International Women’s Day

I wrote this several years ago, when my child was small, as a Christmas gift to my women friends. I’ll have to write an updated one, as I have yet more to be grateful for now!  But in the meantime, on this International Women’s Day, this one’s for the women:

Thank you, God, for the blessing of the women in my life.

Thank you for the ones who, when you are in tears because you have too much on your plate, won’t tell you that you need to plan better, but will come around and take your child so that you can have a break; finish the job; do whatever you need to do, to stop crying.

Thank you for the ones who will take your child for an unscheduled sleepover on a school night, just because you have been in hospital.

Thank you for the ones who spend four hours making cribs for homemade baby Jesus-es just because they are beautiful and the kids will love them.

Thank you for the ones who praise your gifts and overlook your failings.

Thank you for the ones who, no matter how spotless their houses are, never remark on the state of yours.

Thank you for the ones who understand that, when you don’t call, it’s just because life has got on top of you and not that you don’t care.

Thank you for the ones you invite you for dinner at the drop of a hat – and really mean it.

Thank you for the ones who actively like it when you drop in unannounced.

Thank you for the ones who cook like angels and don’t mind giving you the recipes.

Thank you for the ones who will drive your mutual friends out to see you, even when it is out of their way.

Thank you for the ones who bring food, rather than flowers, in times of crisis.

Thank you for the ones who bring flowers when there isn’t a crisis, just because.

Thank you for the ones who make you laugh – and who laugh at your jokes.

Lord, they say that women are like teabags – you never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.  What they don’t say is that there is no such thing as one woman in hot water – because when one falls in, you’ll find another dozen jump into the pot with them to cool the water down.

Lord, I am humbled by, and grateful for, the love you bring into my life through the women in it.

Thank you for the women.

I was amused to note, as I typed this, that I think I can still name the woman who inspired each sentiment.  How lucky am I, to have had and still have such friends?

Little Gems contest placegetters

So this happened… I’m so happy they liked my little story!

Romance Writers of Australia

Congratulations to our Little Gems prizewinners:

Equal First prize: Courtney Clark Michaels and Imelda Evans

Second prize: Shannon McEwan

Equal Third prize: J. Keneally and Rose Pearse.

In addition, the following authors have been invited to participate in the 2017 Little Gems Onyx anthology:

Heidi Catherine
Kat Colmer
Frances Dall’Alba
Fiona Greene
Jillian Jones
Caitlyn Lynch
Fiona Marsden
Jane Newton
Stella Quinn.

Congratulations to all our entrants – the score required to reach the anthology list was high and as you can see, it was very difficult to separate the stories! Thanks as usual to all our volunteer judges, and the contest manager Lis Hoorweg.

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Taking arms against the nonsense inside my head…

Sigh.

The day may come when I am not an over-the-top, self-sabotaging eejit, but it is not, apparently, this day.

Here’s what happened:

This January, as part of a positive approach to the new year, focused on more, not less, I decided that I would eat more fruit and veg and exercise more.

I already probably eat more veges than a lot of people, but I thought I’d go all out and try to get my two fruit and five veg, every day.  And I can always do with upping my exercise.

So I pulled out all the stops.  I bought more fruit and reminded myself to eat it.  I brushed up on what constituted a serve of veges and even set up a spread sheet to keep track of progress.

Are we getting an inkling that trouble might be around the corner?  Are we feeling the shadow of overdoing it?  Are we?

Well I wasn’t.  Not yet.  I was just keen and keeping myself accountable!  These are good things, right?

And it went well, I thought.  I ate MORE than two pieces of fruit, some days!  I kept track of the veges.  I loaded our dinner plates with salad to the point that the other members of my salad-loving family couldn’t eat it all – but I stoically ploughed through.

But then…

I noticed that my weight, which has been stable or slightly reducing for several years now (which is a good thing, after a lifetime, on and off, of disordered eating) was increasing!

Quelle Horreur!

It couldn’t be the veges, surely?  They’re healthy!  So I must not be doing enough exercise!  I had dropped off a bit over the summer holidays.  No problem.  I was going to the pool anyway.  I’d just up the duration.  I’d go for an hour every day, instead of half an hour and I would prioritise the endurance movement over the stop-start strength work.

But then my knee, which is still recovering from an old injury, recently aggravated, started hurting and I admit, I got a little panicky.  The soundtrack in my head went something like this…

I’m doing all the right things!  I’m eating so many veges I think I’ll master photosynthesis any day now!  I’m exercising for an hour several days a week and pushing for more!  But I’m still gaining weight!  Why does the world hate me?  What can I dooooo?

Can you hear the hyperventilating though the computer?

