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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dress Up Blues

I have been invited to a wedding and I’m quite looking forward to going. But (and there is always a but) I have to buy a new outfit. It was fortunate that a couple of weeks ago I bought a new pair of black shoes, as yet unworn, which solves the shoe problem, however it means that any dress I buy must go with black shoes.

There is a bigger problem. I really need a new body in order to shop for a new outfit. I am very unhappy with the body I have. The body I now inhabit has far too many lumps and bumps that simply weren’t there 30 years ago. There are too many flabby bits and too many bits that just won’t sit properly.

Now I know I’m not overweight. I’m actually just below that line of being overweight. I’m still barely in the healthy zone, but I’m reasonably comfortable with that. Until I went shopping today, then the realisation hit me. I might not be overweight, but I’ve reached that age where one gets saggy bits and flabby bits and they all look so wrong!

Yes, I admit it; I’m having problems with aging gracefully.

I would love to be as wealthy as Madonna and be able to afford personal trainers and the time to exercise. But I have to work full time and I have to be a mother and I’ve chosen to study part time and do some volunteer work so I can’t possibly fit in the hours of exercise each day that I need to get the body I want! What to do?

I was so disillusioned while trying on dresses I nearly cried.

I can’t believe clothes can make me feel so bad. But they do. The dresses I liked either didn’t fit or looked awful. The dresses that fit made me look like a 70 year old granny.

I envy those women who, despite what their bodies look like, can step out in any sort of fashion, strut their stuff, flash their femininity and look fabulous. I have seen some overweight women who just have the “wow” factor and when they dress up are drop dead gorgeous. But I’m not like that.

I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with this. I should really sit myself down and give myself a stern lecture. But I won’t. Instead I might try to fit some exercise in and see if it makes a difference in a week. Then I might try some different stores, perhaps some boutiques. I do have to watch the finances, but for a special occasion I can splash out a bit.

I just want to look good – is that so bad???

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I hate school!

Years ago I thought I had finished with school forever. I was 17 and the world lay in front of me, full of wonderful adventures, exciting experiences and NO MORE SCHOOL!

But wait. Thirty two years later and once again I am brought to the realisation that I still hate school.

My youngest will start his last year of school next week. Over the break between last year and this year – which went from the end of October until now – he was given some holiday homework to do. Instead of listening to the wise words of his mother and doing the homework at the beginning of the holidays, he has left it all to the last minute, which means I will spend the next few days screaming at him to do his homework, instead of the things he enjoys doing like watching television, chatting to his friends on facebook or playing his guitar.

Why scream you ask? Because I’m so frustrated and angry and feel so helpless about the whole situation. To me the easiest thing in the world would be to sit down and get the homework done. But I might as well try to wring blood out of a stone.

Why on earth would a school give students holiday homework? Is it purely to torment their parents?

I am incredibly happy that this is the last year I will have a child at school. After this year it is up to him to decide what to do with his life and, if he chooses to continue studying, which I doubt, it will be up to him to do it all himself. It’s my job as a parent to see him through to the end of high school. But although I will support him in whatever his choice is at the end of school, it will be up to him to do the work. No more screaming.

The thing is I also remember what I was like at school. I was pretty much just like he is now. I didn’t want to study, I didn’t want to do the work and I was plain lazy. But I was also gifted and able to pass exams if I crammed the night before. Back then only exam results counted. Now all the work you do (or don’t do) throughout the year also counts to your final mark.

I don’t mind if he goes to University or not. It really doesn’t worry me. Neither of his brothers went to University. I simply want him to finish his last year of school with a high enough grade that he has the option to go to University if he wants to. I didn’t go to University after school. In fact I was 37 before I did my first University degree and I’m now working on the second. But nowadays I study because I want to and not because I have to. There’s a huge difference.

So I now have nine awful months in front of me. Nine months of asking him to study, begging him to study, trying to make him study and probably screaming at him to get the work done. Much as I disliked being pregnant, it was a better option to occupy nine months than what lies ahead of me!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Always thinking...

I recently found this quote, which sums up my childhood feelings of food. "What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?" Lin Yutang

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Food, glorious food!

