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Saturday, April 23, 2011

What price our children?

Over the Easter break my two youngest boys are visiting their elder brother in Western Australia. They both flew out last night and have arrived safely.

Their flights were booked several weeks ago at a time when my youngest son had just commenced his apprenticeship and would have had to return to work next Wednesday, while my middle son could stay until the following Sunday. Since then my youngest son quit his apprenticeship and therefore could have stayed longer on his holiday, except that it would have cost around $100 extra to change his flight so, being on a tight budget, we decided against changing it.

However, on Friday morning I awoke to the news that the airline he was booked to come home on had been issued a notice by Aviation Australia with regard to a series of serious safety and maintenance breaches. I deliberated with myself for several hours. I looked up flights with other airlines, airlines that had better safety records. It would cost around $200 to get him on another flight home.

In the end I booked his return flight on another airline, the cheapest I could find gave him another 5 days with his brother. Despite being a bit of a drain on our finances, there was no way I could have faced myself if I had ignored the warnings and anything had happened to him on the original airline.

The whole process got me thinking. What is the price we are willing to pay for our children? I’m not talking about heroics and laying our lives on the line because I’m sure that 99% of parents would do just that if they had to. I’m talking about the cost of living. How much do you allow yourself to spend on your children? Does the amount have any relation to your budget? Do you spend more on yourself or your children? Do you sacrifice buying things for yourself so you can spend more on your children?

I know that over the years I’ve had to work with fairly strict budgets and have often had to say “no” when it came to buying things my boys wanted. By the way, I’ve read numerous books on prosperity, most of which tell me not to tell my children I can’t afford something, as that promotes negativity. However, I’ve never quite worked out what it is I should be saying. Apparently its better to say “I’m broke” rather than “I’m poor” but just how you rephrase “we can’t afford it” without holding out hope that you might be able to afford it next week, is something I haven’t quite grasped.

There are a few things that I don’t compromise on when it comes to spending. I’ve always tried to buy good quality sports shoes for my boys. I believe it’s important to keep their feet healthy and looked after. So their running shoes and footy boots have always been the best quality and make I can afford. It’s the same with my shoes. I’d rather spend a bit more and get good quality leather shoes that will last me 1-2 years of continuous wear, rather than spend less and get shoes that hardly last six months. Another thing that I’m willing to pay a bit more on is food. I’d rather spend more on healthy, nutritious food than I would on junk. So we eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, grain or wholemeal bread, whole grain cereals and low fat milk. We don’t often have takeaway food as I’ve found it’s far less expensive to cook at home.

Where do you draw the line on spending for your children?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Are there really plenty of fish in the sea?

This is a question I’ve asked myself at various times over the years and am now asking myself again. Every time I’ve been disappointed in love, the standard response from my family, friends and casual acquaintances has been “Don’t worry, there are plenty more fish in the sea!”

But are there really plenty of men around? And, if there are and they are over 40, are they single, heterosexual and in reasonably good physical shape? Oh – and for me they really have to be around 6’4” – I’m a tall woman, I like wearing heels and I don’t like looking down on the man I’m with.

Now that I’m considering dating again, I’m beginning to wonder if there is actually anyone around to date. I’ve been forcing myself to attend more functions and I’ve noticed it is rare for men over 40 to be a) unattached, or b) in good physical condition. They just don’t seem to care about their appearance. If any single man over the age of 40 is reading this, please note that if you are fat or flabby or unkempt or unhygienic, you are definitely not desirable. I don’t care how much money you are worth or what position you have, the single more mature women I know are simply not that desperate.

Yes, I do try to keep myself looking good. I exercise regularly, my hairdresser knows me very well, I don’t usually leave the house without make up and I try to dress to impress. And yet I know there are women out there who are overweight and casual about their appearance who nevertheless can seemingly reel in the men. It puzzles me.

In the last five years I’ve probably met two or three men that interest me. However, there must be something about me that they don’t like as none of them have returned my interest or attraction. Oh, there’s been some mild flirting and a bit of conversation, but nothing ever eventuated. I often wonder what I’m doing wrong, but will probably never find out. I wish there was some sort of questionnaire that could be handed out to those who aren’t interested, just to gauge what it is I’m not doing. I’m not averse to change – but I’d like to know what it is I should consider changing?

Of course, to be honest, at 51 I’m no spring chicken, nor have I ever had flashy model looks, nor am I super skinny or in the slightest bit wealthy. I seem to enjoy things that other women my age don’t. I like rap music, RnB and jazz. I don’t like classical music or musicals, opera or country, grunge or heavy metal. I don’t particularly enjoy social functions where people compare the cost of their outfits, their jewellery or their last holiday. Actually, I’m not fond of social functions at all – they involve smiling way too much and being nice to people you would rather ignore.

