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Quote for the Day : Stronger and Stranger

“…My kids are starting to notice I’m a little different from the other dads. “Why don’t you have a straight job like everyone else?” they asked me the other day.  I told them this story:

In the forest, there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. Every day, the straight tree would say to the crooked tree, “Look at me…I’m tall, and I’m straight, and I’m handsome. Look at you…you’re all crooked and bent over. No one wants to look at you.” And they grew up in that forest together. And then one day the loggers came, and they saw the crooked tree and the straight tree, and they said, “Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest.” So the loggers turned all the straight trees into lumber and toothpicks and paper. And the crooked tree is still there, growing stronger and stranger every day…”

-― Tom Waits

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Taking Stock in May

Aggghhhhhh.  I had written a fairly long post here and it JUST DISAPPEARED. [insert swear word here].  I don’t know what happened.  It was there – and then it wasn’t.  So annoying!  I have no idea what I even wrote.  So I have to start again.  Sigh.  And, of course, what I wrote before would have been BRILLIANT to the point of being genius.  Now whatever I write will be rubbish!  Double sigh.

Anyway, moving on… What I had been saying, before I was rudely interrupted by computer tomfoolery, was that one of my favourite blogs is Meet Me at Mike’s, created by the very talented Pip Lincolne.  It’s a great little blog, with lots if inspirational ideas and good stuff.  In fact, the blog’s tagline is “Good Stuff for Nice People”.

One of the regular things Pip does is have a “Taking Stock” post, where she lists the things she is doing that month (or week, or whatever), the things that are inspiring her and the every day stuff that is making her world go ’round.  She’s even kind enough to have a prompting list you can copy and paste.  And you know I am lazy and need that kind of help in my life.  I pretty much wish that life could be one long list that someone else writes for you, and you just have to fill in the blanks.  Even better if they let you fill in the answers with a pencil.  That way, if you make a boo-boo, you can erase it and start again.  I’d probably go through a lot of erasers.

