weeks now and though I've enjoyed it, I'm feeling soooo tired.  And I don't think its even the job itself, even though it is busy its nothing I can't handle. I think its the driving 45 minutes each way, every day.  I get home by 6pm which I haven't been used to for some years. Cooking dinner has become a little hit and miss lately (ie. whatever can be heated up or is made of mince).

Once that's all done and dusted and any taxi-ing to training or teen's work place, is over, I try to read the papers (well the weekend mags) that have been waiting on the coffee table all week (books are for reading at lunchtime).  I also attempt to get through any blogs I want to catch up on, any social media posts or emails but my eyes scream protest after looking at a monitor all day.

I'm not much for magazines so I have one favourite one that I hold a treasured subscription to and today Issue 12 was delivered to my letter box.

If you know me at all, you know I've been blabbing on about The Collective since Issue 1.  I've talked a few workmates from my old workplace into buying a copy. They subsequently bought me a subscription for my farewell gift then bought themselves one for the office.  When I visited them a few months ago, they have photocopies of the wonderful positive messages contained in The Collective posted up around the office walls.

My replacement started to tell ME about the magazine when I asked about the pinup quotes. I made sure she knew I was the one that first showed it to the manager!

Anyway ... I'm putting the word out there because I don't think a fraction enough people know about this great publication. Every story is about someone inspiring. People who put it on the line to do what they love. People with great ideas that actually do something about them (I'm hoping some of that may rub off on me). People that start up companies that are not only popular but can help others too.

I can see no good reason not to read about people like this (and I read every word of it). There is a part of everyone's story I can take away.  Whether they came from humble backgrounds and stuck to their guns to build up their dreams, or fought for others to achieve theirs, every defeat and failure that tested them was a reality check.

Most of the successful entrepreneurs profiled are young (well younger than me anyway) and it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling for the future of our society when its being looked after by these new kind of humanist kind of business men and women.

And though I haven't had a chance to read the new issue since it arrived today (well it is Tuesday, IBOT night!), I've had a flick through and a quote from the story on the cover girl, Lily Cole, gives you just a taste of what I'm talking about:

"I think you should always follow your heart in life, so wherever that leads you, go with it. I know it's always scary jumping from one thing to the next ..."

Let me know if you read The Collective or whether you think you might want to - it just might be the best magazine you've ever picked up.

**Joining with Essentially Jess for #IBOT**

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Swapping with Strangers - #IBOT

I love the thought of swapping stuff - clothes, books, ummm, pencils? Well, just not partners. No, not into that.  But there are bigger things you can swap - like homes!

Recently I started looking into house swapping as a way to make a European holiday a reality.  I even received a few requests from potential overseas vacationers that were keen to stay in our Sydney home.  And fair enough too, the photo I posted on the site was magnificent, in fact I had lifted it from the real estate ad we had first spotted before we bought our house.  All golden light and filters.

I can see how somebody freezing their family tail off in the suburbs of London would find it a very attractive proposition to swap their cold abode for our sun filled, bayside holiday home in the middle of an Aussie Summer.  I love it.  In fact, for the first three months living here almost four years ago, I felt like we were staying in a holiday home purely built for fun in the sun.

But as I want to holiday in the Northern Hemisphere, the time I would like to vacate is our Winter and their Summer - not keen on the cold.  Funnily enough, those coming South want to do the opposite.

So I'm not sure how it would work out timing wise.  Not only that, I know I'll be doing weeks of paranoid cleaning before hand and locking up valuable possessions like my teenage journals, wedding underwear and other secret stuff I can't tell you about.

So have you ever taken part in a house swap with total strangers?  How did it go?

(French holiday anyone - from here)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Simply Sketching

When I was a kid I used to watch my Dad sketch in a notebook that was always lying on the coffee table. This was usually on a Monday or Tuesday night because that would be the only times my parents would stay home from the club.

He would sketch all sorts of things. Things he saw in front of him (the TV, the cat, a glass or cup or even us) - he also made used to chew bits of paper and mould them into tiny goblets which he would throw onto the ceiling where they would stick upside down).  They weren't bad and it wasn't long before I started doing the same thing.  

He showed me how to draw a person by sketching ovals for each part of the body and limbs. I struggled with drawing faces and especially eyes but I loved drawing hands. Hands drawing hands drawing hands drawing hands.  In fact I made that my fourth form (Year 10 for you younger readers) end of year art assignment. Along with a painting of a photograph of my mother as a small child posing with her big brother for a professional photographer.  It wasn't very good but I still have it and every time it is brought out to be moved to another house I am reminded that no matter how many times I tried, I could not get those faces right. My wonderful art teacher, Mrs Whitehead, ended up painting their faces for me.

