And With That, We Come to an End..

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This year has been a funny sort of year.  I’ve spoken to many people who are glad to see the back of 2013.  Some of them have had a difficult year, some have had a terrible year and they are hoping for something better in 2014.  Then there are others who’ve had a wonderful year, fallen in love, gotten engaged and married and those who have welcomed new life into the world.

For me, it’s not been a terrible year but it hasn’t been fantastic either and it is with mixed feelings I see it coming to a close and I am definitely looking forward to what the new year may bring.

It started out as a year full of promise for me.  Work wise, I had a challenging new boss but I decided to start the year as I meant to go on, open to all things new and determined to make the best of it.  My first day back after my holidays I was blindsided by someone I thought of as a close colleague, a friend even, and things went to hell in a hand basket after that.  But I managed to find another job, a promotion but much longer hours and travel and this has taken some adjustment in my little family, who I love so much.

Love wise, well nothing as usual.  People say never say never but I look back over every year of bad dates and disappointments and I just have to say well maybe it’s not for me.

But with this up and down, not so great but not truly awful year, I’ve definitely learned a few things:

I’ve learned that often people will let you down and that this is their burden to bear, not yours.  I’ve learned that 14 is the terrible twos of the teenage years and that you just have ride the storm.  I’ve learned that some people just will not let go and the unfairness of it all is not a pill which cures the relentless pursuit of that person’s anger, no matter how much you shout about it.  I’ve learned that my relationship with my mother isn’t as good as I thought it was and that is due to complacency on both of our parts and an ease with which we (as adult children) can slip back into the roles of our childhoods.  I’ve learned that if you make an effort and truly put yourself out there for another person, it can help make their day a little better and that is a good thing for all concerned.  I’ve learned that I am not very good at dating and that I set up so many barriers from the moment I meet someone that it is doomed to fail from the start.  I guess this way I can never been really hurt again.  I’ve learned that despite the fact I consider myself a social being, I spend a lot of time on my own, which is of my own making and that I wish it wasn’t so.  I’ve learned that the older I get, the more fearful I’ve become and this is not good for me.  I’ve learned that comfort food is no comfort at all and that in the end it’s only discomfort it brings.  I’ve learned that it really does feel great to move and eat well and look after my body.  I also learned, due to some old photographs unearthed in my mother’s home, that I never was the grossly overweight, unattractive woman I was convinced I must be and that I was in fact, a lovely, very normal looking (even slim) young woman who wasted years trying to contort herself into the image being projected onto her.  I also learned that sometimes I am the crap friend, a hard admission to make but it is the truth.

There are so many other things I learned including that despite my desire to be otherwise, I am not a naturally talented writer and I have to actually work quite a bit harder than I do if I wish to make something, anything, out of this hobby of mine which I love.  And with that lesson I have decided to close down this blog which never really took off, not least of all due to my lack of concerted effort, and concentrate on another writing project.

I hope that regular readers.. I know you’re out there… will take a moment to reflect on any lessons learned this year and share them here.  I would really love to read what you have to say.

Thanks for reading… see you in 2014.

Best,

Alice

 

Giving Up on Love..

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I haven’t blogged for a while so it’s interesting (at least to me) that the first post I’ve written for some time, about giving up on love, directly follows the post I wrote about dating again.  Which I’ve given up on.  Again.

When I was younger I believed there was someone for everyone and that eventually you would meet that someone.  Which I did.  Then we got married and it changed very quickly afterwards and it turned out that someone wasn’t my one after all.  After the sadness started to ebb away and I got a bit excited about being single again I hit the dating scene and I eventually realised that for me, it just wasn’t going to work.  I’ve been out on too many dates to count here (although keep your eyes peeled for my new book about this very subject… due out just as soon as I finish writing it) and I’ve met at least one man that I liked very much but that is all.  There really hasn’t been anyone else.  That’s one hell of a dry spell my friends!

Recently I started listening to Dan Savage, an eye opening, jaw dropping experience if every there was one.  Most of what he talks about I have to Google to find out what it means, but I’ve come to share one of his views.   That whilst there is probably more than one someone for everyone (there has to be right?  I mean what if your person was born on the other side of the world and neither of you ever travel..hardly anyone would ever meet up), there are some people for whom the single life is the life they are going to lead.  This is the life I’m pretty sure I am going to lead and this is okay.  Admittedly, I do miss sex.  I miss it a lot, a really, really lot.  You know how they say that women in their 40’s are in their prime?  I believe this to be absolutely true so it’s extra difficult to go without (at least in the traditional sense) but I know myself well enough to know that I can’t just bonk and say bye-bye.  So there will be no one nighters for me, because even in my fantasies the guy stays over and we have brunch and hit the local bookshops the next morning.