I’ve just been reading a few of the food blogs, which have not only made me hungry, but also made me think of food and recipes and cooking.

I was born just outside of New York City and we lived in various places throughout New York State until I was 10. My mother’s family were Russian and my father’s German, so I grew up on plenty of European food. My mother’s borscht and piroshky were to die for, but she wasn’t a fabulous cook on the whole. Neither was my grandmother. They both tried, but it just wasn’t in them. I remember my mother enlisting my help to try new recipes, especially from her Betty Crocker cookbook that I still have today. There were many failures, but we did have a few good laughs along the way. Cooking with my mother gave me some good memories.

However, the years up to age 10 are filled with memories of American food. The hotdogs with relish and mustard, somemores and sloppy joes to name a few of my favourites. I’ve tried to recreate them here, but they just don’t taste the same.

When I was 10 we migrated to Australia. It was the saddest time of my life. I cried for nearly six months.

We ate much the same food as my mother had cooked in the States. Australian food relied mostly on barbeques with sausages and hamburgers and steaks. There were meat pies of course and sausage rolls and I discovered that many Australian women, especially those in the country, did a lot of baking. My mother invested in new cookbooks and we tried more recipes and had more failures, with some pleasant surprises as well.

Food in Australia has certainly come a long way since those years. So many people from so many different cultures have migrated here and brought their recipes with them; first the Italian and Greeks, then the Asians, now the Indians and Africans. In Melbourne where I live, you can find food from around the world. It’s like a small part of culinary heaven.

I often try to cook from different cultures. My boys have grown up eating stir fry, tacos, curries, risotto, pasta and whatever else I feel like cooking at the time. I get bored easily with the same meal all the time and I like to experiment. My two eldest boys can cook well enough to survive on their own and this year I have plans to teach my youngest to do the same. I’ve always thought it’s as important for boys to learn to cook as it is for girls. With my eldest having just moved out of home, I hope he uses his cooking skills instead of relying on fast food!

Now I have to think of what to cook for dinner tonight!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Always thinking...

"The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castenada

Saturday, January 23, 2010

You Can Heal Your Life

I’ve started to re read “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise L Hay. I read it a few years ago and have been using her affirmations on and off as I need them. I definitely needed them the other day.

Last Monday night I suddenly got a very strong headache based over my right eye. My eye was more watery than normal and hurt. I have a blocked tear duct in that eye, so I’m used to it watering, but this was like a thin stream down my cheek. I went to bed and hoped it would go away the next day. Well, the next day it was worse. I had conjunctivitis in my right eye. Pus was everywhere and it itched. I wear contact lenses, so getting any sort of eye infections is not good. Then I remembered the affirmations in “You Can Heal Your Life”.

Some of you might not believe me, but Hay’s affirmations have helped me in the past. I found the one for conjunctivitis and repeated it over and over and over again. I said it to myself. I sang it to myself. When my boys got too loud I shouted it to myself which caused great amusement. Whatever I did that day, I made sure that all I was thinking of was that particular affirmation. It worked.

By the time I woke up on Wednesday morning my eye was fine. There was no more pus and it wasn’t as watery as it had been. It was a little bit redder than the other eye, but didn’t itch any more. I was cured!

On Wednesday afternoon I remembered I had a dentist appointment the following day. I am petrified of dentists. Thirty years ago, after a major motorbike accident, I had to have a bridge put in. It took weeks of pain and I never want to go through that again. So every time I see a dentist I am scared they are going to tell me it has to be redone. I was also reasonably sure I would have to have a couple of fillings.

I thought of how the affirmations had worked for my eye and decided to try them for my teeth. I found the one for teeth problems and started repeating it over and over. I even fell asleep that night repeating it to myself.

The next day the dentist cleared me for any fillings and my bridge was fine. I have some gum problems, but they can be cured. I was so happy!

The more I read about how our minds work, the more I’m convinced we have the power to change our lives using our thoughts. Negative thoughts bring on negativity; positive thoughts can only change our lives to be even more wonderful than they are now. I highly recommend this book to everyone who might want to change or heal their lives.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Always thinking...