For a few years after I left school I still dabbled in sketching, even doing a few life drawing classes with my Dad (he was besotted with the French teacher).  But the most recent sketching I did was at my sister-in-law's hens night a few years ago where, among other activities, there was a nude sketching session.  I forgot all about the young and muscle bound model reclining on the pub's lounge and the giggling women sitting alongside me and was totally immersed in getting those curvy lines just right (along with some dark shadows in the appropriate tiny undies area).

But recently I felt inspired to pick up the pencil again after reading a story in my favourite magazine, Renegade Collective, about a gallery/library in New York called The Sketchbook Project. 

What a great idea!  I would love to go to New York (well, yeah, duh!) and visit this place.  I could spend hours just browsing through those wonderful books. But I will have to be satisfied with the Digital Library on their website.

So tonight, after I had poured myself a glass of wine and ate some pizza, I picked up a notebook and did a little sketching. Nothing fantastic but just stuff I could see around me - my dog, a couple of photos on the wall - and I quite enjoyed it.  I could see the purpose of the simple pleasure of using the other side of your brain to doodle aimlessly.

tonight's sketch - from top left: photo of daughter, sleeping Sydney, flower scribbled over a face which went wrong, photo of Mum and Dad kissing, my glass of wine (green bits are embedded in the handmade paper, flowers I think)
I think I'll do it more often.

What's your simple pleasure?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Going slow really fast

Its been two weeks since I've posted anything on here and feel I've gone back to "Slow Blogging".  Except for the fact I'm unemployed, I've been flat out (I won't say 'busy', apparently its not the word to use at the moment). Mostly applying for jobs, the odd temporary admin assignment and doing Mr Moneymaker's data entry.

Also I spent a glorious four days away at the Broadbeach Blues Music Festival with my sisters and cousin.  A veritable buffet of excellent live music, mosh pit dancing, wine, cheese, park dancing, champagne, seafood, beach strolling, margaritas, balcony dancing and a stint of slide guitar by yours truly on stage with a semi famous band.  Yes, four very mature women can still act like teenagers when enough good music and liquor is involved (I may post about it all another time).

But enough about me, how are you?

Then again ... in other news, I recently had my eyes checked and even though I've been wearing contact lenses for about a billionty years, I now also need reading glasses to wear OVER my contact lenses!  Aging sucks.  I guess its better than the alternative, aging I mean.  It will just mean its another thing I'll be searching through the house for because I was sure I left it right here!  Anyway, a couple of hours after my eye test, The Project presented a story on eyes aging and advertised this web site (coincidence much?).

So yeah, that's about me again but hey, its my blog eh?

While on me, this is stuff I've been doing lately:

  • Listening to:  Every possible performer at the Broadbeach Blues Music Festival (did not appear in this clip but there is a secret video held of me on stage with Mason Rack...).
  • Watching: Fargo (though I'm two episodes behind so don't anyone tell me what's going on yet!). This is the best TV show I've seen since Breaking Bad - you must check out SBS on Thursday night.
  • Watching: The Voice - I've become strangely addicted this season, probably because of lack of Delta.
  • Reading: Bird by Bird - Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamont - a 'real' book about writing where the author 'speaks my speak'; and My Booky Wook, a Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand Up by Russell Brand - he's a very naughty but incredibly funny boy.
  • Reading: Renegade Collective magazine (time has got away, haven't had time to read the two issues I have on my coffee table but I really need to) - must have only subscription for inspiration.
  • Seeing: recent movies - The Chef - it made me want to go out and buy a taco truck and cook around the country; The Grand Budapest Hotel - a fun and silly movie by Wes Anderson.
  • Surfing: Seek.com.au; LinkedIn.com; EthicalJobs.com.au; Teachers.on.net and any other job sites where I can find that perfect job (if such a thing exists).
  • Working on: Cigno.com.au database (one thing I've discovered, there are A LOT of soccer club websites in Australia, thousands, in fact, and not all have contact details - so frustrating!).
  • Planning: a secret business idea that needs input from you, the reader - more to come later.
So once again, I've been doing nothing and everything, just trying to find my 'thang'.  What's yours?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What wants to live forever?

I want to feel this good
I've had my health and wellbeing in my crosshairs recently (its probably because I haven't had a job and had too much time on my hands). I've realised that I talk a lot about keeping healthy so I can live a long and fruitful life, but there hasn't been a lot of action done in the past.

