Monday, February 28, 2011

February's Star Calendar

It's time to get my positive energy back. I'll be needing it in the days to come. So, it's time to publish this month's Star Calendar. That's a bit of good news.

At the end of last month I set out my task. I've set myself the challenge of keeping to 1600 calories a day and doing an hour of exercise a day. I get a star if I stick to plus or minus the calories and make sure the exercise is done six days a week.

Well here is this month's star calendar:

February's toll. 26.5 stars out of 28.

Other small factoids.

I'm back in the 80s and I haven't even gone to Adelaide! So far I've lost about 8.5 kgs this year. This morning's weight - 89.8 kgs - soooooo much better than 98.4 as it was on New Year's Day.

I'm fitter. My squat track weight in Pump is up to 17.5 kgs. 12.5 for the chest track, 15 kgs for the back track and I'm starting to do weight lunges again. Pinochet had me dead lifting 45 kgs the other night.

My knee is resolving too. I've started to run again.

It's working, that's all I'll say.

The world, despite its problems, is looking up in places.


Dilemma: What happens to the Facebook page?

I'm pondering somethings I wish I didn't have to think about at the moment.

The call came through yesterday afternoon. My friend Flora rang with the news I'd been dreading. Flora's sister, Rose, had passed away.

A little bit of history.

I've known Flora since university. She's one of my oldest friends. She now lives in Canberra with ther husband, Pierro, and three-year-old daughter, Natascha - or Natty for short. I was Flora's bridesmaid a few years ago when she and Pierro wed. Flora wrote to me monthly when I was in London. Along with Bernadette and Geetangeli, she's my longest standing friend. They're the friends when things happen, you drop everything for, even when you may not speak to them for months at a time - like when Bernie had to go and have her appendix out, I was round sitting her kids while Gav when and collected her Mum from the airport. Or when Geetangeli's Mum passed, flowers and phone calls were made - just as when I was in hospital last year, visits and calls were there while I recouperated.

Flora, Bernie and I have another modern dilemma - we're in one place, the family are in another. It can make for some fun times. Treks back to Adelaide are common for us all. And as I have family in Canberra, I'm used to popping up there regularly, not only to see my glorious, aging Aunt, but to spend some time with Flora and her tribe too.

I know Flora's family quite well. When on my way through Sydney to visit a friend in hospital in Newcastle, I dropped in for a cup of tea - this was demanded of me. At Flora's wedding, I sat entertaining her niece, Amy and the other flowergirls who'd gotten to know me as we all got ready. There's pictures of me at Natty's christening giving her a bottle talking to Nana and one of the aunts. I'm treated like one of the family. It's lovely. Flora's mum, sister and brother are my facebook friends - and they drop in the odd comment. We're in each others lives in a remote sort of way. They're a lovely family.

They certainly don't deserve this heartache.

What make's Rose's passing even more tragic is it's sudden nature. She was fine a fortnight ago. Then things happened, she was moved from ward to ward, hospital to hospital, getting progressively more ill. First I found out about it was last Thursday when Flora emailed to say she was about to go on the transplant list. I was on the phone to Flora immediately. Complicating matters, her parents were in the middle of moving house. Flora's Mum did the mercy dash to Adelaide, Flora was preparing to go to Sydney to help her father move.

And now this happens.

When she called, Flora was stoic. This is Flora all over. A great woman to have in a crisis. Practical to the point of pragmatic. Straight down the line. Dealing with a distraught father on one side of the country while the world was imploding in Adelaide. I could hear the stress cracking her voice. She will be allowed to grieve later - once things have been sorted. Once the family have moved house and the funeral arrangements have been made and some of the shock has worn off.

She's asked me to come up to Canberra in the next few days to look after Natty while they go to Rose's funeral. Making the 12 hour drive to Adelaide is hard enough without having a three-year-old in the back of the car. Of course I'll oblige.

Maybe this is why the universe has kept work from coming my way so far - so I can make my way to Canberra, to be there to take Natty to day care, feed her, read her a story, take her to the playground and generally care for her while her parents attend to the horrors of saying goodbye. Of course I will go. How much trouble can I get into with a three-year-old? (Don't answer that! Actually, I'm thankful that when in Canberra my Aunt, grandmother to thirteen, great-grandmother to five or so, is about the place to advise, as are two of my cousins, each who've had kids)

But the things that keep going through my mind, other than thinking about Rose's husband and children, which is all just too awful, are part of the modern dilemmas. What happens to her facebook page? What is the etiquette with all of this? She's not here any more. She has nearly 300 facebook friends. Does one post a goodbye message there? What about the fly-by-night friends? Is this the way things are notified in these times? Does this page get closed down now she is no longer here?

We won't go into what happens to the mobile phone - that vocal reminder on the message bank that can be called any time of the day or night when you want to hear her voice - or the answering machine - the board at the church where her picture is up there along with the other vergers. These digital reminders never used to be there.

Flora's also made some valid points in our conversations. Rose was an active member of her local church - who gets dibs on the funeral service - friends or family? Their pastor will conduct the service, but the pastor has never met her parents. He knows her husband and kids, but not the extended family. Can he or she minister to the rest of the family? What the family may want for the funeral arrangements may not be right for the church community. There's a lot of possible politics to be involved.

Rose's passing has left me shaken. I'm pleased to be there for Flora, but it's opened up a whole heap of questions for me.

So many questions that I called my own sister last night.

"Don't die." I told her, "I'm not sure what I'd do."

"I've got too much to do. I'm not going anywhere. Don't you go anywhere either. "

"Same for me."

"You know I love you," I told my sister. "I don't tell you that very often, but I have no idea how I'd cope. I know we're not that close, but I do love you."

"I love you too, and I'd be in the same boat if it happened to us. It's just too awful," said my sister.

My sister and I were crying by the end of the conversation.

There are no blessings in Rose's passing, a vibrant, loving woman in her mid-thirties, mother of two, carer of many in her work role, a woman full of fun, life and love. The only thing it has shown me is that you have to value your relationships, value them regularly, tell people you care whether they be close or not. You never know when they may be taken away from you.

Rest peacefully, Rose.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Moved My Cheese

The one book on the planet that has changed my life for the better is Dr Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese?" It seriously has more of an effect on my life than any other hundred pages ever written.

I came across the book many years ago - and dismissed it, before that time as a bit of corporate wank.

But I remember the afternoon too well.

After a good day at work, an annoucement was made. The facilities manager at work had passed away. Suicide.

This guy's death left a hole. It was just before Christmas. He was popular, fun, had a kind word for all. Divorced and a father of a young girl, he seemingly had everything to live for. Now, about a fortnight before Christmas 2002, here we were in the offices of Merrill Lynch confused and bereft. Coming back from checking my mailbox I stopped in at a book shop and the book caught my eye. I purchased it.