Although, as a teenager, I used to frequent night clubs and bars on a regular basis, I don’t know anyone who would want to go out with me and I wouldn’t know where to go these days. I do miss listening to live music though. I hate camping, fishing or anything to do with the great outdoors, although I love the ocean. I don’t ever want to own a pet. I only enjoy shopping if I have money to spend, which isn’t often. I take pleasure in watching some sport – AFL football and basketball – and I especially like watching my boys play. I think a perfect night out would include a well cooked meal with excellent wine partnered with intellectual conversation and perhaps a bit of thoughtful argument.

So, while I will continue to keep my eye out for datable men, I’m afraid I’m not that hopeful of finding any. However, I will never say never!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Opposing Planets...

Just when I thought life was cruising along happily, one of those bumps in the road jumped in my way and nearly unseated me. My youngest son declared he was no longer interested in continuing the apprenticeship he had just begun and would instead look at studying something. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no intention of forcing any of my boys to do anything they don’t want to do career wise. Life is too short to waste it in a job or career you simply don’t like or don’t want to pursue. It’s just that with him working, he was able to help out financially and I need a lot of that right now.

I’m over the initial shock now. I’m not sure if I mentioned this in previous posts but this was the boy who never ever ever wanted to go to University or study again. And this same boy is now looking up tertiary courses. He thinks he would like to do sports coaching and I think that’s a wonderful idea. He has the experience from volunteering to coach a junior basketball team a couple of years ago. The boys loved him and he did an excellent job. So I’m sure he will be fantastic as a coach. I just wish I was as confident about him concentrating on study. Study on a tertiary level is so different to secondary, it’s more involved and more is demanded of you.

Speaking of study, I tried to get onto the University’s online pages for students last night and couldn’t even access the website. The whole system had crashed due to a power failure. As I also work at the University, I knew about the crash but thought it might have been rectified by the time I tried to access it last night. Its things like these that make you realise just how much you depend on computers.

Our home phone has also been working intermittently of late. It’s something I must rectify before my father attempts to call me again. If it weren’t for my father I probably wouldn’t have a home phone line. He doesn’t like calling mobile phones.

Yesterday I was talking to a co worker about all these little blips in my life striking at the same time. She was having similar problems and laughing blamed it on the planets. I thought she might actually have something there so I googled the latest planetary happenings and discovered that at the end of March Jupiter was in opposition to Saturn. Apparently this occurrence is something that will affect the rest of the year. According to the website I was reading, the last time it happened was in the 60s around the time of the race riots in USA and Martin Luther King’s assassination. This particular website drew the reader’s attention to the so called “Jasmine Revolution” underway in Africa and the Middle East, inferring the planetary opposition was, if not the cause, then at least part of it.

I’ve always found it interesting how the planets and moons can affect us here on earth and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this Jupiter / Saturn opposition is causing my life to be a bit bumpy at the moment. I can usually tell when there is a full moon because my mood definitely changes.

So, if you have had to ride a bumpy road lately or dodge strange happenings, you could very well blame it all on the planets. That’s exactly what I plan to do!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bring on... 51!

This is my last week of being 50 – next Sunday I turn 51. Some people might say I’ve reached the summit and it’s all down here from now on. But I like to think I’m reminiscent of the bear that climbed over the mountain – do you remember him from your childhood?

The bear climbed over the mountain,
The bear climbed over the mountain,
The bear climbed over the mountain and what do you think he saw?
He saw another mountain,
He saw another mountain,
He saw another mountain and what do you think he did?
The bear climbed over the mountain…

So here I am, about to reach the top of the mountain and getting ready to climb another one. I often wonder what the next ten or twenty or more years will bring.

Wondering about the next years made me think about goal setting. I found this quote the other day:

"The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach." Benjamin Mays

It says it all doesn’t it? If we just float through life without any aim we could very well end up in a place we never wanted to be, ending our life full of regrets. Lately I seem to be hearing so many people who are full of regrets. They might be at the same function I’m at or sitting at the next table in the cafĂ©. But I hear them moan to their friends, “if only I had travelled when I could have”, “if only I had taken that course”, “if only I had followed my heart instead of my head”, “if only I had taken a chance”.

So this week I will begin to set some goals. I already set myself small daily or weekly goals – time set aside to finish assignments, time set aside on the exercise bike, books to read, budgets to meet. But I’m ready for some big goals now. For starters I want to finish the book I started years ago and self publish it. I’ve been looking at kindle and self publishing and marketing and I believe if I can finally finish my writing I might have a chance at selling a couple of copies.

Lately I’ve wanted to own my own house. Renting has never worried me much before as it has left me free to move whenever I want to and I’ve moved around a lot. But this past year I’ve thought it would be nice to have a house where I can do what I want and not have to worry about the landlord. Perhaps I could own my house and travel a lot. That might satisfy my urge for new places and different horizons.

So, owning my own house might be my main goal for the next few years.

What goals do you have?