But if I don't focus on it daily, I'll just keep doing the same unhealthy habits over and over again.

Tonight I attended a talk by Dr Michael Elstein at my local chiropractor's. He's a wholistic medical practitioner who doesn't talk a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo, but uses scientific facts about the human body and its fascinating way that it works to grow and heal itself. I particularly took notice of why we need to sleep when it gets dark and wake when the sun gets up (she says typing this at 11pm - again).

On an aside, he also talked about a prediction by Ray Kurzweil that we would all be living forever by the year 2045 or to quote Wikipedia:
He believes that with radical life extension will come radical life enhancement. He is confident that within 10 years we will have the option to spend some of our time in 3D virtual environments that appear just as real as real reality, but these will not yet be made possible via direct interaction with our nervous system. He believes that 20 to 25 years from now, we will have millions of blood-cell sized devices, known as nanobots, inside our bodies fighting against diseases, improving our memory, and cognitive abilities. Kurzweil believes that a machine will pass the Turing test by 2029, and that around 2045, "the pace of change will be so astonishingly quick that we won't be able to keep up, unless we enhance our own intelligence by merging with the intelligent machines we are creating".
Which means we will live on in our iPhones. Crikey, I better get my software updated now.

However, Dr Elstein made a lot of sense and as I couldn't take notes (I forgot my pen!), as soon as I got home, I ordered his e-book (only $5.99!), which will hopefully explain (at my pace) how I can get my system balanced through balancing my hormones.

I also attended a talk last week by Jean Kittson about her new book, You're Still Hot To Me: The Joys of Menopause. I'm not quite there yet (I only had two hot flushes a few months ago), but I thought I better get prepared.  She was surprisingly informative (I was expecting just a whole lot of laughs, not facts!) and highlighted the fact that there is next to no scientific research into menopause. This is pathetic.  I'm sure if men suffered from it (and I don't mean suffer the effects from their partners' menopause), it would be thoroughly investigated and treated.

I took the first step to cleaning up my system last week by buying a NutriBullet (well, I had requested it for Mothers' Day but ordered it by phone the next day). And I've been juicing everything in sight since, not just for me but for my family as well.  I don't always tell them that I might have put kale or spinach or celery in their juice, but they've been drinking it down anyway!  And my banana and mango smoothie is soooooo goooood!

Its only been four days where I've been having a vegetable/fruit juice in the morning and a banana/mango/yoghurt smoothie in the afternoon, so I'll let you know how I'm feeling after a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I'll be ramping up my 'getting-off-my-arse' exercise regime (I actually ran a whole kilometre at the end of my bay walk on Sunday!). That's after I get a job. Oh, and after my weekend at the Broadbeach Blues Festival with the girls (well, a girl's got to enjoy herself!).  THEN I'll get healthy.

Who Wants to Live Forever?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Walk Thoughts

As I was doing my weekly bay walk with my furry friend (Sydney the Schnoodle, not Mr Moneymaker), I was having the usual hundred or so random thoughts zooming through my head which I was hoping would form into a blog post.  Though no creative explosion happened, I thought I might have created a phrase for what happens in my head that I can create a list from. It is

"Walk Thoughts"

So here are some of the Walk Thoughts that zoomed through my brain on Sunday:

  • I've never seen a smiling runner.
  • I wonder if dogs are actually embarrassed when they use a tree as a toilet?
  • Why does my dog reverse his back legs UP the tree to have a poo?
  • Why do my sunglasses fall off everytime I bend over to pick up poo? Is my head too small? 
  • What is that throbbing pain in my ankle?
  • I wonder if there is any wine left in my fridge?
  • Why would anyone take their dogs for a walk in a carriage attached to your bike? Don't dogs love to walk?
  • Why do cyclists still ride on a very narrow road when there's a perfectly good bike track right next to them? Do they realise how angry those drivers stuck behind them are?
  • Why is my knee punishing me?
  • Come to think of it, all the wine is gone. It will have to be a vodka and tonic.
  • I wish I could run, I might be able to get rid of this spare tyre then.
  • Damn, the hole in my shoe is getting bigger (mental note, remember to cut toenails).
  • Why does Mothers' Day never live up to expectations? Even when you have the most minimal of expectations (like wishing that everybody would just get along for one day!)
  • How does my phone know exactly what kind of songs I need at certain moments - can anyone notice that I'm walking in time to R.E.S.P.E.C.T.?
  • Why hasn't anybody emailed me back about all those job applications I sent out?
  • What is that dinghy which looks like an indoor shower (or toilet?) doing in the middle of all those boats? 
  • Why does my dog hate black labradors? And more importantly, why does every cattle dog and pitbull type dog want to eat Sydney?
  • How come my knee and ankle pain moved to my opposite hip?
  • I hope I can still walk really fast for 7 kms when I'm in my 60's and 70's.
  • There's that woman that seems about five years older than me that sometimes runs around the bay in a funny stiff shuffle and sometimes walks (like now) with her dog (that is a blond version of mine) really fast, just like me. We smile at each other every time.
  • I think I might mix my vodka and tonic with that really nice lemon and lime cordial and sit on the balcony.
My mind keeps going but my body stops and goes upstairs to my drink on the balcony. Life's too heavy to think too much.