Something made me stop on the walk home. I lay down on the grass in Fitzroy Gardens on this balmy December afternoon and read the book cover to cover.

In just under an hour, my life had totally changed.

This little book that goes on about the simple facts of change management. Looking for change, anticipating change, searching out change, embracing change.

And the big message, the big writing on the wall that sank in immediately.

"What would you do if you weren't scared."

My life changed for the better from that day.

Okay, there are times I use the excuse that I'm scared - but not often.

If I'm brutally honest with myself, half the reason I haven't finished the job of losing weight has been because I was scared. Scared to get out there, scared to know what it's like to feel attractive. Scared to take on the full possibilities of my life.

So now, when I find myself fearing something, I step back, look at whatever it is I'm doing - and try and think about what I could do if I wasn't being fearful.

Like yesterday, looking at the Thousand Steps in the Dandenongs, the fear set in. Standing around with the posse from the Biggest Loser Club, my online and real life support group (and I really wouldn't be doing this as well as I am without them) the thought of scaling the mountain set in.

Acknowledge the fear. Then do it anyway.

It's a silly fear, that one. I've done the thousand steps four or five times now. I went up in January with Laura and Trish from the posse early in January. Laura, now training to be a personal trainer romped it up. At the time I was nearly ten kilos heavier and not as fit - and my knee was still being difficult. Together, Trish, who's fitness levels were similar to my own, and I encouraged each other up the hill. It wasn't easy, it took us a bit over half an hour - but we did it.

And it felt fantastic.

Yesterday, the same fear set in. A few more people joined us - including a mother and daughter, Tracey and Sienna.  This time Trish and I made it up in under half an hour - lighter, fitter and the climb was a little less intense. Of the mother and daughter, Tracey made it up a few minutes after Trish. Sienna, who suffers from asthma, walked back down after getting halfway up - she'd left her puffer behind - but full points for trying and giving it a red hot go. Next time we do it, she'll be fitter (and have her ventolin - and she'll be fine)

We also had a couple join us - they'd come a long way to come on the walk. They were late for the start - which coming from a distance, was forgiven. But after they got ready, they walked about a hundred metres up the hill, not even to the start of the steps, before retreating. The reason given for the back flip was that one or other of them felt ill.

Why couldn't the well one continue on the path up the hill? Why didn't they both take a leaf out of  15-year-old Sienna's book and give it a bit of a go? Why did they come in the first place?

At the top, once Tracey had joined us, we pondered the dilemma as a group. Laura, in personal trainer mode, said if she'd known, she'd have run down and kicked their bums up that sodding hill. Others of us were really disappointed that the two of them had bailed. We also noted that two or three years ago, all of us would have considered piking out at the bottom. None of us were fit then. None of us would relish climbing up a big hill for half an hour. Our former selves would have struggled. Some of us would have given it a go, puffing, panting and trying to haul ourselves up those steps - embarrassed by the sight of ourselves.

One of the lovely things about the 1000 Steps is no matter how often you go, people coming down will give you encouragement. People who are passing you will give you encouragement. The people you are with will give you encouragement.

How to you get that if you don't even start?

So here I am, on top of the hill, knowing I moved my own cheese. I'm making my own changes. I'm looking for change and loving the challenge. I'm working out what I really can do when I don't let fear get me.

And hell it feels good.

Thing is, for all the exercise I'm doing at the moment, there are more fears to be faced. This next one's going to be a doozy.

What am I, Pandora T. Behr, going to do with a three-year-old for a few days? In Canberra? Exercise challenges are a doddle compared to this.



Project Pandora Report - Day Seven

Well, seven days in to the 12WBT, I'm not wanting to chew my arm off at 3 pm through hunger, I'm exercising for at least an hour a day, burning 500-700 calories a session and wonderfully, I lost 2 kgs in the first week. I'm not missing sugar, the recipes are wonderful (the eggplant parmagiana was a revelation - actually all the food has been brilliant) and having the posse about who are all doing this is making this a good experience. One week down, eleven to go. Will just have to work out how to do this properly in Canberra when that occurs.

Oh, and re did my fitness test run with Trish on the flat of the Tan. I ran alongside her encouraging and yelling at her all the way ("watch the breathing, lengthen the stride, come on, nearly there" sort of stuff.). Six minutes eight seconds - nearly a clear thirty seconds quicker than on the tready. And no knee pain.

Pandora the runner is back.

And I have to look at what I could do if I wasn't yelling and talking and encouraging as well as running. What time would I make? Hmmm....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

They know they can survive...

Yesterday appears to have been a dreadful day for many.

Amidst the destruction of Christchurch, I'm happy to report my friends Geetangeli and Bill are fine, their house in one piece, though they are waiting news on a couple of friends. My thoughts go out to them.
My mother rang to tell me about the visit to my aunt - the first time she'd seen her since the accident over a month ago. It was a rather distressing visit, my aunt, in her delirious state asking my mother to come and visit again before she passes over. My mother is a lot like me - all tough on the outside but marshmallow within. I know it's killing her to see her like this - but what can you do other than be there for her on the other end of the phone?

Then Georgie let it be known her father and brother were in a car accident - her brother walking away while her Dad was in intensive care, slowly recouperating but still in an awful state. Thankfully, he should recover fully and the news is getting better, but it's still dreadful.

Then the cherry on the cake - a friend had her heart broken properly for the very first time. A complete nightmare to watch as she slowly imploded after an awful day.

But what can you do but be there and listen? And think about what you've learned.

Maybe I'm getting better at having my heart broken. Maybe I'm just older and wiser and know how to bounce back better. Or maybe I know how to protect myself now, seeing the danger signs before the real heartache sets in.

Watching my friend, I had a think. Just how many times had I had my heart broken properly? Not a necessary parting of company or a moving on - the real feeling of heartbreak, where it feels like you've had your insides removed with a rusty spoon and you cry for days. The type of heartbreak that no amount of ice cream, chocolate or wine can fix.

The type of heartbreak that changes your life.

I think I scored a four. Four times I've had my feelings stomped on to such a degree that I've been put out of action for a day or so. After that it gets a bit easier - then it's just the dealing with the aftermath of what has happened - and that's when the fun really starts.

These breakups come with a theme song. Something that was playing on the radio at the time that will always remind you of the break up and how you bounced back. Stupid thing is that these songs will always be among your favorites. The songs that for some reason will bouy you when nothing else will.

The other thing I've learned about heartbreak - it's one of the best ways to learn a lesson quickly and well. It shakes things up to a point that  you know things can't continue.