People (mostly women) are always telling me “get out there”, “never give up”, “you’ll meet someone” and that has been going on for a very long time.  But I don’t think I will meet someone.  I think I was lucky enough to experience at least once in my life time, really deeply loving someone and having children with that someone and even though that love didn’t last, I’m glad I had it.

So I accept that for me, it’s just going to be me.  But I have two wonderful children who I love more than anything. I  have friends for whom I feel a deep love and so there’s plenty of love in my life.   I’ve decided I would rather nurture what I have instead of pining for something that will almost certainly never happen.

Green Smoothie Adventure

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So I’ve been hearing a lot about this whole green smoothie thing.  I thought I’d jump on board!  A few weeks ago, when I was enduring my second bout of flu in less than two months I saw an ad for green smoothies on one of those informercial channels.  I was intrigued.  Not by their piece of junk product but by a way of getting a big bunch of vegetables in to me and the kids without the nightly round of moaning and negotiations about just how many pieces of broccoli people were prepared to eat.

I did some searching over the internet for the best product to use.  Everything was pretty expensive, and lots of reviews of run of the mill products weren’t great.  But then I stumbled across Froothie.  They have a great blender, the Optimum 9200 which is expensive but well priced compared to some of the others.  And so I began!

So far we’ve just messed about with different milk based smoothies although the other night I made delicious kiwi and strawberry smoothie mixed with fresh coconut water.  Unfortunately, both my children had a reaction to the kiwi so I won’t be making that one again in a hurry. At least not for the kids.  All of the others have been very yummy though and I’ve noticed a small glass after dinner has cut my sugar cravings down significantly.

Today, I ventured into the green realm of smoothie making.  The Wellness Warrior website has a great e-recipe book for free which has all you need to know in it.  My friend warned me to take it slow so today I made the following:

Green Smoothie First Try:

Fresh coconut water (be careful not to sever your hand when trying to chop into these)

Palm sized bunch of kale

Banana – two small

1 Teaspoon of spirulina

Squirt of lime juice

Whiz on high for a minute or two

Well, it wasn’t completely undrinkable and I think the banana and lime cut the grassy taste down but it was still there.  I drank it down anyway because I want to get used to having them and to see if there really are the health benefits claimed.  I think the spirulina made it a very dark green colour which isn’t terribly appetising but I feel I can get used to it.

Hopefully as time goes by I can incorporate more veggies which can only be a good thing.  Tomorrow I’m going to try oranges and kale because I used to drink fresh orange juice with wheat grass and although it is an acquired taste, eventually it’s quite palatable.

Anyway, I’m really keen to share what I’m doing with this and hopefully it won’t bore you to death. I promise I’ll write about other things as well.  But if you have a great green smoothie recipe, I would love for you to share it here.

What are your favourite smoothie ingredients?

The Wardrobe of a Middle Aged Woman

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In the brilliant Postcards from the Edge, written by the talented Carrie Fisher, there is a scene where Shirley McLaine claims to be middle aged.  “Oh yeah”, scoffs Meryl Streep who is playing her daughter.  “How many 120 year old women do you know?”  This scene has been playing in my head a lot lately as I have to admit that at age 44, I have reached middle age.  Big sigh.  I’ve never really had a problem with getting older.  I feel that with each year that I’m still here, that’s a bonus.  But I find negotiating the peaks and crevices (and I’m not just talking about my face – boom-tish!) of getting older to be somewhat precarious.  Especially when it comes to dressing.

I have a tween and a teen and I don’t want to be like be like Demi Moore, spotted out and about with her teenaged daughter wearing exactly the same outfit.  Fitted pencil dress, impossibly high platform stillettos and straighty straight straight hair.  Shudder.  Although obviously I would like to be as thin and rich as Ms Moore, just without all the issues which go with.  Basically I just want to look as I still feel.  Vibrant, outgoing, life loving and ready for at least another lifetime if not more.

But sometimes I get tired.  And there’s a mortgage to pay and apparently, the bank doesn’t look too kindly on skipping payments in order to fund an ongoing botox regime.  Also, a lot of the time I can’t be bothered going for a run and during these long winter months, carbs seem to be more friendly than any other food option.  So you can imagine, what I see in the mirror doesn’t quite reflect what I see in my minds eye.  So I’ve started to wear the same sort of thing to work each day.  A lot of this is black, I cannot tell a lie.  And I feel like I jazz it up (my mother’s phrase) with a well placed scarf.  I have rather a few, really gorgeous scarves of varying shades and patterns so I just throw them about my neck, whack on a pair of fabulous earrings then away I go.

But the other day I noticed something.  I am not the only 40 something who does this.

Recently, when in a meeting and consumed with boredom, I took the chance to indulge myself in a bit of people watching amongst the others in the room.  It’s harder to do this in a meeting space because often, other equally bored people are doing the same and you can get caught.  But it’s a small price to pay.