Boat Toilet or Shower?

Friday, May 9, 2014

International Blog Swap Day - Introducing Suzanne from UK's '3 Children and It'

I'm going global today, well reaching the UK anyway. I've signed up to take part in Digital Parents and Tots100's International Blog Swap Day 2014 where Aussie/NZ bloggers are paired up with a whole list of UK bloggers and we get to swap blog posts for the day.

You can see more IBSW14 posts here

I was paired with the lovely Suzanne from 3 Children and It who lives south of London in a beautiful village.  Please visit her blog and give her some Aussie hospitality.  She's kindly answered some questions I've put to her so we can get to know her a little.  I've also answered some of her questions and she has hosted me on 3 Children and It for the day.  (Seeing this happens to fall on our Friday, I've also killed two birds(!) with one stone and linked up With Some Grace for #FYBF).

Well this is all very exciting isn't it? If you're not quite sure what's going on, I'm Suzanne and I'm a thoroughly British blogger who has been given full permission to hijack Becci's blog for the day. I blog over at 3 Children and It about family life and all the highs and lows that come with parenting 1 Teenager and 2 Tweens, plus a little pooch who we all love dearly. 

In honour of International Blog Swap Day (yes, it was new to me too) Becci has given me free rein to say whatever I like. Well not exactly, she's actually provided me with some alarmingly thought-provoking questions, so here goes....

1. What era/decade/century would you have loved to live in besides now and why?

When I saw this, my heart sunk a little. I could conjure up some high falutin response but in all honesty, I'm not a romantic or a dreamer so have no burning desire to be anywhere other than the here and now. Having said that, I am somewhat drawn to period dramas (think Jane Austen) and although my husband rarely allows me to watch them, I do hanker after those cover-all dresses that hide a multitude of sins and the oh-so-polite courting that goes on. Wouldn't life be easier with teenagers in this era?!

2. What 'thing' that you own, will you never never never throw out (eg. old teddy bear, photo or keepsake)?

So this one got me thinking. Most items that hold sentimental value for me are more to do with my children, than my own childhood. Shall I let you into a secret? I have kept every single one of their teeth! Yes it's a little bit gross but I could never part with those.

Something slightly less 'weird' would be books. I haven't been able to keep every single book we have ever read together but there are a handful which were poured over night after night and these ones will be kept in a safe place to read with my Grandchildren one day (not just yet please!). 

My mum recently 'blessed' me with all of my old school reports from age 10 upwards. We had such fun reading through them, realising that I wasn't quite the 'swot' that I thought I was - my kids certainly enjoyed that bit! Although they aren't a vital part of life, it meant a lot that she had kept them....obviously I've now got to find a home for them amongst all the clutter. Thanks Mum! (picture of school reports).

3. What was the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you, either in childhood or adulthood?

Weirdly, I don't remember very much about my childhood - I take that as a good sign! I do recall referring to the teacher as 'mummy' on a few occasions (not cool) and my devoted mother offering to attend every school trip going (again, not cool). My sister and I eventually stopped bringing the letters home, in the hope that this would stop. Bless her, I know now that she was only trying to support us and her commitment to the cause was admirable but shameful at times too!

You may notice that I am avoiding talking about embarrassing moments from my adulthood. All I can say is it usually involves me and my big mouth....suffice to say, I'm learning.

4. What do you love most about where you live?

We live in the South East of England (about 1 hour from London) in what can only be described as 'suburbia'. We can walk into a medium-sized market town, the kids can catch a train into a slightly bigger town with better shops but we also have lots of green and wooded areas in which to walk the dog. It is very family orientated and was in fact voted the best town for families to live in the UK - deeming it the safest place. Enough said!