So, of these incidents, let me see.

The first one is always the worst - as you have no idea what you're doing.Thank goodness first love only goes away once.

So, it's 1985, Careless Whisper is on the radio (joy, music to slit your wrist by if there ever was a song) though the theme song for this break up is Reckless, by Australian Crawl - still one of my favorite ever songs. Strange - something you associate with so much hurt is something you love so much. I suppose I remember the good with the bad. Tooling around the Fleurieu in his yellow Datsun 180B, his trying to teach me BASIC, lots of firsts, lots of normality.

The lad - Spotty Youth. Computer Nerd. Off in Adelaide working his first job. I was still back at Myponga completing matriculation. He dumped me at a party. He no longer wanted to see me any more. All I remember is taking to my bed for three days, mostly crying and talking to the dog in that time. I had no comprehension of what was going on. What had I done wrong? Why didn't he love me?

Sixteen-year-old me had no idea how to cope with all this. I didn't have friends to talk to about it. My parents were busy living out there own marital hell at the time - couldn't turn there. It was awful - and it took about two years to finally get him out of my system completely. Which is a pity. These days I'd be back in the saddle in a few weeks.

Break-up two was more a revelation.

The lad - Pretty but distant South African. Location - London. Theme song Feels Like Teen Spirit .

Looking back, twenty four-year-old me had the emotional maturity of a labrador puppy. Ready to love anything for any reason. If I was to meet the South African now he's probably be written off as an arrogant pretty-boy with delusions of grandeur. We'd been pen friends for years before we hooked up in London. Me coming to terms with everything, he apparently had the world in his hands. Wrong person, wrong time. We lived together for three months and at the end of this, he kicked me out - giving me a month to leave.

Remember crying for days - in between looking for houses in the Willesden Green area. I was out in a fortnight and life started to get better - a lot better. Stupidly, South African and I kept seeing each other on the sly for another two years - again, a bad move, but looking back, having him out of my life on a day to day basis was good. I found my feet. I found new friends. I got better temp jobs. And things moved.

Feels Like Teen Spirit always gives me a sense of freedom. It's my current ringtone. It reminds me that no matter how much crap gets dished out, I'm better than it all.

The South African was out of the system far more quickly. I learned to move on. I learned to heal. Took up a massage course. Took up an acting course. Life got better.

There's a  favorite quote of mine from a rather dreadful movie that came out about that time. "Damaged people can be dangerous.... they know they can survive." I'm not sure I'm dangerous, but I know I'm not to be underestimated. It's times like this, when heartbroken, on shaky ground, up against the odds, that the best in me comes out. I have to remind myself of this.

Break up three happened four years ago. More a minor blip on the radar, but it still hurt. I'm sure, to this day, it was the universe saying, "What are you doing with that cretin!" It really wasn't a good match. He was depressed, angry, disillusioned by society and a complete noddy - though a noddy who was affectionate and rather good in the sack.  Hmmm. I thank the universe to this day that he went back to his morbidly obese ex (one of the reasons he dumped me was because I was too skinny.)

Glory Box reminds me of him. I have to thank him for letting me go. My self-esteem blossomed after he went. You have to look for the good after all.

And the last time - two years ago. Caught me by surprise. Never felt love at first sight before. Not sure I want to go through that again. Not strong enough to fight the joys of unrequited love, the whole situation hurt like hell. Time and motion took away the pain.

The tune that goes along with this is Jeff Beck's Brush with the Blues. There is something about a wailing guitar and a snare drum that fits the situation. It goes with the memories. Somewhat bittersweet and somewhat joyous. A strange tune  - very unlike my normal musical tastes. But I still love it, even if it's referred to as Track Six.

From all of this, I get that it's the moving on that makes you strong.

As a new friend of mine calls her blog, fall down seven times, get up eight.

It's not really how you handle the initial pain.

It's all in how you come out of it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Girl in the Che Guevara T-Shirt

I walk, therefore I am.

Monday mornings I'm very much me, as on Monday mornings I take my constitutional lap of the Tan with my friend Gloria. It's actually a bit more than a lap of the Tan. I start out from my place, meet Gloria somewhere around the top of Anderson Street forty minutes later, do the lap, go for a coffee, then set off to get my mail in the city and walk home. It's about a 15 kilometre journey and takes me about three hours including the coffee.

Once a long distance runner, always a long distance runner - or in my case, walker as my knee, though healing, is still not up for anything more that the odd minute interval.

This three hour schlep around town has me pondering the joys of Melbourne. The small rituals that come into the walk have to be done. Maybe it's a small dose of OCD, maybe it's just the joys of repetition, but there are a number of things that have to be done on my Monday morning to make my day feel complete.

First up, the dressing ritual. The heart rate monitor chest strap is snapped on under the bra. The clothing is normally a pair of jeans or leggings and my very old, very well loved, not quite opaque Che Guevara t-shirt. I've had this shirt since London and it's my walking t-shirt. It's supposed to say leave me alone - I'm angsty and tough and not worth meddling with (particularly as it's a fan t-shirt for the band Rage Against the Machine.) I slap on sunscreen, sunglasses and find my well-loved, shady wombat hat. Lastly, the trainers, my trusty ASICS, are shoved on my feet, my bag, containing my wallet, phone, a bottle of water is grabbed, then I'm off.

Things that need to be done on this walk - jaywalk across Highett Street - the lights take ages. Must check out what the reservoir levels are doing at the corner of Swan and Punt. As I've just discovered, there are footy players normally running around, shirt or sans shirt, at Gosch's Paddock. The sunglasses give a clear perv without being too obvious.

As I'm normally running about five minutes late, and Gloria has a habit of arriving early, we meet somewhere near the top of Anderson Street to start our clockwise circumnavigation of the Botanical Gardens. This is our opportunity to put the world to rights. We discuss the weekend, what people are up to, how Gloria's partner, Gaynor, is doing, what stupid exercises I got up to on the weekend, how our concurrent job hunting is going, what's going on at dream group/meditation and of course, commenting on every dog that is being dragged around the circuit by their fitness freak master.

After a lap, it's into the Tan coffee shop where Gloria has her standard issue latte and I partake in my normal mug of skinny cappuccino. We sit down for about twenty minutes, after which we struggle to our legs - nicely stiffened by the stationary time.

Gloria and I say goodbye and I make my way around the Tan and into the city. The little rituals continue. One must pass Flinders Street Station and look at the crap food I no longer eat - I never knew that donuts could make me feel nauseous. I used to love them. It's then down Degraves Street to check out the Florentine Paper shop and look at the coffee drinking class linger over their macchiatos and paninis. Through Centre Lane with it's clothes and exotic smells and across to Australia on Collins where it's straight through to the Royal Arcade.