Every perfectionist, diet-scarred, self-flagellating trigger I had was being stomped on and I was at serious risk of succumbing to The Fear – and that way, madness, bingeing and depression lie.

(‘The Fear’ btw, is my shorthand for the irrational reaction that comes from having your buttons pushed and leads you to freeze up, stop thinking clearly and do things that send you in the opposite direction from your goal.  I am regrettably prone to it)

BUT…

I took a deep breath.  Oh, let’s not kid ourselves.  It was quite a few deep breaths over a couple of weeks.  But they let me think.  Really think, instead of letting the perfectionist panic take over the brain space.

And I realised a few things.

  1. In my enthusiasm to hit my fruit and vege targets, I had been ignoring the mindful eating that I have worked so hard on in recent years and which is largely responsible for the stable weight. After years of dieting, learning to get back in touch with my body’s cues about when I’ve had enough is an ongoing effort and apparently, easily forgotten, when I have another goal.  And guess what?  Even veges can put on weight if you eat your own body-weight in them on a daily basis!
  2. There was a reason why I was doing all that strength work at the pool. It’s because that’s what my POOR KNEE, STILL RECOVING FROM AN INJURY, needs.  HOURS OF REPETITIVE STRAIN IS NOT HELPFUL YOU GIANT NUMPTY.
  3. General health advice is not applicable to every person in every situation, SOMETHING I HAVE KNOWN SINCE I WAS A TEENAGER, but apparently can forget at a moment’s notice.
  4. Knee-jerk (ha!) reactions and my perfectionist tendency to overdo things can still come and bite me in the bottom if I am not vigilant.

So…

I have chilled out on the fruit and veges.  I am still trying to increase the vege content of my meals and still buying more of the fruit I like.  But I have stopped recording it in the spread sheet, since that seems to be setting off my extremist tendencies.

I have reminded myself about the mindful eating and have restarted the hypnosis app I use to support it subliminally.  And guess what?  The weight is going down again.

I gave my poor knee several days of complete rest and have started using my walking pole again. (It’s not the sort of stick you rest on, more of a bush-walking aid.  It helps me stay balanced and it keeps me from favouring the knee and causing more trouble.)

And today, I am going to the pool to do my strength exercises, in the warm hydro pool, which is why I started going to the pool in the first place and which, clearly, I still need!

It’s chastening, at my age, to realise that I am still prone to the same loony-ness I’ve been battling my entire life.  (If I was talking morals, I guess I could describe perfectionism as my besetting sin. 😉 )

But at the same time, it’s encouraging to discover that at least I can recognise it now, have a laugh at myself and reset, rather than hopping straight on the shame spiral that leads to self-destruction and self-hatred.

So, despite starting this with a sigh, I’m going to count this as a win.  Onward and upward!  Gently!  And I’m going to have some gratuitous Aragorn, to remind myself that, while the day has not yet come that I am over my own craziness, nor have I given up – and that is, after all, what the quote is about.

Do you have any unhelpful behaviours that stalk you, ready to pounce if you let your guard down?  Any that you’ll admit to, to help me feel less of an eejit? 😉

 

THROW KINDNESS – EVERYWHERE.

I have some blogs waiting to be finished, but my friend Clare said this and I agree wholeheartedly and couldn’t have said it better. THROW KINDNESS! DO IT TODAY!

clarewriteslove

There’s a sign on my son’s school door. It says, THROW KINDNESS LIKE CONFETTI!

I love this. But until today, I loved it in a kind of abstract way. Like, aw, that’s sweet, my son’s teacher is warm and fuzzy.

Today, I started to see it in a new way – as a sage piece of advice worth heeding literally.

In February 2014, Charlotte Dawson tragically suicided after being trolled relentlessly by vile cowards. She engaged with them, and she bore their insults; she took their horrible, baseless epithets, to heart. As most of us would. They were relentlessly evil.

And her life ended.

These people, I have no doubt, murdered her. Not with a gun, nor a knife, but with a weapon that is now accessible to EVERYBODY and at ANYTIME. Without exercising good judgement, it is a weapon that people can wield even accidentally. How easy it is to be sassy and…

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A few of my (current) favourite things…

It’s been a bit serious on the old blog of late, so I thought I’d lighten things up with some snippets from youtube that have amused me lately.

First, in honour of Valentines day, the adorable lads of Out Of The Blue are here to sing you a song:

Next, we have the inimitable Miriam Margolyes (who I’m pretty sure was born without any f**ks to give and who I want to be when I grow up):  WARNING FOR THE GENTLY NURTURED: MIRIAM MARGOLYES IS NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK, CHILDREN, OR PROBABLY LIFE.  (Funny, but.)