Affirmations are wonderful things! The more positively you think, the more positive your life becomes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The first one flies the nest

I haven’t posted anything lately because I’ve been busy helping my eldest son get himself organised to move out.

He is 21 and has spent the three years since leaving school in a variety of jobs before travelling to Europe late last year. He has finally decided what he wants to do with his life – which is working with horses and travelling. Consequently he has enrolled in a course about an hour and a half away from home. He will board at the college so I’ve been busy helping him get the bedding, kitchenware, etc that he will need.

It’s an interesting experience helping one of your children to move out of the nest. I am quite excited that he will be independent and starting out on his own journey. I will miss him greatly. He is the only one of the three who really talks to me. But he is ready to leave and eager to start out on his own.

His preparations to leave have also created a sense for me that there is another life out there for me. My youngest is 17 and in his last year of school. He tells me he is moving out as soon as he finishes school. His brothers both laugh because they said exactly the same thing and are still here. But you never know. My middle son would move out in a flash if he could afford it. It won’t be long before I’m on my own.

It has been years since I’ve been on my own with no one else to look after or be responsible for. I’m kind of looking forward to it. I recently had a few weeks on my own when the boys went to their father’s and I loved the fact that I didn’t have to cook every day or clean. I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted and, being on my own, didn’t make enough mess to warrant cleaning.

Will I miss them when they all leave? Of course I will. But as I watch them branch out into their own lives I will always remember how I helped them to get there. Sometimes when they are reminiscing I hear them ask each other if they remember this or that or the other that I read to them, played with them or did with them and I smile. The lessons they learnt while growing up will stay with them forever. And I will be proud of them forever.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Always thinking...

I believe that prejudice and hatred come from fear. Why don't we just take the time to understand that which we fear?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti

The devastating earthquake in Haiti has brought home to me just how grateful I should be for who I am, where I live and what I have. The photos and vision from Port au Prince fill me with so much emotion; I often have to turn away. I send my thanks to the Universe, to God and to whatever forces there are that have allowed me to live a blessed life.

I might be a single mother who sometimes struggles financially to give what she can to her children, but I live in a country where I am free to work, free to earn money and free to choose how to spend it. I am female but I’m not oppressed, I have equal rights and I can speak my mind. I have three sons who love me and who I know would protect me if they had to.

I live in a democratic country where, although it’s not perfect, it at least attempts to give social justice and a sense of dignity to all. I live in a country where, if you really want to, you can get places. You can climb the career ladder or concentrate on your family. You can take opportunities or you can simply live life. At least, in this country we all have a choice.

I know I will get arguments from some who believe that even in a democratic society there are people who have no choice. I’m willing to acknowledge there is always the exception to the rule. But for the vast majority of people in this country, we have choices and, if we want, we can even choose to make the wrong choices. The decision is ours.

I might be a single mother, with three boys and one income, but in contrast to the people in Haiti and many many other people around the world, I have wealth beyond compare. I don’t own a home, but I live in a house that is structurally sound and in an area not prone to earthquakes, floods or fire. I have access to electricity, gas, telephone lines and the internet. We might never eat at five star restaurants, but I can afford to feed my family healthy food. We don’t shop at designer retail outlets, but I can afford to clothe my family. We don’t go out very much, but we can hire DVDs or watch television or participate in sport, or access our online friends through the Internet.

It shouldn’t take a natural disaster on a scale like the one in Haiti to remind me of how lucky I am. I should remember to be grateful every single day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Always thinking...

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence." Calvin Coolidge

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sleepless Nights

Last night was my second sleepless night in a row and today I'm definitely suffering. Not even strong coffee is helping me to stay awake at work.

We are in the middle of a heatwave. While Europe and USA are attempting to dig themselves out of the snow, Australia is rapidly melting under a furnace like sun. Yesterday it was 43 degrees C, roughly 109 degrees F. At midnight it was 36 degrees C, approx 96 degrees F. We have no air conditioning at home, but we do have fans. However at around 9pm last night we had a power outage.