Finding a silver coin in my bag its into the Spellbox to spin the wheel. Spellbox you ask? Well, it's my motherland - a mystical and witchcraft shop, at the back of which is a pinwheel. You put five cents in the box and spin the wheel and it gives you your reading for the day - based on the major arcana of the tarot. It's a ritual for me - and the Spellbox is a haven when I'm in the city - a chance to get my energies back - and let my inner witch out for five minutes.

After Spellbox, it's across the road to collect the mail from my post office box. As I've always lived on busy thoroughfares, I've always kept a post office box for mail. It's great - your parcels are collected, your letters stay dry, nobody knicks stuff (which living in a place where there is a bit of housing commission around does happen now and then) and it helps stop identity theft.

Once that is done, it's the four kilometre walk home - often stopping to say hi to Tom at the old work coffee shop or straying for a quick chat with whoever is passing that I've known from former lives.

Yesterday's walk home was broken up by a conversation with a charity tout. It used to be that you could walk down the street unhindered - now I tend to avoid anybody with a clip board for fear of getting what ever sob story that comes my way. Don't get me wrong - charities do amazing work. I give monthly to Medicins sans Frontiers and the Fred Hollows Foundation. I'd like to give more, but under the current circumstances, I'm not in the position to do so. I also sort of resent being nabbed in the street by people. My normal excuse to get out of conversation with them is "I'm on my way to a meeting and I'm late." That gets rid of them. Unfortunately, when you're in a Che Guevara t-shirt and wombat hat, you can't get away with that.

So, yesterday, Mr Greenpeace, resplendent in a slightly dirty mustard coloured t-shirt, birkenstocks and dreadies stops me in the street. He had an earnest smile. Bless.

"I'll stop you now," I said as he approached me with his clipboard.
"You know who we are?"
"Of course. I already give you money." This is not a lie - I'll throw $20 in Greenpeace's direction when I'm flush.
"Well that is very good of you, thank you." said Birkenstock Boy. He thrust a hand in my direction. Dirty nails. Eww.

I took it and shook it as he pulled me in for a hug.

Joy, dreadie, hairy mungbeaner, hippy hug.

Che is supposed to protect me from this sort of thing!

I extracted myself from the arms of the hairy mungbeaner and walked on, mumbling something about the great work Greenpeace do. Albert Street and the three kilometre walk home awaited.

More rituals - searching out the Rainbow Lorikeets along Parliament gardens, pondering the dogs in Fitzroy Gardens, resisting the urge to lie on the grass in the park, thinking that there has to be an alternative for all drivers to Punt Road - busy at all hours of the day and night. Then of course there's the hunt for the police cars at the commission tower blocks and sending out a roving eye for stray firemen.

Once home, I'm on the floor for a good stretch, a large glass of water, then its off for a shower to start the day proper.

The job will come - but I'm really enjoying the blessings of having this time to be able to do the Monday morning consititutional. I'll miss it when I'm working.

Project Pandora Update Day 2

Did my fitness test tonight. Ran a kilometre on the treadmill as I'm not really supposed to be running and at least it's a sprung track which will protect the knee a bit. Made the kilometre in 6 minutes 33 seconds - gobsmacked and thrilled! for somebody who hasn't run  for six months it was FANTASTIC. 42 pushups from my knees in a minute, over two minutes in the wall sit and level 3 sit ups, I'm a happy Pand - the workouts are paying dividends. First weigh in tomorrow morning.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Project Pandora

As paid employment is proving to be a little elusive at the moment, I've resigned myself to feeling secure in the knowledge that I am supported financially and I'm  just getting on with life. Well, I do have enough funds to last for another three or four months, and work will come before that - and it's not that I'm spending all day every day looking for work. I'm doing more than enough to find work - just as I'm enjoying the "me time".

My challenge at this point is accepting that I'm supported by the universe. In this, I feel comforted by tarot readings and other things that have indicated I'm exactly where I need to be. Not being officially employed actually feels really good. I'm very busy, I have a bit of money coming in with tarot, massage, reflexology and other such little jobs. I'm swapping massages for personal training sessions every so often  - which has a few more rewards my end (wry smirk - massaging personal trainers has it's benefits)

Yesterday was a bit different. I drove out to Ballarat to a friend's place to energy cleanse her house. Armed with a sage smudge stick, black candles, Tibettan Bells, incence and a few other hocus pocus items, I returned to Melbourne a few hours later and a few dollars better off, content in the knowledge that my client was thrilled with the work. I also came back smelling like a mix of burning herbs, candle grease and labrador. Ah well, the joys of doing witchy things.

But I go some good thinking time to and from Ballarat. And the conclusion I came to - All is okay. All is exactly as it should be. Stop pressing the universe for more - it will come - you're doing the appropriate yards. And you wont get this opportunity to have some me time for hell knows how long.

I also got to decide the following. So rather than bemoaning not having a job, I've put myself on my own project.

Project Pandora.

All projects need to be named after some Greek or Roman entity. Pandora was a woman who had all the evils of the world in a box - when she opened it all that was left in the box was hope and opportunity. I think this sounds like a very good project name.

I think that's rather relevant. I now have hope and opportunity to get my life back on track - to get the best version of me out of this.This is my time. This is my space. This project is about finding the best me that there is.

Why haven't I done this before, I ask myself.

Well, it sort of comes down to a mix if time, confidence and money. It's the time and confidence I've needed - money's never been too much of an issue. And of course there is hope and opportunity to get this to done at last.

Well, now is time to get going on this project. Like any good project, it needs to be managed, and managed well.

I've mentioned the Michelle Bridges' 12 Week Body Transformation Challenge - well this starts Monday.

This is my Project Management Plan for the next twelve weeks. And what a PMP! Hell, Mish is the Project Director from hell. A really hard task master. In the last few weeks there have been all sorts of pre-project taks to complete.

First up there was kick off - introduce yourself to the others. I'm thankful there's a group of virtual friends who I've known for years through the Biggest Loser Club who are doing this project as well. We're in regular conversations. So I have my posse. I've also thrilled to have my training partners at the gym who are helping me keep on track.

The next task was to look at your excuses for not losing weight. This opened up a minefield. My main reasons for not sticking to these plans - boredom and insecurity. I get bored after a few months of "dieting", then I get complacent and the weight then comes back - albeit a lot slower than in years past and I've kept up a good part of the food and exercise regimes. Now is the time to finish the job. My more insidious excuses are all mental. I tell my self that I have no idea what I will find at the end of the journey. I have no idea what it is to be slim. I have no idea how to be attractive. Well this thinking has to stop - I just have to look at this as an adventure - and I LOVE adventures. We'll work out how to feel pretty inside and out, and what it feels like to be slim on the way. I'm just going to have to build a bridge over those ones.