So, my “Taking Stock” list for May…

Making : A mess.  Always.
Cooking : Lots of comfort food.  It’s cold and I am sick of eating salad.  So, soups and polenta and porridge are the go.  I am trying to avoid making cookies…sigh.
Drinking :  Tea.  Always tea.  But a lot of Passionfruit and Hibiscus tea.  Because it is      delightful.  I don’t normally do “fruity” teas.  They smell wonderful but taste pretty insipid.  Like watered-down cordial.  But this tea is fab.  It does, unfortunately, smell a little bit like cat pee.  But it tastes delicious.  You should try it.
Reading : I just finished “The Good Mayor” by Andrew Nicoll.  It’s bloody delightful.  One of the reviews describes it as a book that “makes you want to go out and fall in love” and, indeed, that is very true.  I don’t read romance novels (AT ALL) because – hello! – I’m bitter and twisted, but this one is different. It’s quirky and funny and heartbreaking and, oh, just read it already!  I couldn’t put it down.  You won’t be able to either.
Trawling : Job sites, sadly.  Times are a-changing.
Wanting : A steamer for my clothes.  I know – pathetic.  But some of my clothes are very tricky to iron and I don’t end up wearing them much because I dread the inevitable crease-fest.
Looking : Home-decorating books and magazines and websites.  My house does not reflect this, but one day it shall.  Oh yes!
Deciding : Whether I should get rid of my bead / jewellery-making stash.  I need to de-clutter and figure out exactly what I want to do, craft-wise.  But I know that as soon as I get rid of it all, I will need/want it.  Such is the life of a hoarder…
Wishing : I could win the Lottery.  The big one.  The one where I could buy my family and friends houses and set everyone up for life.  Money can’t buy happiness but it can go a long way towards taking some worry and stress away.
Enjoying : My guilty pleasure is Catfish.  The TV show, not the actual fish.
Waiting : For a family announcement.
Liking : Hiking.  Ooh, that rhymed!  I am very unfit and hurt for days afterwards, but I do enjoy getting out and walking in the sunshine and fresh air.  Exercise doesn’t have to suck.  I’m not going to be scaling Mount Everest any time soon, but I am liking trekking around our local landscape.
Wondering : Why I am like I am.  But I cannot afford more therapy so I will have to figure it out on my own or just quit wondering.  Embrace the weirdo that is me!
Loving : My family and friends.  I am so blessed.  A lot of people have come into my life that I am so grateful for.
Pondering : Life, The Universe, and Everything.  And also why I can’t stop thinking about food for three whole seconds.
Considering : Taking up yoga.
Buying : Home maintenance stuff.  My house is falling to pieces.
Watching : I’m a bit obsessed with Russel Brand this month.  So I am re-watching a bunch of his DVDs.  I mean DVDs with him in it.  I don’t mean I broke into his house and stole a load of his personal DVDs and then watched them.  That would be weird.
Hoping : That things will be ok.
Marvelling : At how beautiful, wise and loving my nephews and nieces are.  They never cease to amaze me, and give me hope for the future.
Cringing : At how much Income Protection insurance costs.  When you have pre-existing conditions, you basically have to pay double what everyone else does.  So I get to have a kidney problem, mental heath issues AND a huge insurance fee.  Awesome.  Two thumbs up.  As soon as I decide to drop the insurance, I know I will get hit by a car or attacked by killer bees or something.
Needing : Better exercise clothes.  I tend to do the baggy-pants-and-baggy-t-shirt combo and I generally look like a bag lady.  A sweaty, wheezy bag lady.  I am not confident enough to wear the tight, workout gear everyone has these days.  But I should probably try to be – it would give me more incentive to actually get my butt into gear.  So I can get my butt into the trendy gear, so to speak and look less homeless.
Questioning : My life.  What the heck am I doing with it???
Smelling : The lack of perfume on me.  I have run out of my favourite scent – “Butt Naked” by Somethin Special.  Terrible name but I love the smell of this perfume oil.  I always get complimented on it and it’s just a happy, yummy scent. It’s got top notes of strawberry, cherry and coconut, which is just delightful.  Plus it is not tested on animals, which makes me very happy indeed.
Wearing : Warmer clothes.  And Pants.  Ugh.  I hate pants (trousers, slacks, jeans).  I did just buy some cropped, linen pants which I actually don’t hate.  They are very comfortable and I don’t feel like a lumpy, dumpy sausage in them.  In fact I feel rather nautical.  If I wear them with a blue and white stripey sweater, I feel downright jaunty!
Noticing : How people don’t say “Bless You” when you sneeze anymore.  It’s so rude.  I just say “Bless Me” when I sneeze now.  Cuts out the middle man.
Knowing : I have a LONG way to go before I am an adult.
Thinking : Way too much.  But not about the right stuff.
Admiring : Sarah Michelle Gellar.  She just seems like a decent human being.  A great Mum, and wife, and she doesn’t get caught up in all the celebrity nonsense.  Plus, y’know, Buffy kicks arse!
Getting : Lots of bills.  Man, they are all coming at once!  Pretending they are not there does not help.
Feeling : Anxious.  Lots going on.
Hearing : At the moment I have Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels” in my head. Constantly.  That’s probably because I keep playing it. Constantly.  Don’t judge me – it’s a good song.  I miss the 80s.
Embracing : Wearing glasses.  I am trying really hard to remember to wear them.  Most of the time they end up on my head, like a hair band, rather than on my face.  But I’m trying…

So that’s me for the month.  Lots happening and lots to think about and worry about.  What are you up to in May?  Any big plans for change or transformation?

Thanks for dropping by – and DO check out Pip Lincolne’s great blog, Meet Me at Mike’s – you’ll get lots of inspiration and ideas 🙂

 x

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Now I am Forty-Three

So, today is my 43rd birthday.  Forty-three.  Four decades-and-a-bit.  Where the hell did those years go?!  I’m sure time speeds up as you get older.  I know I am very aware of time passing and, more depressingly, time running out.

