Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Camping - Why and Where and What for?

The camper has been pulled from its home, dusty and cobwebby, but robust enough to stand the neglect of the past 18 months. Red dust has been ingrained in the cover, the wheel arches, the welded seams. Evidence of holidays past, adventures and getaways. Off-road tyres have a slight flat patch, need some air to plump them up. But our home away from home just needs a hose down, some spit and love and she will be ready to take us to our next memory making camping trip.

We head off on Friday, so this week we will pack the Waeco fridge, fill the water tank, load the canoe on the roof-rack, and pack camping clothes and shoes. Important things to make a place for are bottles of gin, dark chocolate, pack of canasta, my kindle plus a stack of books. The dog is going to be sadly let down when he finds out we are leaving him behind, he likes his camping too. But he won’t be sad for long, my Mum and Dad are coming to stay with him, so he will have five days of gardening and being outdoors and having treats and pats.

The destination this trip is south of Perth, about two and a half hours leisurely drive. It will be hot on Friday, but as we head south and by the coast, it should cool. We will be the first of our group to arrive, so we will set-up our camp, put out the camp chairs, cool the drinks in ice and have a cheese platter ready for when the next campers arrive. Slow and slowed down we will all be. Tension and hyper activity will be leaching from us as ice cold drinks and canvas replace deadlines and offices.

A barbecue, laughs, talking long into the darkness. We will have all decompressed by the time our beds call our names. A cool night with gentle breezes, frogs loud, the moon enough light to see by. The morning will be early, rising with the sun, it will be chilly but warming quickly. The billy is filled, water heating on the gas stove. Coffee in hand, we find our chairs and discuss how we fared in the night, what is on the agenda for today. No one moves fast, a second and third cup of coffee. Breakfast of bacon and eggs, mushroom and tomatoes. 

As we wash the breakfast dishes in a plastic bowl, we will discuss where we will go for lunch. Or dinner. This camping trip we are close to wineries and restaurants, bars and cafes. Or shall we just hang about at camp, have tuna and tomato sandwiches and read and nap. Tomorrow another of our group will arrive. They have a new camper to show us, to demonstrate the little things that make camping easy and fun. Drinks will begin at noon. Those of us who arrived early and are settled will take front row seats watching the couple with the new camper work out the routine.

Four nights and five days of living the nomad. But with luxury tents and campers and kitchens on tailgates. Laughter and lounging. Reading and reminiscing. All this will make more memories of the time we went away, to find ourselves, to find contentment. This is my idea of a holiday. Not a boarding pass in sight. 

There is still the anxiety, that peaks the night before the trip and slowly ebbs away the longer we are away. The farther we are away from home dilutes the anxiety too, which is bizarre when the norm for anxiety is to feel it when we are most out of our normal life.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

I need to be back here

I visited my blog today. I read over posts that I wrote years ago. It was a private moment between us, and I miss it dearly. When I was writing here, I felt centred, even when the days went pear shaped, there was my blog to allow me to write out the day and make sense of it all.

And then I stopped writing.

I don't know why. Life and things it threw at me got too much, I did not value the therapeutic release, I forgot why I started this blog in the first place.

But what I do know is ...

  • I need to come back here on a regular basis
  • There is much to gain from writing and sharing our thoughts and feelings
  • Without this space, I feel lost and adrift
  • It grounds me when I write here
  • It is wonderful to be able to read back over past years posts and see how I have grown.
  • I miss the blogging community
  • Blogging made me a better writer, you need to practice your art.
  • It is good for your mind to craft out a story of everyday life
This is a promise to myself. I will write one blog post a week. This is the least that I will do, if inspiration strikes, then I can always write more.

Today I will write a plan for the new months blog posts.

Now, that wasn't so hard was it?

Yours sincerely, 
me xx

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Good v Bad Knees

The world is an unfair place sometimes. 