Task three, Goals. What do I want out of this project? Well the big one for me is to get my BMI out of the obese range into the a little more palatable chubby range. That is currently about seven kilos away. If I could lose 7 kilos in the next twelve weeks I will feel as if I've met a huge goal. I'm not trying to set myself up to fail, but this is an SMART goal. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. If more gets lost, well so be it. I'll aim for seven kilos.

I also have the goal of running a marathon next year  - with the knee injury slowly clearing, and with a lengthy training time, this is doable. I know it's a strange thing to want to do. I wrote about this a few days ago anyway.

Task Four ; Get your gear ready - well, this one hasn't been too bad. I own and use a heart rate monitor religiously. I have good working, reliable scales. I have kitchen scales, an abundance of workout gear, decent trainers. I also have a well bashed gym membership, well know walking/ running tracks available and mates to take along for the ride. That one was an easy task. Done.

Task Five:  Get people on board with what you're doing. Well this is done to - with mixed results. Again, my gym buddies and forum mates have been very supportive. Other friends have not been as easy to sway or have been more negative than required. Going around to people's places where you're offered biscuits and chocolate - keeping strong with that is hard. I don't like banging on to friends about this stuff too often - but the key people have been informed.

My one sticking point will be the my Masonic friends. Three months of either not staying for supper or sitting on my hands as a CWA endorse supper is placed in front of you is going to be hard. Having the old ducks telling you to eat something is almost as bad as having your grandmother yell at you.

Task Six: Clear out the crap from the kitchen. Again, this has been an easy one as I've banished the crap ages ago. Apart from the odd jar of jam, a small pot of weight watchers ice cream and few ready meals, my fridge and cupboards are crap free. Thankfully most of the healthy eating stuff has been well instilled - so that's fine.

Task Seven was to diarise the first month of exercise. Again, this was a bit hard. I hate not having freedom. I know I am down to exercise six days a week for an hour a day. I have no problem doing this, just don't tell me when the hell I'm supposed to do it! It will be done. I do three pump classes, a few runs and a stretch class a week - don't nag me - I'll do it. This one pushed a few buttons. Also, as the job situation is likely to change - I'm not willing to commit to an exercise plan weeks in advance - especially to timings. So I know the exercise will be done - just at what time will not be decided until nearer the time.

We were also asked to do monthy benchmarks  to consider. There needs to be something each month that you're striving for. I'm still thinking about this one. I know I'm down for the 14 km Run for the Kids in April - bung knee and all I'd like to do this in under two hours. Will have to think about the other months.

The last task has just been handed over. What are your starting stats. Height (167 cms), weight (92 kgs on the nose) Chest, waist, thigh measurements have all been taken. Then the killer. Get a starting photo - preferably taken in your knickers. AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH.

Don't worry - I'm not going to post these photos here - I'm far more compassionate than that. I've roped either Kit or Emm to take the shots. They've seen me in the changerooms of the gym, so there are no nasty surprises. This is about the most confronting job we've been asked to do. Having to look at my semi naked body in a photo - crap. But this project is also about facing fears, and facing fears we will do.

So Project Pandora, filled with hope and opportunity kicks off Monday. Twelve weeks, six exercise sessions a week, around 1200 calories a day.

There will be updates, benchmarks

Maybe I should PMP cleaning my flat...


Monday, February 14, 2011

I Have Never...

This is a direct borrow from Kath at Blurb from the Burbs . Rather than rant on about the joys of hating another Hallmark Holiday, I thought looking at things I've never done could be an interesting thing to ponder.

So, here we go,

I have never:

1) Eaten a standard issue meat pie - like the ones you get at the footy. Since I was a young child, I've avoided them like the plague. Something to do with being told that they were filled with horse meat.

2) Been to Africa or South America - something I'd like to remedy one day.

3) Been arrested. Other than being moved on one night whilst down a dark laneway with my then boyfriend, the police and I have had a very amicable relationship. Up until a year ago I had never had a speeding ticket either.

4) Tried absinthe. It might make me more potty. Why would I do that?

5) Been classed in a healthy weight range. I've nearly made the BMI of 25 - once, but not quite. I'm just glad I'm almost out of the obese bracket. Hopefully, with all the work I'm doing, this will happen soon.

6) Run a full marathon. I've run three half marathons and I'm hoping to knock this one off next year some time. It's something I want to do. Madness, but the urge is still there.

7) Seen a dead body. As I wasn't in the country for my father's funeral, I missed that viewing. I've seen a few people who were about to cark it, a few hours away from death, but I've never seen anybody actually dead. I've not seen anybody being born either - though I've assisted lots of animals in the birthing process - it's not the same.

8) Killed an animal. This may seem a strange one, but I'm a country girl and animals are put down or killed for their meat regularly. The only thing I can remember killing is the odd huntsman spider - and even then I feel dreadful and have to do a few rounds of the kaddish to make atonement. I can't even sling lobsters in a pot - though I'm happy for somebody else to do my killing for me (as long as the animal/crustacean is being put to good use).

9) Owned my own cat or dog. When I was a kid, the dog was my dog, though she belonged to the family. As a grown up, I've happily borrowed people's pets as I'm not in a position to have one of my own. One day.

10) Been able to walk properly in heels. I walk like a bad tranny in heels over two inches. Best avoided me thinks.

11) Liked tennis. Pointless game. Lumped in with golf as a complete waste of time.

12) Seen the point of zucchini (courgettes if you're English). Possibly the blandest vegetable ever to be put on the planet. Like eating limp cardboard - bleargh.

13) Seen the following films: Any of the Godfather series, Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter or 2001: A Space Odyssey.

14) Seen why Nicole Kidman has won or been nominated for any Oscar. Can't see the appeal at all.