Last year, I wrote a post about being forty two, and what I knew to be true at that point.  Not much has changed since then.  I still don’t know what the heck I am doing half the time, but I guess that’s ok.  I hope so anyway.  Though there is still a tonne of stuff I don’t know, there are some things which I know to be true FOR SURE.

  1. After forty, the body basically gives up and tells you where you can stick your diets and exercise.  Things sag and bulge and lose the ability to look like they did when you  were twenty.  This is ok.  Horrible and annoying, but ok.  No one else will notice except for you, because they are all too busy worrying about their own saggy bits, so don’t focus on it too much.  If you do, you will become dull, depressing AND saggy.  And that’s just sad.
  2. Don’t worry too much about trying to figure out your face shape.  Whether it is a heart or an oval or a dodecahedron doesn’t really matter.  Just wear what you like and grow your hair in a way that causes you the least amount of stress.  No one is going to come up to you in the street and berate you for having a fringe with a round face.
  3. Now that you have given up on trying to understand boys,do not turn your attention to understanding men (who are, after all, just little boys with bigger and more expensive toys).  It’s even harder and will give you a migraine.
  4. Try new hair colours.  Blonde is inevitable, but these days so is pink, lilac and blue. Avoid doing that black-underneath-and-white-on-the-top style.  You WILL look like a back-to-front skunk.  Do not trust your friends who tell you you look “fabulous” with such a style.  “Fabulous” is code word for “We understand you are going through a phase and hope you grow out of it soon”.  Cover grey hair if you feel you must – don’t feel guilty or vain for doing so.  Similarly, don’t let people tell you you shouldn’t let yourself go grey.   Schnauzers are grey and they are awesome.  Do what you want and what you can afford . Unless it’s the skunk thing.
  5. Hang out with small children when you can.  It’s best if you ask their parents first. Don’t just pick up random children on the street – that is frowned upon.  And frowning causes wrinkles.
  6. Be kind.  Always.  To yourself and to others.  It is painless and gives you brownie points in heaven.  Maybe.  I’m not sure about that one.  At the very least, it makes you happier and will stop wars from happening.  Maybe, I’m not sure about that one either.
  7. Read all the books you can.  Do not waste time on books you “can’t get in to”.  Life is too short to be wasting it on books you don’t connect with.  They’re like people – some of them are just not your type and can be annoying and obnoxious, dull or long-winded.  Give them away and start a new book.  If one thing in life is guaranteed, it’s that you will NEVER run out of books.
  8. Don’t worry about getting married, or finding a boyfriend (or girlfriend) or being in a relationship at all.  You’re perfectly ok without that stuff.  Don’t settle for something just because everyone else is doing it.  You’re not everyone.  You’re you.  And you’re amazing.  If someone comes along who deserves a piece of that amazingness, by all means hold on to them for dear life.  But don’t wait for them.  They might be a little bit tardy, and you can waste a lot of time hanging around, hoping they show up.
  9. Don’t buy shoes you have trouble walking in.  You will look like a twit.
  10. At some point you will find yourself saying “Music today is RUBBISH!” and bemoaning the fact no one can write a decent song any more.  Face it, you have become your parents.  Don’t fight it.
  11. Try a nice bright lipstick.  And then immediately wipe it off because it looks ridiculous.  But yay you for trying new things!
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    Bright pink lipstick – not convinced.