5. If you could be a person in history's mum, who would it be?

Argh! See my first sentence in response to question 1!  Gosh, what a loser, I can't think of anyone.....expect maybe Hitler, in the hope that I could stop him from doing all of those horrific things.

On that (rather depressing) note, I will sign off. Lovely to meet you all *waves* and if you fancy hopping over to my blog then I would love you to drop by. I can't promise tea and cake but I can promise a warm welcome.  You can find me on Twitter or 'like' my page on Facebook too. No excuses!

Thanks Suzanne!  x

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ladyboys, True To Be You

I was going to sit down and write a post about serious shit, like finding your place, mid life crisis, inspirational people and letting people know the true you.

But I watched 'Ladyboys' on ABC2 instead.

(Sahara on the left)*
So much more entertaining.

Its about the Miss International Queen pageant (the transgender equivalent of Miss World) being held in Pattaya, Thailand, where we took the family a few years ago for a holiday.  I guess the capital of Ladyboy city is a strange place for a family vacation, but it certainly opened their eyes.

You've got to give it to the those little boys who want to grow up to be big, busty, beautiful ladies. They know what they want, they've gone through so much pain, discrimination and harassment to be true to themselves, to their souls.

Not happy with your hair colour? Dye it.  Not happy with your weight?  Diet.  Not happy with your genitals? Take hormones, get a boob job and remove your tackle.

But seriously (apologies for the last paragraph to anyone going through the transgender process), if they can go through all that just so they can be the person they were meant to be, why can't everyone?

I'm sure the majority of us are being exactly what we need to be, but for those who complain they've never felt free to be themselves (including myself), be it from family, work or cultural restrictions, have a think about the boy called Sahara. He grew up in Nigeria and was beaten and considered evil, not only by his community but by his parents because he was 'different'. Sahara couldn't help what he was, but he stayed true to himself, left the negative people behind and moved to London to become the beautiful woman who became First Runner Up Miss International Queen (of course Miss Thailand came first, its fixed I tellzya!).

Anyway, moral to the story - don't watch ABC2 on Friday nights when you should be writing quality shit.

Or the other moral to the story ..... be brave and let your ladyboy out!  It probably won't involve genital surgery.

*Warning - DO NOT SEARCH LADYBOYS ON GOOGLE IMAGES!!!!  It is entirely X rated and will give the delicate of nature nightmares forever.

**Linking up With Some Grace for FYBF**

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

One Cockatoo or Two?

I've been a bit of a slack blogger lately, but a combination of suffering from vertigo, holding a baby shower for my sister-in-law, school holidays, friends staying for a week and just plain doing things off the interwebs, has given me no time or energy to get creative.

Last Saturday night the baby shower (or 'Baby Sprinkle' is apparently the term for the second baby) was bigger than Ben Hur, with 25 of my SIL's closest friends and family at my house for a pamper party. This is where one or three beauticians offer guests a choice of 15 minute facials, manicures, pedicures and general girly stuff for a bargain price (I highly recommend Emma's Mobile Beauty Service).  Though I was stressed about the whole event (never a fan of having to scrub my house before a party only to clean it all up again the next day), it turned out to be a great night.

About the time guests were arriving, my friend, D, her two kids and their dog from Melbourne arrived to stay for the week. We only get to catch up once or twice a year since they moved 3 years ago. We used to live at each others houses on the weekend and our kids are practically siblings. D and I used to work together and our partners raced each other to get us pregnant (that doesn't sound quite right). Our first borns arrived 8 days apart, our seconds one year and one week apart. We were there to swap babysitting nights for each other and she's the only one I can companiably cook in the same kitchen at the same time with.

I still had to work during the week (its been hard adjusting to not having school holidays anymore!), but we managed to have some lovely walks with the dogs and kids, a few games of cards, vodkas on the balcony and a night out with the Newtown mother's group (as well as a windy picnic at Coogee beach). Its odd to see these kids taller than us all playing together who, 15 years ago, were waddling around in the local beer garden stealing each others baby bottles.

After the Melbournites reluctantly left early yesterday morning (and we all had a lie in), I talked the husband son into a ferry ride to Cockatoo Island for the Biennale of Sydney (could not budge the daughter into moving out of her now empty room).  I've always wanted to visit the island (not just because of the name) and here was a definite reason. Not to mention the ferry ride.  I love catching the ferry anywhere in Sydney Harbour and the trip is way too quick from Drummoyne to the island.

But nothing will beat the commute I used to do in 1997 from Lavender Bay to Circular Quay on the tiny old wooden ferries that have been since retired. That feeling of rocking around on the waves and looking up at that bridge is a great way to start a work day.