Now, blackouts don't normally drive me crazy, but we were the only house in our area to blackout. Yes, I did check the fuse box. Yes, I did walk up and down the two streets around us and all the other houses looked quite cheerful with their lights blaring, TVs going and air conditioners cooling. Our house was the only house that was shrouded in a hot dark blanket.

I didn't bother to call the power company as our phone doesn't work without electricity and the last time I used my mobile to call them it cost me $35 for one call! I checked the power outages on the internet and found it was going to take until 3am to get the power back on. I took my make up off by candle light (even the candle's flame was too hot) and went to bed.

There was no way I could sleep. The heat was too intense. At midnight I got up and had a cold shower. At 2am the power came back on and I think I managed to nod off around 3am. At 5am my alarm went off.

My work day has been one major struggle to stay awake. I don't think I've been very productive although, impossible as it may seem I have managed to get things done. The weather is meant to cool down soon so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can get a good nights sleep!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Always thinking...

Why are weekends so short when we have to pack so much into them?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Packing dilemmas

This weekend I will be visiting a friend of mine who lives in a country
town not too far away. I'm quite looking forward to seeing her again as
its been awhile. However, my problem is and always will be packing!

I can never make up my mind what clothes to take with me whenever I go
away from home. The number of "just in case" items grows and grows until
it becomes a small mountain on my bed. Not to mention the shoes. What if
we decide to go out to dinner or a club? What if we decide to go walking
or venture on some other form of exercise? What if the weather suddenly
gets colder/hotter? What if I somehow get food/mud/dirt on my clothes
and have to change? My list of "just in case" scenarios is endless.

And my pile of "just in case" things grows with each scenario. Will I
wear this jewellery with that outfit, or that jewellery with this
outfit? Can I make one necklace do for all? And shoes! No, I did say not
to mention shoes. But might I just say that I don't seem to have one
pair of shoes that will go with every outfit!!!

Then there's the dilemma of pyjamas. Do I take my new ones that might be
a bit warm for a very hot weekend. As in temperature hot - it will be
sweltering this weekend. Or do I take my cooler, older ones that haven't
quite lost their respectability but are definitely not at their best. Of
course if its just my friend there the older ones will do. But what if
her daughter and son turn up or decide to stay the weekend too?

Of course I had to pack everything last night and this morning before I
left for work, which gave me little time to dither over my decisions. On
my way to work I realised just how many things I've forgotten to pack.
The jewellery I mentioned - well, I shouldn't have spent so much time
making that decision because I forgot it! And I forgot some of my
toiletries. I just hope there are some stores open when I get there.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Always thinking...

Instead of constantly moving one step forward and two steps back, I must explore sideways movement, or diagonal, or upwards. Surely any move that isn't backward would be a good thing?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who Moved My Cheese?

It usually happens that the Universe throws me things just when they are needed. Sort of like a spiritual lifeline I guess. Sometimes it might be that I meet a person with the skills or experience I require, sometimes it might be that I find an advertisement for what I need at the time, right now it’s a book.

I first read "Who Moved My Cheese" by Dr Spencer Johnson a few years ago when a friend of mine bought it. The book itself is not very long and only took me an hour or so to get through. Last week, for some unknown reason, I had the urge to read it again. So off I went to our local library.

I sat down and read it again last night. If you haven't read this book I can highly recommend it. The story is simple. It follows two mice and two very small humans as they deal with a major change in their lives. By the end of the story the reader can usually figure out just which one of the four characters they relate to.

It was an apt time for me to reread this book as we are going through various changes at work. The story reminded me that change isn't always bad; it's how we deal with it that matters. Sometimes change can actually be a good thing. What we all need to do is to constantly be on the look out for change, so it doesn't sidle up silently beside you and scare the living daylights out of you! We also need to be flexible enough to give change a chance. Get out of our comfort zones now and again and flex our outlooks on life.

I'm planning on rereading the book again before I return it to the library. Then I'm planning on putting into practice the lessons I've learnt. I'm beginning to look forward to whatever change and new challenges are ahead.

Always thinking...