     

  12. Accept and embrace other people’s lifestyles.  There are billions of people on the Earth and every one of them is a bit weird.  We’re all weird so, technically, nothing is weird.  As long as you’re not hurting children, kicking puppies or mugging old ladies, you’re fine.  You don’t have to join in with someone else’s lifestyle, but you should allow them to get on with it, as they see fit.  Mind your own business.
  13. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.  It’s too hard and makes people think you’re a wanker.  Just be you.  Crazy, perfectly imperfect YOU.  People will like you or they won’t.  Better they decide based on the real you.
  14. Be silly.  As much as you can.  If no one wants to join you, do it by yourself.  Don’t grow up – it is tiresome and makes you forget all the wonderful things that still make up life on Earth.  Believe in fairies, delight in rainbows, and remember how big the world used to seem, and how many possibilities it contained.
  15. Do own and wear comfortable, sensible underwear.  If it itches, rides up, cuts in or just makes you angry, don’t wear it.  Do not buy into the tabloid horror that is “CELEBRITY CAUGHT WEARING GRANNY KNICKERS!!!”  You are not a celebrity and, even if you are, your undergarments are your own business.  I’m sure most road rage incidents are caused by people wearing too-tight knickers.  It just makes you cranky and unable to make rational decisions.
  16. Let it go.  Forgive.  Love.  Don’t hold grudges.  Build a bridge and get over it.  Life is too short to hold on to bitterness.  It will eat you up and make you unpleasant to be around.  You will probably not get invited to parties and people will do a lot of eye-rolling around you.   Don’t be that person.  Let it go, let it go, let it go.  If that doesn’t work, makes yourself a voodoo doll and have at it.
  17. Grow a garden.  Whether that means a tiny succulent in a teacup on your window sill, or an acre of vegetables, grow something.  Nurturing another living thing is good for your soul.  It tunes you in to the Earth and life and the nature of things.  But if the tiny succulent in a teacup on your window sill dies, for Goodness’ sake get rid of it.  A dead thing is unsettling and depressing and will make you feel like a failure.
  18. Cultivate friendships.  Make time for them.  Let your friends know you love and care for them.  Be soppy about it.  People might pretend to be embarrassed  but they secretly like it.  Just knowing someone is thinking about them can brighten a person’s day and make the world a little less lonely.  Add smiley faces to your emails, be cheeky to your boss, and bring cupcakes to work to share.  Life is hard, smiles are free – to combat one, give lots of the other.  Hug.  Listen to people’s stories and remember small details to talk about later (so they know you paid attention).  Notice when someone is sad or anxious or just struggling with the weight of the world.  Just being noticed can make a big difference.
  19. Being sensitive is a good thing.  Empathy is not weakness, it is very much a strength.  Don’t let others “toughen you up” or tell you how to feel.  The world has plenty of  tough, un-empathetic, un-feeling people in it, and look where that has gotten us.
  20. You can’t fix everybody.  This is something I have taken a long time to learn, and I am not done learning it.  Be a good listener, offer practical help where you can, and support the people you love.  But do not try and fix them.  That’s not your job and you are setting yourself (and them) up for failure.  Everyone is on their own journey and it is not your job to run ahead every few miles, filling in pot-holes and watching out for pedestrians, stray dogs and traffic jams.  You can give them directions and point out a few landmarks, but you can’t drive the car for them.

So, another year older and probably not much wiser.  But that’s ok – life is a learning process, right?  I’m glad to have reached the ripe old age of forty-three.  I wouldn’t like to be twenty-three again, although I wouldn’t mind having the extra twenty years up my sleeve to do some things over.

Hope you are happy today, whatever your age 🙂

Thank you for stopping by x

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Fringe Benefits

So I got my hair cut today.  Bravely, I might add, because I hate going to the hairdresser.  I never know what to ask for, and having to sit and look at myself for an hour is not fun for me.  But I knew I needed to get at least the ends cut today because they were getting a bit ratty.  I decided to also get a fringe.  I took some pictures of Alexa Chung with me because I like her hair.  Do I now look like a 20-something super model?  No, sadly not.  But I think I like it anyway.  Just gotta work out how to style it myself (this is not my forte) and get used to having hair in my face again.