And then, a very short visual explanation of why I’m a Cumberbitch to my bootstraps.  Phwoar!  (If you’ve seen the season of Sherlock this is from, you’ll know that this might not even have happened and Molly will never have Sherlock to keep, but none of that matters.  It’s still amazing!)

And now I must climb out of the youtube rabbit hole and do some work!  Enjoy your Wednesday!

Talking Philosophy with the cold caller

So yesterday, a young man knocked on my door.  I live in the suburbs and work from home, so his happens from time to time.  I always answer the door, because about half the time, it’s the postie delivering something and I really don’t want to have to go to the post office to pick it up.  Occasionally, it’s even a friend or neighbour!  But often, it’s someone who wants me to do or buy something (and yes, I consider changing electricity providers as ‘buying something’).

flowers

Beautiful photo courtesy of my friend, Alexandra Oke, Soprano (multi-talented human)

If they are collecting for a charity, I consider the request.  If they are kids selling school fundraising chocolates or the like, I buy some.  (It’s only neighbourly and I am, after all, a writer.  Coffee and chocolate are necessary adjuncts to the creative process.)  If they open with ‘I’m not selling anything,’ they get short shrift, as I object to being lied to.  (The politeness or otherwise of the short shrift depends on whether they let me get a word in edgewise and how well the writing was going before they interrupted.) Continue reading

Feel Good February

Further to my post on Thursday, here’s a primer for how to do some good in your community.

feel-good-feb-2

This graphic came from my new friends at Feel Good February.  A friend put me on to them the other day I thought it was a fabulous idea.  The graphic below explains the concept, but you might want also to visit their website or Facebook page. Continue reading

Fighting the good fight without going mad

So Donald Trump is the President of the United States and a lot of people are very frightened.

I am a student of history (literally, I studied it at university) and I see very alarming parallels between the actions of the Trump administration and the early days of Hitler and the Nazis.  I’m not alone in this. The tweet below went viral this week, because many people can see the same similarities.

holocaust-museum

I am worried about where this is going and I am worried about what is happening right now. Continue reading

Encouraging change. Or, how not to be a dick about things that matter

Okay, I’m going to make myself unpopular here, I’m sure.  Because these days, it seems that everyone has a cause and the way they show their social responsibility is by being a giant pain in the arse about it. And dog help anyone who dares to suggest that they should get off their soapbox for a second.  But I’m still under the influence of the Honesty Ferret, so what the hell, I’m going to suggest exactly that. (At some length, too, because it’s taken me a while to tease out these ideas, so consider yourself warned!)

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am the last person to say that one shouldn’t have ideals, causes and campaigns.  As someone concerned about the environment, poverty, women’s rights and social justice – and far from quiet about any of those issues – it would be very hypocritical of me to say anything of the sort.

And I’m not going to mention a certain person, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that there are changes happening in the corridors of power in 2017 that are making a lot of people very edgy.

But I’m here to say that it’s precisely because there are important issues in the balance – vital issues, matters of life and death – that we have to be nice to each other. When the world appears to be going mad, we HAVE to find ways to talk to each other, even when it seems we are on opposite sides of a chasm.

Let me explain.

I think that, if you truly want to change something – a big complicated something that requires a society-wide change – you need to change people’s hearts and minds.  Continue reading

Ebook or Paper? You Decide!

Every now and again, the ‘battle’ between ebooks and paper books rears its head again, in the columns of media outlets with slow news days on their hands.  I think, as I have always thought, that it’s kind of silly, so I wrote a silly thing in response.  If silly is your jam, I think you’ll enjoy it.  🙂

Ladieeees and Gentledudes!  It’s here!  What you’ve all been waiting for!

The stoush of the century, the showdown to beat all showdowns, the take-no-prisoners death match of all time!

In the red corner, we have the champion, the old faithful, the never-beaten, bastion of taste and quality, the protector of all that is good in storytelling, the… PRINT BOOK!

And in the blue corner, the upstart challenger, the take-on-all-comers, cheap and cheerful bringer of the apocalypse the… E-BOOK!

It’s going to be an epic battle, one for the ages, so settle in and…

“Excuse me…”

The man with the microphone halted abruptly, startled into silence by a tug on his sleeve.  He wouldn’t normally have been put off his stride by a trifle, but this was no normal tug.  The hand on his sleeve was made of words.  Or, more accurately, one word.  The word ‘hand’, swelled in some places and twisted in others to make a workable finger and opposable thumb.  It was supported by the word ‘arm’, elongated to cover the distance between him and the screen of the e-reader in the blue corner.

He rubbed his eyes, but the hand didn’t go away.  Then he heard the voice again.

“I think you might be misrepresenting our relationship.”

There could be no mistake.  The voice was coming from the e-reader.

Continue reading