If only I could stop enjoying food for a time, dieting would be so much easier!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pimples

Why am I still getting pimples at 49 years of age? These unwelcome skin eruptions were meant to cease and desist once I stopped being a teenager and turned into an adult. I forgave them for not disappearing the night I turned 21, but to continue on their merry way for another 28 years with no end in sight? Please!

OK, so I’m not covered in red and white lumps of unattractiveness as I was in my teens. But I do suffer from the one or two reddened bumps that often irresistible to scratch and push and squeeze until I have quite disfigured myself.

After many failed attempts with different products, I’ve discovered that tea tree oil works wonders on these ugly critters. Dabbing it on at night and often they vanish without any further treatment. Sometimes, the more resistant of them requires a few more dabs.

But I shouldn’t have to dab! Or push or squeeze or even look at these awful spots. I am nearly half a century old and I deserve not to have pimples!

Always thinking...

What is my purpose in life? What do I have to accomplish successfully so that when I die, I will leave in peace and contentment?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sex and the City girl friends

I used to have the equivalent of Carrie’s Sex and the City girlfriends, except there were three of us altogether and we didn’t try to have sex with every man we met. But we did go out to bars and clubs and restaurants and movies together. We spent the better part of the week in each other’s company. We had all gone to school together and we stayed friends after school and through our 20s.

We are still friends now, but we live in different parts of the country, which makes it difficult to continue our pattern of going out together! Although the times we do manage to get together we have a fantastic time. We always seem to pick up exactly where we left off.

I’ve made other friends, both single and married, who enjoy having “girl’s nights out”, but over the years they too have moved to different parts of the state or country.

I miss my girlfriends. The girls I know now are lovely, but not the sort who enjoy going out very much. And they rarely go out without their partners, which makes “girl’s nights out” kind of non existent.

I think I could be quite happily single if I had a bunch of girl friends that enjoyed going out to coffee, drinks, dinner, movies, dancing or whatever took our fancy at the time. It’s the socialising I miss. There’s just nothing quite like going out with the girls!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Always thinking...

Why is it that, as soon as I gain the self-confidence to talk to strange men in bars, I lose the desire to go to bars?

Does where you live influence who you are?

I am a city girl. Despite long bouts of living in the country, I am a city girl through and through. I like tall buildings, traffic, noise and most of all; I like to be around lots of people.

I do have some wonderful childhood memories of living in the country in upstate New York. Memories of capturing tadpoles in creeks, popping tar bubbles on the sides of hot summer roads and screaming with delight on the back of a snowmobile as it careened down a snowy slope. But childhood is different.

As an adult, forced by my husband’s work transfer, I lived in the country for around ten years. I have a few happy memories, but most of my memories revolve around nosey neighbours and a distinct lack of things to do. I had my boys to look after and my main social event was attending their playgroups or volunteering at the school canteen. If I did go out with friends, the choices we had of coffee shops, cafes or bars was limited and the same people rotated through each.

However, the worst thing about the country was a lack of privacy. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing – often before they do it! My elderly neighbour across the road would frequently comment on my night owl habits and the lady on the corner would make it a point to notice if I had been at the gym regularly or not. But the worst was when I was dating a guy and his ex girlfriend would send him text messages each time he came to see me, just to let him know that she knew where he was!

I moved to the city as soon as I could.

But, with the constraints of parenthood and the necessity of being geographically close to work, I have moved to the suburbs. They are far better than the country, but still not quite the same as the city.

People in the suburbs are more relaxed than in the city. Those looking for exercise in the suburbs walk unhurriedly through the streets with their partners or friends, often pushing babies in strollers, chatting happily as they get their daily 30 minutes of exercise. In the city, they pound the pavement with more determination, iPods in ears dictating the constant beat of their shoes. Those with babies seem oblivious to their infants being bounced rapidly over the terrain. Those with partners or friends save the chatting for later on.

People in the suburbs stay at home more, or leave restaurants earlier. They rely more on television for entertainment. In the city the cafes and bars are full to overflowing often until the early hours of the morning.