Okay - and things I will never do again:

i) Work in the back office of a merchant bank. After ten years in pergatory, I know that I can't do that again - I'd jump out the window rather than go back there. It's not for me. I admire my friends who enjoy the work there but I'm not cut from that cloth.

ii) Mix Baileys and Beer. Stupid, just stupid. Never, ever again in the same glass. Tragic night that one.

iii) Allow my weight to get over 100 kgs again. I'm on a roll at the moment - and it's been over three years since I was over that mark - nearly got there at the end of last year, but I'm too commited to my health to let that happen EVER again.

iv)  Shag on first dates. Smiley face. Blush. Learned my lesson.

v)  Live illegally in another country. Did that for six years. I'm not willing to risk it ever again.

vi)  Have short hair. Short hair and I just don't get on. My hair is something I like about myself. It's long and wavy and even if I now have to colour over the few greys It's good hair. The shortest my hair goes is just above shoulder length. As my hair is really fine, it just looks silly short, emphasising my fat face. I'm going to be one of those old ladies with a grey bun I reckon. Many bad memories associated with short hair for me too.

vii) Read Russian Literature. There are more things out there to read that aren't going to bore the tits off of me. I can stomach Chekhov as he writes plays. Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky may as well have taken the Anna Karenina route and thrown themselves under a train instead of inflicting the world with their turgid tripe.

viii) Buy poly/cotton bed linen. I'm a sheet snob. It's high thread count pure cotton in this household. Something my mother instilled in me, good sheets last. And they're nicer to sleep in too.

ix) Not stand up for myself. I'm too old and grumpy to not do this anyway. I've gotten a lot better at standing up for my rights over the years, just as I won't let myself stay in untenable situations for too long. Tin Can, String and Whistle is an example of this.

x) Go back to shaving my legs and armpits. I'm a commited waxer/epilator - and I hate the feeling of stubble.

And lastly, things I'd like to try:

a) Skydiving -well at least a tandem jump. Up until two years ago, paragliding was on the list, but not after a very nasty event which happened to one of my circle.

b) Owning my own property. Just getting my head around this one. It will happen.

c) Writing a novel. There's one in everybody. Of course it has to be a best seller. Actually, just getting one published is an achievement in itself.

d) A long term, commited relationship with a kind, loving man. As I've never had one of these, I'd love to try it. Most of the demons have gone now, so hopefully I'm in a place where I can embark on this one.

e) Learning another language properly. I speak reasonable French - I'd love to be fluent and maybe pick up another language fluently. Spanish or Italian would be great.

f) Piano Lessons. I never learned as a child receiving flute lessons instead. I'm actually quite musical - and would love to learn one day - when I have a piano that is - and some time.

g)  Living in Paris. Though I've vowed to not return to Paris until I was with a partner (only ever been to Paris by myself - and it sorta takes the edge off it) it fits nicely with point b. and I know it's a city I'd love to know as intimately as I know London. Same goes with Rome and New York. Fascinating places.

h) Being a standard size fourteen or under. I'm a fairly standard sixteen on the bottoms and an eighteen on the top. This is a reasonble wish to fulfil. Check this space at then end of the year.

i) Going to a new country once a year. This is a big wish as I love travelling. So many countries, so little time.

j) A photography course with a proper camera. I love taking photos and would love to be better at it. But it's in the time and money basket at the moment.

Love to hear your lists:


Friday, February 11, 2011

Thinking Woman's Crumpet

I'm blaming Kitt for this blog. It's all her fault.

I have dreadful taste in men.

There, I've said it.

Seriously, when we were waiting to come back to earth and lining up for something that resembles a clue about the opposite sex I think I was caught up in the breasts and glibness lines and missed out on going to the "Taste in Men" line all together.

I've been sent down to this earth without much of a clue.

Actually, I've been sent down here with no clue at all.

My friends seems to have scored well. I look at Blarney's Barney. Okay, he has the worst pair of moccasins in the world - which if I were Blarney, I'd burn - but he's a funny, clever, caring man. Glen Waverley is a catch in his own engineery way - he's actually rather wise. Reindert is a delight. But these guys aren't my type. They're my friends. I love them dearly, but I don't find them attractive.

My first boyfriend at high school was known for two things. His greasy hair and his spots. Looking forward, he probably runs a software company making squillions now - and he;s probably bald. As it goes, he was probably the best of a bad lot at high school.

There is nobody of consequence to talk about from university. Those moments of madness have been buried in the vaults of time under "Don't go there - you'll make yourself queasy." (Also, there are a few people from uni who occasionally read this - I'm not going to divulge)

The guy I was with in London for a few years which was doomed. Very good looking, but very hard - and particularly hard on me - well I thought he was. When we parted company he was trading options for a major broking house. He's probably retired and living in a gated community in Cape Town now. Like the first boyfriend, I lost all contact - and that is a very good thing.

The gaggle of inappropriate men continues. The Turkish bodybuilder (a bit like bad quality ganache, not particularly rich and very thick), the removalist from the New Zealand West Coast who was covered in prison tatts (Okay, soft spot for this one - a nice guy for a change - just nothing to talk about), the engineer who played concert piano, the dodgy car salesman from Galway... oh there are some wonderful creatures in the list.

The only thing  that the guys who've been in my life for the last for the last few years is that they've had prematurely grey hair and haven't stuck around for long.

As a young girl Mark Holden really floated my boat. This is an admission. At seven, receiving a pink carnation was all I ever wanted, along with a Barbie Campervan and rollerskates, neither of which I was never allowed to have. When he turned up on Australian Idol thirty years later I was left sitting there thinking oh, Yuk!

Dicko on the other hand. Like wow. Truthful, funny, smart and with a wry smile (and what is it with the grey hair?). Like yum. Please can I have one of those for Christmas. I don't mind that he has a pot and a Brummie accent. He's just crumpet.

Over the years my "Celebrity Boyfriends", you know, the celeb with whom you'd most like to get stuck on a desert island, complete with a gross of condoms and a stash of whipped cream - they've often left friends saying , "Who the hell?". While friends have staunchly drooled over Woody from the Bay City Rollers, to Adam Ant, the lead singer of Pseudo Echo and Warwick Capper and Brad Pitt, I've been lusting over such honey's as Kenneth Branagh, James Spader and Chandler from Friends.

(Yes, I can name friends who though Warwick Capper "spunky". The blackmail fees are putting my nieces through private school)

As I'm a bit older now, having slightly eccentric taste in men is a little more welcomed. Kenneth Branagh is still allowed to leave his boots under my bed as long as he talks Shakespeare to me. Colin Firth is just lovely - I'm sure you could take him anywhere and he'd just play along. Don't get me started on Clive Owen. He just looks filthy and throwing him in the bath is one of those small private fantasies that keeps me going when things are sinking. His only imperfection is that he's a Libran - but I'm willing to look over that.

Anyways, the reason I'm blaming Kitt for this blog is that she helped me see that there are more men out there than just the craggy, grey haired ones.

Out on our Thursday ten kilometre constitutional we walked through Gosch's Paddock. There were footy teams training. As it was pushing 30 degrees centigrade, about 80 percent humidity most of them were shirtless.


"Look at the pretty boys, Pand." cooed Kitt.
"Jailbait." I retorted.
"Pand, you are allowed to look."
"Kitt, they're twenty years my junior."
"You're allowed to look. Pretty boys."

See, to me, ice cream and chocolate is pretty. Shoes are pretty. Clothes are pretty - but boys?!