It does not always follow that if you work hard you get rewarded, that if you are a good person then good things will happen to you, that eating well everyday will not save you from cancer, that being kind to animals will save you being eaten by a shark, smiling a lot will make you happy.

This is how I feel today, that the world sucks! Terrible way to start a blog post, sorry. 

You see, I have bad knees, really bad, I can barely walk some days and I need to lose weight, which I need good knees for. The reason I have bad knees, is that I needed to lose weight and I used my then good knees that are now bad knees.

About 6 years ago, I started running and doing long distance walking. I did this because the one hour daily walk was not enough to make me lose weight. I had to up the ante. So I started doing two hour walks, then walking home from work (17kms). I then started meeting up with my best friend and would walk the ten km bridges walk two or three times a week. Then we started to run it. I was also running every second day, five kms plus the days in between walking. Power walking, not just a stroll. 

I was still fighting the weight, doing Jenny Craig and religiously going to see my counsellor every week for a weigh in. Great, thats half a kilo lost this week. 300 grams the next week. What!!?  I put on 400 grams how can that be? Oh, yeah, I had a few G&T's. Week after week of this, in fact I did it for a whole year. Eating 1200 calories a day, week in, week out. Agonising over every calorie and feeling guilt for every indiscretion. 

To counter balance the indiscretions (and I am not talking about two pizzas and five meat pie blowouts, I am talking a few chips and a couple of drinks) I added in going to a gym for three times a week. Working one on one with a personal trainer for one full hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For months and months and thousands and thousands of dollars.

I was fit. Very fit. I was toned and had great muscles, especially in my legs. Oh the squats I could do. On a bosu board, crunches and rowing and lifting weights. She was tough my trainer, if I rang to say I was skipping a session she would say thats ok, we can pick it up 5am tomorrow morning. I very rarely missed a session. 

So, you would think with all this hard exercise, and a 1200 calorie a day diet, I would have looked Kate-Moss-amazing? Sure my skin glowed, I looked really healthy, but, and here is the but that makes me weep, but, I was still a size 16 at best. 

No matter how hard I worked at it, I was still going to be a big girl. And this breaks my heart, and I really did work very, very hard. I had to push myself sometimes way past the point of comfort. It was never something I looked forward to, it was something I had to do and quitting was not an option. It simply had to be done. The only thing I did get pleasure from was challenging myself to get better and go further, to run longer distances, and beat the day before record. I entered the city to surf fun run and completed the 12.5 kms. 

And this was the time and place my knee started to play up. It was sore towards the end of the run but I was determined to finish. And I did. The pain was not too bad, but I eased off on so many runs a week, and cut down the walking to a few times a week. I still did a few walks from my office in the city to home, but I had to slow the pace. I continued at the gym and my trainer, worked with my knee, building strength in it and trying not to aggravate the situation. But it got worse and worse and my head started to pipe up about all this intense hard work I had been doing and really, what had it got me? Damaged knees and still a fat body.

How do you come back from that?

Now, everyday both my knees are aching and painful and stiff. I can't lay on my side as my knees grind and put pressure on each other, even with a thick pillow between them. So I lie on my back, and can't sleep. Well I can, and I do, but not well. I find myself a few hours later, rolled on my side with a knee so stiff and sore it almost makes me weep.

I get up from sitting and my knees won't work properly. I hobble, like I am 100. I went out in the city the other night and had to walk a mere 300 metres, it killed me. Working in the garden is an exercise in pushing through the pain. I do it, but pay for it dearly.

Now I need new knees. An operation my Dr does not want to do until I am older. I will need to lose weight before the operation so that the recovery is better.

How do I do this without good knees? If I could not lose weight on a diet and all that exercise, how on earth will I do it with bad knees? Guess I better start liking water and ... I was going to say bread, but that's a carb ... better just be drinking water.

It's a consumer world and I want my money back, as the product did not do what it said it would do on the box.

See, told you the world was unfair!

PS: I know that there are so many others out there with problems 100 times worse than this. I know that having a pity party will not help. I just wanted to get this out of my mind so me and my knees can move forward.