The island was huge and full of great big spaces and machinery where art installations were slotted in.  They weren't all to our taste (or maybe we just didn't get the significance of a video of a half naked non gender specific human crouching on a cliff yelling for 10 minutes), but we enjoyed exploring the spaces. I loved the history of the place, particularly the ruins of the convict barracks. Just wish it had been at night. Maybe one night Mr Moneymaker and I could make a night of it, there was some great bars there and a row of tents available for glamping.

The ferry ride home wasn't so great. To just make the one stop from Cockatoo Island to Drummoyne, we had to change twice and it took us almost two hours to get home. Still better than driving in Sydney traffic though.

*Joining up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT*

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Life Balance and Imbalance

Everyone is talking about life balance.  That means you don't work too much or lay around too much. I've been thinking too much while laying around since Saturday because vertigo has struck me down like a giddy aunt.  If you're not familiar with it, it makes you very dizzy (even when simply turning your head) and nauseous.  Ironically, I've lost my balance.  Apparently there is no cause and besides taking Stemetil, no treatment but it passes after about five days. Thank goodness its been raining, the umbrella was a great walking stick disguised to help me get to the doctors.

But it gave me something to think about.  I don't like being sick and get frustrated when I can't do something. I've also been contemplating my working future at the moment - I'm temping (which is not great when you're sick - no pay!) while on the look out for the job that has that balance of something that interests me, using what skills I have, in an organisation I can believe in and with people I can click with. The ideal job would be an administrator, blog writer and reviewer for an organisation that promotes an environmentally sustainable lifestyle - and I actually applied for a position just like this!

I've made some misguided choices in the last seven months and feeling a little unsure of where I should head next. Just hoping my next choice is not a disaster or I'm going to start to think I've lost it.

They say you should spend a third of your life working, a third sleeping and a third doing leisurely pursuits (why do I just think of safari suits when I say that?).  Most of us may not have that balance quite right.

Total Hours in a week = 168

Hours working  (including going to and from work) = 40 + 9 hours of housework = 49
Hours sleeping = 56

So that means 63 hours left in the week which consists of driving kids to sports, to the shops and friends places, a couple of hours of exercise (should be more!), cooking, eating, reading, writing, watching TV (way too much), seeing movies and some socialising on the weekends. Oh and looking at what other people are doing on the internet.

This calculation shows my balance is out a bit but generally, not too bad.  Always feel I could do with a bit more sleep though. And to stop spinning out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A weekend of soul food

Last Sunday night I was on my way home from the Blue Mountains Music Festival.  I thought the Mongolian folk/punk/rock band that appeared at the festival was on the same carriage. I could have sworn it was them, I even had a look at their Facebook page to check and they had the short one, the tall one and the big one who had seemed so intimidating on stage in his traditional costume of studded leather arm/back vest and John Lennon sunnies (which made him look spookily like John Belushi). Now he was waking up and adjusting his 'Yankees' cap.  He was not so scary now in his t-shirt which just managed to cover his belly which last night was bursting out of a nasty, black leather belt that pushed the flesh out in a V at the front.

The last gig for me on Sunday was in the car park marquee with Grace Barbe from the Seychelles who was beautiful in voice and vision.  She had a full dance floor in front of the stage where dozens of very happy festival-ers were swaying as if they were on holiday in Jamaica (or the Seychelles for that matter), though we were sheltering from an icy wind and rugged up with jackets and scarves.

Grace Barbe - beauty, talent and attitude

Over at the Tantric Turtle Tent (yes, you read that right) there had been bands from Scotland, Ireland, some kind of Eastern European-sounding group and also the all girl indigenous singers and dancers.  On Saturday night the Scottish trio, the Borderers (led by a blonde, bobbed glamour in a tartan mini skirt and black lace knickers) got the crowd singing Hallelujah beautifully and then dancing to Gypsy music like they lived in tents.

Throughout the weekend you may have thought you were in Nimbin rather than Katoomba, but the locals know that its just the North Coast with snow here.

There's an eclectic mix of artists, writers, gardeners, musicians and random performers who live in the mountains.  I know that they all believe they are individuals (cue Life of Brian scene), but they dress and live as a clan that loves head wraps, yoga pants and tapestry ponchos.  They dress their beautifully grubby kids in layers of natural fibres and conflicting patterned dresses and eat lots of homemade bread and lentil curries.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, just don't pretend you're the first generation to live that way, its been around since the bohemian era in the early 1900's (and probably before).  Shunning the 'system', or rat race, and feeling smug about your environmentally friendly lifestyle (funny how so many of them have iPhones though...).