One day I will move from the suburbs to the city in search of the lights that never dim and the life that is all around.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Always thinking...

Why is it that children will NEVER hear you when you ask them to do something, but will ALWAYS hear their mobile phones, even when they are on silent and in another room?

Face it

The other day I went to buy makeup – foundation to be exact. It was perhaps something I shouldn’t have contemplated as I was shopping with my 21 year old son at the time, but I got the urge to test some of the new mineral makeup available, so into the pharmacy I went.

The array of mineral makeup was slightly overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start. It took a few minutes, but eventually a saleswoman came up to help me. She proceeded to test different brands and shades on my face and jaw line. I felt a bit like an irregular patchwork painting. All this while my son was waiting…

The brand I wanted to buy didn’t have the correct shade for my skin. The expensive brand had the correct shade – of course. However, when I tried the mineral makeup I noticed one giant fault. It didn’t really cover my open pores.

So I ended up getting the same liquid makeup I’ve always had. Whether it really is better, or whether I just perceive it to be better, I don’t know. What I do know is I’m comfortable with it.

I find I’m slowly coming full circle in my life. As a child I never wore makeup. As a teenager I wore makeup if I was going out with my friends, or on a date or somewhere special. As a young woman I never left the house without my “face” on. As a mother of babies and young children it was lucky if I had time to take a shower and get dressed, let alone finding any makeup to put on. As a woman who returned to work I again never left the house without my “face”. Now that I am middle aged I again have the confidence (or maybe the indifference) to only wear makeup if I go to work or out somewhere special. Maybe I will eventually not wear it again?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Always thinking...

Why is it that, even with no physical break between days, we still feel refreshed and renewed at the beginning of the new year?

January 1, 2010

It seems slightly surreal that six years have now gone by since I was unceremoniously dumped by the man I thought was my soul mate. In retrospect he did me a great service. Since that day I have grown emotionally and spiritually. And this year I reach a milestone – I will be turning 50! How amazing is that?

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, too often I set myself high expectations and then disappoint myself when I don’t meet them. It doesn’t do much for the self esteem.

I do however have a “bucket list”. It’s a living list. I make additions and subtractions as I go. At the moment it includes:

1) Learning to salsa dance
2) Learning a language
3) Writing something every day, no matter how small it may be
4) Travel somewhere that I haven’t already been
5) Make new friends

I have wanted to learn to salsa for a few years now. I am hampered by my shyness and certain budgetary restrictions. My friends would no doubt be surprised that I consider myself to be shy! But I am. I might put on a good front when I have no other choice, but I have become quite good at avoiding situations that require any sort of boldness. When cornered into an unavoidable circumstance, I call upon every acting skill I can think of and bluff my way through, mentally collapsing in a heap when it is all over!

My reasons for learning a language are twofold. Firstly I just want to be able to communicate in something other than English. Secondly, both my mother and my grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s and I’m constantly on my guard against that insidious disease. I’ve heard that one of the best ways to keep your brain active is to learn a new language.

Writing has always been a passion of mine, however it is a passion that I have to learn to discipline and practise and utilise, instead of just scribbling and forgetting. It doesn’t matter what I write, so long as I do.

If I were to list every destination I would like to visit, my list would be far longer than it is! I want to travel to Africa and South America and the Caribbean. I want to explore parts of Australia and USA I haven’t been to. I want to experience life in different countries, meet new people, learn new customs and, best of all, eat new foods!

I’ve never found it easy to make friends, so that’s definitely on my bucket list. How to do it is another matter!

I don’t have New Year’s resolutions, but I do have personal pledges that are ongoing. I pledge to:

1) Always be there for my children, no matter what
2) Keep within a healthy weight range
3) Eat healthy food and a balanced diet most of the time
4) Try to stay positive at all times, even when challenged

None of my four personal pledges are particularly easy to keep to. That in itself will be a challenge. But I’m up for challenges – they make life interesting.

We can hope that the New Year brings us all we desire, or we can go out there and grab our desires with both hands. We can sit back and wait for life to unfold before us, or we can be proactive and live it.

2010 is waiting for us. Let us not disappoint!

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