PPS: The bright side is that in the event of a world disaster, I will live the longest as I have a superior metabolism.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hoarders ... my own reality TV show

In my mind, this is how my junk looks.
(In reality, it looks rather neat compared to this)

How can you still be getting stuck in life at my age?  Honestly! When will I grow up already?

When I was a kid, I always imagined a 50+ woman to be on top of it all. Her routine would be well and truly worked out. Her house would be organised and function like clockwork. Perfection would have been worked out so that everything she did was effortless.

So how can you get to my age and still have a spare bed covered in washed clothes that never quite made it to the wardrobe? How can you have a pantry that is disorganised and in need of a grand cleanout after only living in this house for six months? How can I have boxes of unknown and lost things in two rooms of my house, stacked on the veranda, stuffed in no order at all in one of my stables? Cupboards still with stuff at the old house?

I blame the fact we still have not moved properly. We still have a quarter of a house at the old place. And you know what? The stuff I still have there, if I have not missed it yet, then do I really need it? Is it really important. There are still flat packs of Ikea wardrobes on the veranda, yet to be made into three dimensions so I have storage. We still have both son's stuff stored here.

Here's your sign.

This weekend I am doing my very own hoarders makeover. I am getting a great big tarp, spreading it out on the lawn. I am getting trestle tables and a whole pile of plastic storage crates. I have labels and black markers at the ready. There is a film crew coming to record my tears and tantrums. There will be a bossy lady yelling at me 'do you really need this!'. (not really, she will be in my head only)

I will drag out every box, pile and bit of stuff from all the places I have them stashed and I will go through each and every item. I plan on getting rid of at least a third of it, so if you want stuff ... come visit me Sunday afternoon ... it will be on the verge.

I will stack all the keeping stuff into plastic boxes, label it so I can find what I want (like all our birth certificates, marriage certificates and important documents that I know are somewhere but I can't find) and store them in a neat order on shelves in the storeroom set up in one of my stables.

Only then, can I end all this chaos in my mind. I can end trying to keep tabs on my junk. It is a terrible infliction, and I don't know why we do it to ourselves. My son asked me why I get so stressed about stuff I can't see? I never thought of it like that. I just know that I have these mental tabs on where it all is and it's bugging me like hell.

Living simply, starts this weekend.

... and they all lived happily ever after ...

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Farmhouse Mentality

It may be just me, but I suspect it is not, but I always seem to have a busy, monologue going on in my head. Like counting when I am watering the pot plants "1,2, 3, ... 15, 16 ... and onto the next pot. 1,2,3 ...." That way they all get an even amount of water (is that OCD?). Or when I am loading the washing machine "OK that's one sock, there is its partner, good. Next sock, turn right way out, there is its partner, good". Picking tomatoes - "That's a good, one, and that one. That one is a bit green, must find that recipe for green tomato pickles, wonder how many tomatoes I will need, do they all need to be green, how green is too green." Vacuuming the floor - "damn dog hair, it's everywhere, I hate the floor being this grotty, what's that mark? Oh its a scratch, can't be too worried about it as there is a big gap in the floor, oh and another leaf blown in, never mind, this is a farm after all ..."

Ok, so now I am guessing this might just be me.

This raises my new mantra/voice in my head. "This is a farmhouse". Well it's not really, we are not actually living on a farm as such. It is a few acres, much larger than your suburban block, but still only 16 kms from the city centre. We do have stock - well chooks and dogs, and paddocks set up for horses, but none have come yet. (Is it really true, that if you build it, they will come?)

It is a farm house, however. It was built in the sixties, with a Metters Warren No.1 stove, a fireplace in the lounge, wide verandas and stables. So lets say it is rural in character. It has wooden floors, that are polished jarrah and divine. There are bits of board missing, and patched over, knots and holes and deep scratches - it is a floor with a robust history. And made to cater to wet pawed, border collies. And booted husbands, with cheeky grins.