I took stock of the fact that everyone in the room was a woman and the majority were women of about 40 and above, myself included.  And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM HAD A SCARF ON!  Varying colours, embellishments, lengths etc but it was clear to me that each and every one of them had put their outfits on that morning (all beige or all black) and then finished it with a scarf.

IS THIS THE WARDROBE OF EVERY MIDDLE AGED WOMAN?? Sorry.  I realize I am shouting but here I was thinking I was being a bit creative, but apparently, this is just a part of being middle aged.

What am I going to do?  Do I stop wearing scarves?  Do I take out a loan and completely re-stock my wardrobe?  Do I dye my hair platinum blonde in an effort to stand out amongst the sea of varying shades of “home colour kit” brunettes* to “can’t be arsed to dye it” greys?  Or do I snap the hell out of it and remind myself that I am a role model to my two young daughters and there are more important things to be focusing on than the fact that I look (and dress) my age?

Thoughts?

*I fall into this category.. partial to “Iced Chocolate”..

There’s Always One..

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A decent proportion of my job entails going to various workshops, conferences, forums and so on.  I variously suffer through willing myself not to nod off to being actively engaged and not wanting it to end.  The people I encounter are usually big on social justice so we are fairly like minded and mostly I find meeting these new people interesting.

But as sure as there will be a small dish of Mentos on every table, there is always one person in the audience who tries to take the lead in these events.  Always one (sometimes more, depending on the size of the event) who has to try and focus on their own agenda or who thinks they know more than the presenter or who is just big pain in the backside.

Today was no different.  Off I went to yet another local club (sometimes RSL, sometimes Diggers – I think these mean the same thing).  I headed into the conference room and took my place.  For reasons which I can’t explain, the attendees at this forum were an unfriendly lot but there was coffee so I found myself in a forgiving mood.  Not for long.

I sat through a spectacularly dull presentation, deeply statistical and boring as batshit.  The presenter read from a bunch of papers which were exact copies of the information laden and soporific powerpoint slides that were showing.  When the second presenter got up and started discussing data and how this could be used in our industry, one woman got up on her high horse and that was the end of the structured presentation.  Now, a skilled facilitator can reign these pains in the posterior in with a well-worded rebuttal so things can swiftly move forward.  Alas, this mornings presenter possessed no such skill.  The woman in question, the “one” if you will, banged on and on and on about things which both could not be impacted upon and could not be changed in this forum and yet she went for it anyway.  I slid down in my chair and prayed for mercy.

Finally we broke for morning tea and I was briefly soothed by coffee and a piece of cake with a pleasant, although unidentifiable flavour.  The minute we got back she started in again, brought a few cronies along with her for the ride and the entire timetable got blown out by an hour.  At 12.25pm the facilitator announced we would be stopping for lunch in five minutes time.  This seemed to spur the “one” on and it was another 30 minutes before we finally ground to a halt.

Popping Mentos at a rate of knots just to stop myself shouting “Oh for Christ’s sake will you be quiet!”, the whole experience was really rather painful.

There should be some sort of “one strike and you’re out” situation where anyone who goes on for too long, or who purports to be cleverer than everyone else in the room is red carded and escorted from the premises.  It certainly would make for a more time efficient and pleasant experience for everyone.  Well me anyway…

Tooth-Hurty

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Like the vast majority of the population, I hate going to the dentist.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.  My mother, ever diligent, regularly took us to the dentist throughout our childhoods and I dreaded it every time.  Because as I was lowered backwards in the chair, by a man whose questionable breath was a testament to his own lack of dental hygiene, I always knew what was coming.  He would poke around in my mouth with one of those awful pointy tools and inevitably call out at least one filling which needed to be done.  I cried every time.

You would have thought that regular dentist visits would mitigate the need for ever more fillings but it seems that genetics, a lack of fluoride in the water and yes, I’ll say it, my fairly strong attraction to sweet, sweet sugar has meant that whatever dentist I happen to be going to, can be well assured of being able to cover the first class fare for a European holiday that year.

After I left home I avoided the dentist for a long time.  It felt like freedom.  Until of course, that awful tooth aching feeling emerged and I knew I had no choice but to go.  Nightmare.  When I scraped up enough money to travel to England in my early 20’s, I used the local dental hospitals when things got too painful and when I landed a temp job which had a dental plan attached to it, I used that for a while too because it only cost me 25 quid a visit and the dentist didn’t scrimp on the lidocaine.  I digress but has anyone ever said an injection didn’t hurt because of that useless numbing gel they put on your gum first?  I highly doubt it.