Don't get me wrong, I admire their commitment to dreadlocks, hemp pants and gluten free rice balls, but please don't look down from your free range high horse to those of us that don't boho all the way.  Some of us don't look good in paisley.

My sister is a Katoomba local (but not of the hippy variety) and has volunteered at the festival in previous years, but this weekend we were both there to enjoy. Enjoyed the music, the coffees, the curries, the baklava and brownies, the dancing, the people watching and the Hillbilly Peach Ciders in the Boho Bar.  I fell in love with this bar so much I want to recreate it in my house.

Its full of furniture found on the side of the road (literally! they have been adding to it for the past 19 years).  Vinyl chairs, old globes of the world, coffee tables topped with school maps, an old TV set circa 1975, wooden ironing boards used as bar benches and big comfy vinyl couches.  The floor is covered in old rugs and the marquee walls are covered in curtain materials not uncommon in homes of my childhood - think '70's, big orange and brown flowers.  They even have a hook rug and a string and nail abstract piece on the wall that is as ugly as the one I did in 6th class!

There's something about good, live music that feeds my soul.  I definitely need more of it in the future.

The Stray Sisters
George and Noriko

Spooky Men's Chorale
This weekend I've watched The Stray Sisters (formerly known as The Waifs, I got to chat/gush with Donna at the RSL ATM), George and Noriko (chatted to Noriko's husband and baby who was so cute I considered running off with - the baby, not the husband), The Pigs (funny and fun so I bought their CD's), The Spooky Mens Chorale (just a little bit weird), The Jess Valach Band (who I got to high five after his set).

The Pigs

Jeff Valach

Jeff Lang, Ash Grunwald and Ben Walker did their stuff on stage right in front of me, where I was so close to the speakers the hairs on my arm were vibrating (OK, actually waving in the breeze).  I've moved my hips more in one hour than I have in 8 weeks of belly dancing lessons.  I danced so hard at the end of Ash's set, I thought my heart was going to crash out of my chest and land on the stage (I really need to exercise more ...).
Benny Walker
Ash Grunwald

Jeff Lang
The poor young thing next to me was already overwhelmed by the action on floor.  I think she thought she had been kidnapped and plonked in the middle of a cult.  I saw her expression when he started his guitar up and she happened to be standing in front of the speakers, it was like a train had hit.  She scuttled away with her hands on her ears - and I took her spot.  It wasn't going to affect my hearing, I had damaged that long ago in pubs of my youth.

As I wrote this down on the train, I'm feeling peaceful and connected and until the chaos of home hits, I can get this all down on paper without any clutter or deadline.  But after two days away, I'm very happy to go home and get some hugs from my family (hopefully not only from my dog).

Peace and mung beans are good 'n all, but give me a well upholstered couch, a cup of tea and a cuddle and I'm just as happy.

*Joining Essentially Jess for #IBOT*

**Don't forget to enter my giveaway here to win a cocktail shaker set (I promise I will post a picture of it soon!)**

Friday, March 14, 2014

'I'm not a grown up yet' Giveaway FYBF

Its very strange how you can live for almost half a century and never feel grown up. Well except for those times where you're doing domestic duties and just want to lie down for a nap at four in the afternoon. 

Where am I going with this? Well lets first talk about what most adults do - work. 

As regular readers would know, I've been going through a few career changes, which means I've been jumping through a few jobs lately. I left my lovely comfortable position at the English school as it was about to close down and leapt into an independent high school where my sanity was tested and my health was threatened (do ulcers just come and go?). Once I got to the point where I didn't want to get up in the morning, I looked for an escape hatch. That seemed to be an ideal job in a small company that was promoting something I could believe in.

This did not work out. 

At this point I started to think there was something wrong with me. I've spent a lifetime (literally, for some, if their life has only been 28 years long) working hard in maybe half a dozen companies in a career I didn't quite choose but was good at. Office work. That can cover many things, I know, but in summary its administration and computer work.  I've had a think of what I've actually done since leaving school after year 10 and this is:

Library assistant
Database administrator
Office assistant
Contracts secretary
Environmental law secretary
Leasing executive secretary
Retail manager secretary
Legal secretary
Events coordinator
Financial administrator
Website sales
Web developer and editor
Desktop publisher
Human resources officer
Curriculum administrator
School registrar/secretary/first aid officer
Office Manager

These are all respectable jobs but its not what I chose so much as fell into due to previous experience. 