Which is why I can (try to) sidestep my perfectionist tendencies and cajole myself to believe that a dirty (ish) floor is ok as this is a farmhouse. Same goes for a kitchen bench covered in zucchinis of varying sizes, tomatoes in varying colours, eggs with a little, umm, err, varying dirt on them, secateurs, and a big bunch of basil. 

The farmhouse mentality however, is having a hard time convincing my perfectionist mentality that tumbleweeds of dog hair rolling down the hallway is rustic, not revolting. That the dining room table covered in egg cartons, bags of oranges and a box of garlic is self-sufficient abundance not anarchy of order. That ash and twigs scattered around the fireplace is cosy not careless. That a laundry of piled washing (both done and to do) demonstrates a priority of time spent in the vegetable garden, which is neat and weeded and prolific.

I wonder who is going to win this mental battle - Farmhouse or Perfectionist?

I know which one I WANT to win!

Monday, June 29, 2015

In love with the idea of writing

I look up at the bookcase above my desk. Between pretty journals and my favourite novels, sit books that thrill me and drive the daydreams cluttered with words, desks, books, quiet alone time, delicious creativity. Daydreams that get  their material from Pinterest, Jane Eyre and writing classes. Some of my treasured books are:

  • Writing From Start to Finish - Kate Grenville
  • Beyond the First Draft - John Casey
  • On Writing Well - William Zinsser
  • Writing Tools  - Roy Peter Clark
  • Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
  • The Writing Book - Kate Grenville 
  • Writers on Writing - James Roberts et all
Vita Sackville-West had a whole tower of her own to write in (and plan her gardens at Sissinghurst)

These same books can also fill me with despair and despondency. They mock me and call me out as a wannabe writer. Days when the words just won't flow, are silly and pathetic, they sound forced and amateurish. These books of wisdom and encouragement just serve to highlight my shortcomings.

Who am I kidding anyway?  Pffft ... writer indeed!

My mind wanders from the daily goal of 1000 words, to blogs, to news stories, to a new email (not to facebook as I have learnt to turn that off!). Chastising myself, I reread the scene I have just written, the one I have been squeezing out of my brain for the last two hours, that little voice in my head telling me the whole time 'this is crap, whoever said you could write, you write like a six year old, silly baby words and all disjointed.' As I try and ignore this voice, I am reading my words, and I don't recognise them as my own. They sound ok, that bits funny, there is a sentence there that really works. 

Encouraged, I go back a few chapters and read some more. It's filled with spelling errors and some terrible grammar, but I like the scene I am reading, I like the character I have created. It gets me excited again.

Taking a break, I read some more of Bird by Bird, and she is writing the exact same thing I was thinking. She thinks her words are crap too, she asks herself who she is kidding being a writer. She tells me that this is all normal and common and part of what being a writer is all about. She tells me to write a 'Shitty First Draft'. To just get the words and the story out of my head. We can fix all the mechanics later.

The voice of negativity pipes up and says 'that's all well and good, but a real writer can WRITE - make beautiful words on the page, they just come to them, their shitty first draft does not look like yours ... they just have to tidy a few things up in the rewrite, not redo the whole bloody thing.'

(I know this is a kids movie, but I love the concept - )

It seems to be a universal thought - you can only call yourself a writer if you have a published and successful book. A real writer can construct perfect sentences and find words that resonate without effort. It's the people who ignore this universal thought who become the writers.

Today I offer that we can all call ourselves a writer - anyone who takes the time to put pen to paper, or finger to key, is bringing their thoughts to life - they are writing!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Can't concentrate - another symptom of anxiety.

My mind is all over the place these days, like the floor of a teenagers bedroom, it's strewn with undone tasks and discarded ideas. A symptom of anxiety, my poor brain feels like a fat kid let loose in a candy store with a bucket and the words "go grab what you want". Shiny and bright things keep grabbing my attention and I turn from each bit of bling to the next.