Something ticked over.
"Objectify them, Pand."
"Like Pinochet, he's pretty."
"Yeah, Pinochet."
"He's a good trainer, but he's a bit of a grunty boy lunk head."
"He's pretty."
"He is?"
"You're useless. I want you to practice looking at men."
"Do I have to?"
"Yes. It's part of your education."

I don't need to tell you that Kitt is fifteen years my junior.

I took another look. Ah. I think I'm getting it.

And so we ran/walked around the tan. Kitt a bit more vocal, murmering the odd, "Ah......" By the time we did a lap, the pretty boys had gone.


Unfortunately the rush of whatever it is, what ever it may be called, is still there.

And unfortuately, old habits and tastes die hard. I'm volunteering at the Writers Festival at the Abbotsford Convent this weekend, doing my sound tech gig once again. I was there tonight listening to a session about a cook book derived from the archives of the Heide Artists Colony, adjsuting the sound levels and trying to hide that the middle panel member was spitting into the mike. Reading the programme whilst listening to the panel waffle on about boiled rabbit, I saw that there was a session Sunday Afternoon with the delightful Shaun Micallef.


On leaving the cook book session I went and found the Volunteer Coordinator and begged to be able to take the session. "Pretty please, pretty please." She said she would see what she could do.

Talk about Thinking Woman's Crumpet!

If I do get to run the session, I'm going to have to be careful about not drooling on the sound deck...

I think my taste in men, though flawed, will just have to stay the way it is.

Even if I stray to the shirtless footy players at Gosch's Paddock every now and then.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Playing Possum

I've spent my life hiding from things. As a kid all I wanted to do was blend in. I wasn't that successful at that, but I perfected the skill of keeping myself out of harm's way for the most part - physically and emotionally. Over the years this meant stacking on a healp of weight to keep the world alway, something I'm trying my hardest to get out of the habit - it serves me no purpose any more.

While I was hiding, I also didn't have many social outlets, didn't have many friends and life was pretty miserable. Hell, I even sent myself off to the other side of the world to hide away from stuff. That lasted eight long, often wonderful, often painful years.

Staying invisible was a way of life. Thank goodness that is no longer the case.

Now, being in a place where I no longer hide away, it's strange when you find yourself "Playing Possum". Trying to make yourself invisible, unseen - or in some cases, just plain old hiding.

In one particular case now, it just has to be done.

I've talked about Eddie before. Eddie and I shared a pod. Eddie has to be one of the most irritating men on the planet. It's not that Eddie has any malice or harm in him - he's just a time waster. After spending hours with him pondering excel spreadsheets that weren't my job, nattering to him in French, which I didn't really want to do and being lectured about the evils of diet coke, non-organic food and kit kats, when I moved pods, I breathed a large sigh of relief. I'm sure my fellow workmates at Tin Can, String and Whistle did the same as they no longer had to put up with me whining about him.

When I came back from holidays last year, it was to my joy to discover that Eddie had been retrenched. Not that I wanted to see the old git in any hardship, but like me, his role was no longer there as the project wound down. No more Eddie! Yay. And there was much rejoicing.

I wish him no ill. It's just that life was a lot more peaceful without him around. Life would be free from aggravation and useless conversations - normally conducted in French.


Sitting in the open plan area of the career counselling centre yesterday, head down searching for jobs, the exclamation came.

"Pandore! Comment c'a va? Tu es la? Oh, ce n'est pas bien." Oh, la la, ce n'est pas juste..."


"Hello, Eddie."

"Mais, Pandore..."

"In English, Eddie. It's not fair to the others." Sarah, another woman doing the same as me sniggered. Noel, who was sitting at the next computer just rolled his eyes and turned up his MP3 player.

He expressed how sad it was to see me out of Tin Can, String and Whistle, which I explained to him that I saw it as a great opportunity and that I was loving the time off. I didn't really want to be rude to Eddie, but half an hour later I had to excuse myself and flee of the office. There went a productive afternoon.

Alas, Eddie's been out of work for nearly four months. He's a bit of a hard nut - not the easist person to get on with, as he genuinely is the bloke from that ad in the link. He's the podmate from hell - but at least his heart is in the right place.

Mind you, it has me playing possum at the career consultant's. I ask the receptionist if he's in the offices - if not, I rest easy. If so, I make myself scarce, normally hiding behind a pillar which shield the desk from sight.

Not so easy is passing the old place of work.

It's not that I feel I have to hide away from these people - it's one person in particular that I don't want to run into.

Thankfully, my days in this in-between jobs phase are pretty full, but I'm finding that passing by the old work place is at times necessary, especially as I walk to and from the city most days. I only drop by my old work place and keep to the lobby if I'm meeting somebody and the coffee shop on the street next door is convenient to grab a coffee on my walk home - it's on my 12 kilometre walking loop. Besides, it's nice when the guy behind the counter shouts out "Pandora Special, Long Macchiato with extra skinny milk and a sweetener." These guys were a part of my life for three years - they know how I like my coffee - and it's lovely to pop by for a quick chat.

Yet I still get a little stressed passing by. What if I run into him? He who shall not be named. In a way, my own personal Lord Voldemort. Though really in the scheme of things, it's a blessing he's no longer about the place.

In passing my old place of work, I just don't want to run into him - but I'm not going out of my way either.

It's not that I'm missing having him about. It's not that I'm harbouring a grudge against him. I was willing to work through our differences and I have apologised for my actions that caused this break in our friendship. The fact that he hasn't apologised for his end - not that he can see any reason to apologise to me - doesn't need to be pondered.

I remember on of the things he was saying to me during the fight. "Stop being positive. It will get you nowhere."

That in itself is enough to make me distance myself from him.

It seems one, or both of us will need a paradigm shift to reconnent. I tend to only see things in a positive light.

He doesn't.

So in the mean time, as I pass the Tin Can, String and Whistle office, I throw on my metaphorical invisibility cloak and keep my head held high. One day I might shrug it off.

If I only have to play possum for these two people, I'm not doing too bad.


Friday, February 4, 2011

A Mother Moment

I don't talk about my mother here very often here, nor my family for that matter, but this deserved a mention.

My mother's family are a funny bunch. Most of the family have a talent that they've cultivated that others would never even recognise.

My uncle was a doctor - a country doctor for over fifty years. His diagnostic skills and beside manner was reknown from Adelaide to Mount Gambier.

My aunt was a midwife for forty years. She's seen around 20,000 people into the world in her days. Both she and my uncle have the Order of Australia for services to medicine and midwifery.

One of my cousins works in a hospice, helping those who are dying do so with dignity. How she does this I can never fathom. She's such a gentle soul - and she is wonderful at her job. Not many people could to what she does.