The hairdresser blow-dried it kinda funny at the bottom so it is doing a weird,curly, kinky thing, but it will settle I guess (and then it will go back to just being my normal, boofy, uncontrollable hair).  Anyway, it’s done now – can’t glue it back on.  It’s a fresh look for my birthday next week anyway.  I didn’t want to turn another year older with the same hair I’ve had for nearly 10 years.  And I am trying to be braver this year.  Even small little changes are scary to me, so getting my hair cut is actually a fairly big step (dumb, I know). Because I never trust my own judgement about anything.  But hair grows back, right?  So it’s less scary than, say, getting a tattoo or moving to another country.

It is going to be VERY hot this week and so getting a fringe was probably not the best idea but, let’s be honest, good ideas are not really my thing.  I can always pin it back or wear a hair band or something.  Or shave it – there’s always that option 🙂

Trying Again

Trying Again

So, it’s that time of year again.  Resolution time.  Last year,  I called it “New Year’s Revolutions“, and the year before that I wrote a long and detailed list of the things I wanted to change and achieve in the coming months.  I’m not very good at keeping to my resolutions.  I do try, but usually fail by about, oh, January 5th.  But the whole point of a New Year is being given another chance.  Another chance to try again.  And try I shall.

But I am also going to not limit myself to just trying at New Year’s.  Every day should be a new chance to try again.  I think part of the reason I fail is that I use the whole “New Year” thing as an excuse for not trying for the next 11 months.  But, I say optimistically, with fingers behind my back, I am done with excuses.  I am going to treat every day like New Year’s, which means I can start fresh every morning.  If I fail, I just have to keep going until I succeed.

This is my plan.  I am not good at plans so failure is almost guaranteed but I have now given myself permission to not give up.  And not quit.  I am very good at quitting but I am going to try and not do that too often this year.  There are things I need to achieve and overcome this year (too personal for even over-sharing me to discuss here) and I will not reach any of my goals if I keep giving up.  There are things about myself I need to change and fix if I am to go forward in life.

There are the usual goals about weight loss. Sigh.  How long have I been making that my New Year’s Resolution?  What, 25-30 years now?  I have yo-yoed back and forth between one weight and another for some many decades, I have no idea what my natural body shape and size is any more.  But I have hated my body at whatever size it is, and I need to stop doing that.  My body survived a life-threatening illness and I need to remember that.  I need to remember and acknowledge that it survived against all odds and kept going, no matter what.  So, if nothing else, I should treat this old rust-bucket of a body with some respect.  Sure, it’s a little flabbier and wobblier than I would like, but it’s still there.  I’m still upright and breathing, walkin’ around with all my limbs and digits and brain cells (although that last point is debatable).  So I need to try to be as healthy as I can.  Which doesn’t necessarily mean being as skinny as I can.  It means feeding my body with the right fuels and exercise.  It’s not about fitting into a tighter skirt or being able to get away with short shorts.  It’s about being healthy and fit and strong.  I haven’t been that for a long time and I really need to get my shit together where that is concerned.  My body deserves that, it really does.

I need to think about my career.  I need to seek that which will bring me fulfilment and authenticity and joy.  I don’t know if it is possible to have that in a 9-5 job, but I am going to try and find out.  I like my current job, but I don’t love it.  It doesn’t full me with excitement or happiness or anything even remotely approaching those things.  It pays my bills and gives me a sense of satisfaction some days and I am very grateful for it.  It provided me with security and emotional support when I needed it most.  But it isn’t my dream job and I have to figure out what is.  Because I really don’t know.  And time is running out.  At some point I am going to have to figure out what I am supposed to be doing, what I want to be when I grow up.  Because I truly don’t know yet. Failing that, I need to be ok with having “just a job” and acknowledge that it allows me to do the things I do enjoy in life, outside of work.  We can’t all be Oprah.  Some of us have to have the little boring jobs that keep the world turning.

I need to be less of a hoarder.  I know I say this on a weekly basis, but seriously, I just need to learn to let go of things.  Things are not people.  I can let go of a bunny ornament someone gave me in the fifth grade.  They will not mind if I give it away now.  The world will not collapse and I am not a bad person if the Christmas card I got in 1983 from a classmate ends up in the recycling bin (seriously, I just found that card today and struggled with getting rid of it). I have to learn to hold on to memories, instead of stuff.  But it is hard.