Today is Friday - Writing Day. 8am. I sit down to the computer to write. My mind is still not quite awake, so I get permission to read a little Facebook while I drink a coffee. I see a link to a great writing piece, or a tutorial on using Scrivener, or a link to a news story, or worse, a link to videos of naughty cats or 10 celebrities that forgot to put on makeup. Distractions galore. 

But once I get to the distraction, then 2 seconds into reading that, I am distracted again. I remember that I need to check my bank account, an email comes in, I see a previously open tab of a website that I wanted to read. I check my calendar. I look up and see all the books on my shelf that I still need to read. I decide that a load of washing needs to be put on. While I am in the laundry, I clean the toilet. Fold the towels from the dyer. Go back to the computer and recheck my emails. Check my chin for stray hairs, decide that a mirror and tweezers are needed. Make another cup of coffee. Empty the dead roses from the vase I pass. Think that I need to go pick fresh flowers ....

I chastise myself. I am meant to be writing. I convince myself that my brain needs waking up and I should do my daily brain training to kick start it. Halfway through, I get a facebook message. I check it. It's a link from a friend to her dropbox. She is on holidays. I start checking her pics and remember that I need to book flights to Sydney. I go to the booking site and an email comes in from my favourite homewares shop and they have a sale!

In under an hour, I have 15 tabs on my browser open, the washing machine on spin cycle, half a comment started on a friends blog post, two books pulled from the shelf and stacked beside my reading chair, a clean toilet, hairless chin and not one single word of writing done.

I can't blame the modern age of information overload entirely. I just can't seem to stick at any one task for more than a few seconds. I know its my anxiety that is causing this, I could not still my mind if my life depended on it right now. The notion of 'Mindfulness' is a far horizon.

Telling myself off and to "just get on with it", I reread what I have started and although I can read the words, they do not make a sentence in my mind. I get stuck on one word, while new and brighter ideas pop into my head. I scream at myself to STOP this!

And then in defeat, I sit in my reading chair with a book in my hand and just stare out the window with nothing but how tired I am on my mind. I catch myself nodding off like an old grandma dog and eventually give in to a nap on the couch.

It has taken me two hours to write this. I won't bore you with the 101 distractions I have succumbed to, not because I care, but because recounting them is a distraction in itself. 

By this afternoon, when I have written no more words to my word count and feel scattered and cast adrift in a sea of overload, I will feel so guilty and disgusted with myself that I will watch crap TV to escape that feeling.  

I want my old mind back. Anxiety sucks!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Be sure of what you Like on Facebook

Stepping into the foray of social commentary and the world of PC for a moment to make a comment and perhaps a heads-up on something I saw on my Facebook today. I did briefly think to put this as a post on Facebook but I don't want to offend anyone, nor look like I am having a go at anyone. So, being the big chicken conflict avoider and peace keeper that I am, I will make this a tale of morals for a generic audience.

You know that little LIKE button on our Facebook page? Seems like a harmless icon you click when you see something funny, or cute, or a shared POV. If it really moves you in some way, you Share the post, or even make a Comment. The latter two actions however, require a little more thought process than the quick hit of the Like button. When you make a comment, you think about the message you are portraying, how you want to say it, how it will come across. If you share the post, then you have a specific audience in mind, and weigh up if this action will give the right message. 

But, do we ever really stop to think what we are liking? How the action of Liking a post on someone elses FB page appears on our own page. What is this Liking saying about you - Your Values? Your Morals? Your Likes and even Dislikes? Your sense of humour or fairplay?

If you constantly Like cute little kittens and puppies, videos of baby pandas, miniature donkeys, Firemen rescuing fluffy ducklings, then we can assume that you are a girly girl (or boy) who is a big softie at heart.

If you Like pictures of rainbows and unicorns and fairies, then you are bit of a dreamer who puts their fate into the hands of the universe.