Anyway, last week I bit into something and felt one of my back teeth wobble.  After gingerly feeling around with my tongue I realized one of my older fillings had broken.  That sinking feeling took over and with heavy heart, I set off to the dentist on Saturday.   I wasn’t feeling well and was hoping it would be quick patch up job but alas, it was not to be.  The dentist said it was a big filling, would have to be replaced and oh, she had some new extra strength numbing juice and did I want that?  Yes please said I.  So she proceeded to insert a very long needle into the softest part of the back of my mouth.  It didn’t “sting a bit”, it really hurt.  Then a seering pain erupted in my ear.  Tears streamed down my cheeks and I felt like an idiot (I’m supposed to be a grown up for heaven’s sake).  An idiot in pain but an idiot nonetheless.

The procedure took an hour, I had to have four injections into my gum plus additional injections directly into my inflamed tooth because the bastard nerve was exposed and I have a very low threshold for pain.  I can admit this., I see no heroics in putting up with pain.  I had epidurals when my labour pain got too bad but I can honestly say I would rather give birth to 10 pound triplets with no pain relief than to have an exposed nerve in my tooth even slightly touched.  Oh my god.

When I finally shuffled out, mouth swollen to Jolie size, I was hit with a whopping $300 fee.  Thankfully I have dental cover and this meant I only paid about half of that.  Which is still equivalent to my weekly grocery bill.  And this got me thinking, yet again of the appalling state of dental cover in this country.  The so-called lucky country where we should have a system where an essential service is accessible to all but where people wrench their own rotting teeth from their heads with pliers because they can’t afford to pay for treatment and the waiting lists at public dentists go on for years.  I am lucky.  Yes it was a huge chunk of my weekly budget and no I can’t afford to get anything else done for a month or two.  But at least I can both pay my health insurance premiums and cover the gap so that I am not writhing in pain for the next however long, chewing through pain killers which will eventually send me into kidney failure.

In this election year, I really hope something is done to make dental care accessible to all.  So that people don’t have to put up with excruciating pain and so that a person’s socio-economic status can’t be judged by decay in their mouth.  Surely, in a country as rich as Australia, being able to afford a trip to the dentist is a basic human right.

 

Something to chew on…

Born to Run (not really…)

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I’ve never been a huge fan of exercising for pleasure.  Yes, I’ve been a gym member and I’ve done the hard yards to keep my weight down (well, actually, so I could eat more cake).  I have enjoyed the odd boxing class from time to time and for a while there I followed Cindy Crawford’s exercise DVD (guess how old I am??)

Running has never been something I was interested in.  It seemed pointless to me.  I’m a fairly well endowed sort of lass so any form of exercise requires at least two sports bras (forgive me) so why would I want do something that results in some fairly serious bounce?  But then one day an email came around at work asking for participants in the Blackmores Bridge Run.  It was a 9km run for charity and I decided to go for it.  I had three months to train so I hired a treadmill and got going.  I got up at 6am every morning whilst the children were sleeping and began by walking briskly, which lead to a slow jog, which lead to fully fledged running.  On the weekends, I started doing the Bay Run, which is about 7km.  That last stretch over Iron Cove Bridge was my nemesis.  I would look down the whole way, determined not to focus on the end of the bridge which seemed so far away.  Within three months I could run the whole way.  Who had I become?

On race day I was so nervous but I strapped on my iPod and off I went.  It was quite a warm day and I struggled a bit with the quite heavy charity t-shirt I was wearing but I carried on regardless.  As I reached the half way mark I began to think I couldn’t make it.  I slowed to a walk and decided I would have to throw in the towel.  But I didn’t.  Once I made to the top of the hill I got my second wind, and inspired by the 9 year olds who were sprinting past me I started running again and ran all the way to the finish line.  9 kilometres in 1 hour and 13 minutes!  For a beginner I thought this was pretty damn good.  I was so proud of myself.  I then went home and slept for the next 6 hours straight.  It was 3 days before I could walk again without my muscles screaming and the blackened toenails stayed for weeks afterwards.  But I did it!!

I vowed to become a runner from then on but of course I didn’t, I made excuses and I slipped back into my slothful ways.

Recently however, I have become re-inspired.  I work in quite a stressful industry and a few weeks ago I left my previous job after months of bullying by a new manager.  The bullying had taken it’s toll and I have been feeling very low for a while now.  So I decided to start running again.  I’ve been reading all about the running adventures of Steph over at Mamamarmalade and this has got me all revved up and ready to go.

This week I started.  I got up at 6am and jumped on the treadmill.  I downloaded a beginner’s running app and it has a pleasant English girl urging me on which is rather a lot better than a real life personal trainer shouting at me.  I like it.

Now, I realize that these sorts of posts can be boring for some.  But stay with me dear readers, the very fact of my beginner-ness is sure to delight.. or at least bring an amused smile to one or two of you…!