I need to start learning to say No.  I need to be ok with saying No and not feel guilty about it or try and make up for it by doing more than the original request asked for.  I need to learn not explain my No – the No itself should be enough.

I really, really need to learn to like myself a little more.  Or at all.  I don’t know how to do this, and if you have any suggestions, please send ’em on over.  I don’t know how to like what I see in the mirror.  I don’t know how to not lie awake at night thinking about all the things I did wrong in the day, all the mistakes I made and how many people I let down.  I need to stop thinking of myself as ugly and useless.  But it’s really hard to break the habit of a lifetime.  And how do you change the way you look to yourself – get new eyeballs?  I need an Instagram filter for my own eyes.

I need to learn to deal with my social anxiety.  Deal with it and accept it and learn coping strategies.  Because I am not going to become a social butterfly overnight.  I don’t even know that I want to.  I just want to be free of the terror that comes with invitations to parties and weddings and shindigs.  I want to be able to accept these invitations happily and easily and not dread their impending hour.  I need to be ok with NOT accepting them too.  I need to not beat myself up about not going to things.  I’m not a terrible person, after all, if I decide that a pub crawl is not my thing or if time spent at a Hen’s Night is enough to make me want to gouge my own spleen out.  But I do need to be better at social stuff.  It is hard every day for me, just interacting with human beings in general, and I need to be able to take that off my stress list.  Again, I don’t know how to do this, but I am going to try and figure it out.

I need to grow up financially.  I need to budget better and spend less on frivolous things.  I need to seriously look at buying a house.  Which will mean buying somewhere that is in a suburb less lovely than the one I currently rent in.  I cannot afford to buy here and I need to accept that.  Or get a better-paying job.  Or marry someone really rich (ha!  kidding!).  I don’t actually know if I can afford to buy anywhere, but I need to look in to it and find out for sure.  I need to sort out my future security and top up my superannuation and prepare for the impending zombie apocalypse on my own.  I need to secure my future.  And I need to have my own place so I can get a cat.  This is more important than anything.

I need to laugh and smile more.  I need to fake it ’til I make it.

I need to go to bed earlier and sleep better.

I need to get up earlier and do more in my day.

I need to ask for a pay rise.

I need to delegate better at work.  I have an assistant – she should be assisting me.
And I have to let her.

I have to stop being scared of men.

I need to stop comparing myself to other women.

I need to hug more and allow myself to be hugged.

I need to swim more and not worry about what I look like in bathers.  I love the beach – why am I not there all the time?

I really do need to learn to use chopsticks.

I have to travel.  At least one destination per year from now on.

I need to stop trying to fix people and their problems.  I can’t help everyone and I should sort my own stuff out first, before I concentrate on other people’s issues.

I need to express my disapproval of racist/sexist/bigoted jokes and comments when in social situations.  Saying nothing is not good enough anymore.

I need to stop procrastinating.  In regards to everything.

I’m going to write more.  Writing is what I love to do and, even if it’s just for me, I need to make time to do it.

I need to breathe more.

I need to practice gratitude.

I need to be kinder to myself.

I am going to try and not feel guilty about having restful days.  I’m not good at relaxing or doing nothing – and I think you sometimes have to give yourself permission to do that so you can rest and recuperate and give your body and mind some breathing space.

I need to be more ecologically friendly and responsible.

I need to see more people and be less hermit-like.  Whether I like it or not to begin with.

I need to just be. And be ok with whatever and whoever I am.  Because I am tired of fighting ME.  And I’m nearly 42.  Enough already 🙂

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Sorry for the long post.  As always, it is more for me than anyone else. I hope you have a lovely New Year’s and that the year ahead is happy, successful, fulfilling and authentic.  I hope you have love and laughter, joy and positive experiences.  Learn lots, love lots and let go.

Happy New Year everyone – see you in 2016 x