In fact what I was wished to be when i was at school was a writer. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is now I must go back to my 15 year old self and get on with it. What is encouraging is that in the last three years I've done more writing through this blog than I have in my entire life. Its no 'great Australian novel' but I've just had some fresh inspiration from a book I'm reading (a most lovely birthday gift from my family last week) by Janice McLeod called Paris Letters. Its her story how she lived her dream of having enough to live and travel through Europe for two years. Of course she was single, no kids and in her thirties, but her narration is very similar to what goes on in my head. She even blogged throughout it all. 

And don't worry Mr Moneymaker and spawn. I'm not going to shoot through and disappear (though most days they might dream about not hearing my nagging), but the whole concept of her paring down her life and not putting up with soul destroying work, was an attractive idea. 

Anyway now I need to get back to that book (I'm on a Katoomba bound train for the Blue Mountains Blues Music Festival) and stop typing on my phone.  Though there's so much more to say (not least about people watching on a Friday night train!). 

So is there any career you would have liked to venture into and just never got the chance?  Best answer (I've just decided) will win a prize of a cocktail shaker kit (which I've been meaning to give away for ages!).  Closing date midnight 27th March 2014.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

More changes

Well isn't it funny how things turn around.

That lovely job I was so excited about starting only lasted a little over four weeks.  I won't get into the details, but suffice to say what they wanted was different from what they asked and also from what I could deliver.  It's the only time in 32 years of working that I've been "let go" (as opposed to resigning or being retrenched).

As of yesterday I was given a week's notice and by this afternoon I've nabbed a two month temporary assignment at starting tomorrow! Can't afford to sit still for very long.

One thing I've learnt about myself in the last few months is my priorities have changed over the years.  I used to look for a job that would be exciting and challenging in a dynamic company, but lately I just want a fairly interesting job that gets me up in the morning and has nice people to talk to during the day.

So I'll try out temporary office work for awhile (it kept me in solid work for five years a lifetime ago) and meet lots of new people and see some different places.

**Joining up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT**

Friday, February 28, 2014

End of one season, start of another

(this is where I spent half of January)
So that was Summer, eh?

I love Summer but there are parts of Winter I love too, just not as much as Summer.  I'll miss the sitting out in the sun after dinner with a cool drink, not having to take forever to get dressed in the morning, not waiting for days for the washing to dry, being outdoors without having to take a coat and umbrella and getting social just because its sunny outside.

Winter has its good points too. There's comfort food and the fact that its actually enjoyable to cook, that its lovely to get snuggly in bed (unfortunately really difficult to get out of bed though), there's no sweating so its good to get out and get active and there's comfort food (did I mention that already?).

But I didn't come here to talk about the weather (ho hum), I wanted to say I'm on an 'up' today (as opposed to yesterday where it was all too hard). It may be because its Friday, or because I had a productive day at work and feeling that I've got a little more of a handle on things.  I'm also excited at the prospect of promoting not only the great stuff the people at my new workplace are doing for kids, but also promoting Mr Moneymaker's new business and life long dream.

He's selling the stuff that he loves, at last. A life-long lover of sport (not to mention the Nugget's personal Sports Manager), he has set up his own sport equipment brand, Cigno Sports and his days consist of choosing, selling and generally playing with, Soccer Balls (did you know that cigno is the Italian word for swan???).  I've even spent quite a few hours entering HUNDREDS of contacts into his database and though its been a bit of a risk (to the point where I may have to change his name from Mr Moneymaker to something else), its starting to build up.  The majority of business will be coming from Soccer Clubs in Queensland, NSW and Victoria so if you're involved in purchasing equipment for your club and you want quality, give him a call (don't forget to tell him I told you first!).

As for my new role, I'm so proud to be working for a company that has such a great concept and that can really make a difference to a young child's life.  The company is called Yoga To Go Kids and it takes the philosophy of mindfulness and well being along with a great habit for young children to take into their adult life. I've been there about four weeks now and I've been talking to the schools and the yoga teachers and seeing feedback coming back from the kids and the school teachers. Its wonderful what they're saying about the effects the classes have had on all the kids - the quiet ones, the loud ones, the hyperactive ones and the troubled ones. I'm really impressed and I want to tell everyone.
Yoga To Go Kids
Now my next move is to get the word out there about both businesses, not so much through this blog (though I will put a couple of buttons on the side here), but to promote through Facebook and Twitter.

Now if only they could afford to sponsor me to go the Digital Parents Conference in March! Oh well, that boat may have to leave without me. Literally.

*Joining With Some Grace for FYBF*