Inspirational quotes and sayings tell me you are determined, aspirational, a perfectionist who even on bad days sees the positive (at least strives to)

Political slurs and rants - usually a one eyed supporter of a particular party. (This goes for sports teams as well)

Funny jokes, video's cartoons - well who doesn't like a (tasteful) one of these? Except, this is where it all falls apart. One man's funny is another man's offensive. It's all too easy to like a joke or cartoon that may not be funny at all to some. 

So, why this commentary? 

Today I saw on my newsfeed a post about high profile Aussie women who had received personal and nasty tweets about their appearance. There was outrage by all the women posters, and deservedly so. 

But a few posts later, and the same person who Liked the above, also Liked a picture of our PM being compared to Gollum from Lord Of the Rings. 

Hypocrisy anyone?

I am not political, nor a feminist, I do however, have very strong beliefs in hypocrisy. If it's not good for the goose then its not good for the gander.

So these seemingly innocent Likes, allude to this person having double standards. Was this the message they wanted to put out there? Am I reading too much into this? Is Facebook just a bit of silly fun?

While I am on the quotes, maybe we should also remember this one all our Mothers taught us - "If you have nothing nice to say about a person, then don't say anything at all". Because if you do, then it says more about you as a person than it does them.

(Hang on, it's a bit hard to get down off the soapbox with my dodgy knee)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mirror mirror on the wall

Reflection and perception are funny things. 

I have this mirror in our new house. It was left behind by a tenant and it has remained there as the only bathroom mirror. Using it the first few times I was frustrated  as it is in very poor light, you can't get close enough to see the finer points and putting makeup on in here was a guess at best, not much better than doing it in the dark, at worst. 

But over the weeks we having been living here I have come to rather like the work this mirror  does. I wash my face in it, check for stray beard-hairs, put on my makeup and do my hair in its mediocre reflection. It all looks OK to me. My skin looks smooth and bright. The eye shadow  and mascara look in place. There doesn't  appear to be any moustache.

I think I actually pass as OK. Certainly presentable enough to pop down the shops, even off to work.

The full length mirror in the hallway, with great light and an honest face and the little flip down mirror in my car are singing to a different hymn book however. They think honesty is the sign of a true friendship. We are no longer friends.

I like the sweet little lies the bathroom mirror tells me. We can be friends.

Which got me wondering today. 
  • Do you still look good when you feel inside that you do? (and that your mirror is confirming this)
  • Is appearance only what you see or is it how you think you look. 
  • Who is judging this beauty contest anyway?
  • If you feel great, who cares?
  • Is this what blokes have worked out? A quick look in a bad, good or indifferent mirror gives them the false belief that 'yeah I look pretty good.' They strutt out into the world thinking they are gods gift while us women peer and scrutinise and confirm with 4 different mirrors in 3 different light conditions to convince ourselves that we really do look like we think we do.

So, for some smart, young entrepreneur, go out and develop a I-always-look-good mirror to replace all the honesty is the best policy ones. 

This also applies to my over 50 age and having to wear glasses for the small print. If I don't see the dust (or the ring on the tub, or the coffee stain on the bench) - does it still exist? Is this why older women get happier, and more relaxed?

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's the Little Things #2

Go on... you know you want to ... sing it .... 

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh
Kookaburra, gay your life must be!

These are a few of our resident Kookaburras that come to visit us each evening to roost in the big Spotted Gum by the stables. They arrive just as the last of the light is fading, laughing and calling to their family to come roost for the night. They number between two and six, and come most nights.

They leave at first light, saying goodbye with a laugh as they head off to hunt for the day. 

It makes us smile to know they like our home enough to make it theirs.

A few interesting facts about Kookaburras and the Kookaburra Song

  • They are an Australian Kingfisher
  • The song was first performed in 1934 at a Girl Guides Jamboree
  • The tune is the same as a Welsh song about a Blackbird
  • The song featured in a 2006 episode of Dr Who, Fear Her
  • The laughing kookaburra is not native to Western Australia
  • The laughing is to mark their territory
  • A girl wrote the lyrics to the song!