Another cousin runs the anaesthesia unit at a major Australian hospital. He keeps people safe when they are at there most vulnerable. Doctors who put you to sleep for operations are up there with brain surgeons as the best and brightest. Most family gatherings have conversations with him starting with,"Still sending people to sleep, Thom?" I don't know how he does it either. Too clever by half that one.

Others have these talents - not as obvious, but they are there. Cops, nurses, academics, priests. outreach workers - people in the caring professions. They've seen  it all, though you'd never expect from this group of quiet, unassuming, intelligent people.

Hell, my sister runs a childcare centre. Put her up for sainthood too if she can't have a medal.

Me, I'm a holistic healer by vocation. I know that most of my talent is a god given gift. Some of my skills have been cultivated, the rest is up to the grace of the universe.

And just like my Aunt, uncle, and various cousins, my mother also has a talent.

Mum trained as a nurse in the sixties. She was a theatre sister for many years and when we moved to Myponga, she worked in the local hospital in theatre, accident and emergency and geriatric wards.

Mum's special talent is that she helps people die.

No, she doesn't shove a pillow over their faces, nor do a Philip Nietschke and administer a cocktail of drugs. No nooses, garottes, shotguns or rat bait either.

Mum has the gentle art of sitting next to people while they gently pass down pat. She was there for my dad, her father, my dad's mother, my stepdad's mother as well as countless people over the years. If somebody was hanging on at whatever hospital she was working, they'd send her in and she'd hold their hand as they left this world. Normally it didn't take to long once she got in there. She says that half of it was giving them permission to go.

She's a bit like that cat that was on the news a few months ago that sits on people's beds as they die.

It's a bit of a strange talent - probably not one you'd ever want to brag about, but as it is often stated in our family lore, it's an honour to witness a birth or a death, human or animal. I so agree with this, as mucky, unpleasant, bloody, smelly or painful as it might me. Being filled with medicos, our family doesn't flinch when it comes to death, or birth, or pain for that matter. We're a pretty matter-of-fact bunch. Just something you have to get on with really. And don't ask for sympathy. You've got to be on medical grade morphine with a limb dangling from a strap of skin before you get sympathy on my family. (Bloody Methodists)

So tonight I called Mum to see how my aunt was progressing.

"Still out to it. Still in intensive care. No improvement. Breathing tube. Away with the pixies." she said glumly.
"Your uncle is getting a lot of support from friends, but I'm not sure how he's coping. Your stepdad and I are going down tomorrow to see him, do his ironing and cook him dinner. He's coping, but it's hard."
"I'm sure it is. Are you going to see Aunty?"
"Not much point," said Mum, "She doesn't recognise anybody - can't even squeeze your hand when you ask her to, but she's not unconscious either. What's the point?"
"It is all so sad."
"If only she'd either come out of this, or die. Make up her mind." Mum said sadly.
Quietly, I agreed with her.

My aunt has been her best friend since nursing school. They were each other's bridesmaids, my Aunt has been like another mother to me. As much as I don't want to see her go, I don't want her to be in limbo either. This waiting is the hard bit.

"Mind you, Mum, I don't know if visiting would be a good idea."
"Why not?"
"Well, you know, your talent. If you go in it might be seen as pointing the bone."
"I never thought of that."

The wheels of her brain were chugging away. I could hear them.

"I might see if we can see her in the next few days. Might help her go one way or the other..."

What was it Shakespeare said in "Measure for Measure"? "Oh, it is excellent to have a giant's strength, bit it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." Think I said a bit much...

My thoughts and prayers are with my aunt.

As for Mum, she trotted of to have her dinner. I'm sure she's discussing with my stepdad the ethics of visiting my aunt - and whether a visit might help release her from limbo one way or the other.

I shouldn't laugh - but what else are you supposed to do in such a situation?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Goals and Dreams

As I've still not heard a definite yay or nay about this two month contract, which is frustrating to say the least. This means that I'm going to continue to look for work while hoping that soon - very soon, all of this will be sorted. It's annoying to say the least - but then again, I've always worked for corporates where there's a real "Oh, just do it!" mentality. I'm told that the government works in mysterious ways.

I'm not sure if I like these ways.

Regardless, I'll keep plugging on sending my CV out, talking to pimps and hoping beyond hope, that something comes up soon, as I'm going a bit stir crazy at the moment.

At least there are a few things going my way. I don't have cabin fever - I'm too busy to be at home that much. My fitness is going through the roof - you can bounce coins off my bum now.

I'm also thankful for the career consultant's office which I can use for job hunting. I tend to go in here a few times a week to do my job hunting. Other than it's air conditioned, it's also right in the centre of the city, so it feels like I'm "going to work", even if I'm not. It gives a great sense of continuity.

What isn't making me feel any better is a task the 12 Week Body Transformation Challenge has set me. What are my goals? What is it that I want to achieve?

Argh - I'm not good at this. In my normal state I'm a bit of a Holly Golightly. No, I'm not a Truman Capote high-end hooker - I just tend to be a bit of a drifter. A stable, over-achieving drifter, I've tended to fall into things in the past. I'm very good at falling on my feet - a lot of this is knowing that failure is not an option as there's nobody in my life other than me to support me, feed me, clothe me, keep a roof over my head. It's a bit scary, but it's true - and this doesn't lead to setting good goals - you tend to take what you can get so you know that you have money coming in.

So in this challenge, they've asked us what are goals are - mainly around diet and exercise. Oh this is all a bit confronting on many levels. For me, I know I get to about 7 kgs lighter than I am now and everything falls in a heap. This is a cycle I have to break if I want to get to my goal weight, some 29 kilos away. Thankfully, the tactic is to go 5 kgs at a time. Much more manageable, far less daunting yet it still gives me something to work towards.

They're also asking for what are your exercise goals. Okay, this one isn't so scary. I can do exercise goals as I know how to kick butt with them.

And then, on top of this, there are life goals. What is it you want to achieve?

So my poor little head is in a state of utter confusion at the moment.

I talked about this with Glen Waverley at lunch the other day. It was time for the Glen Waverley pep talk.

He's good at that.

"So, what makes a goal and what makes a dream?" I asked him. I like asking Glen Waverley such questions - he gives me a completely different perspective on things. Engineers are good for alternative views, especially as I'm the airy-fairy one.
"Goals are achieveable things - things you can set plans in place so you get what you want. Dreams are something that you'd love, but probably have no chance of getting."
"But I had a dream of going to Spain two years ago - no idea how that was going to happen - and it just did - won that trip, saved up and there I was."
"Yeah, but you're a bit of a freak of nature in that way."
"Okay, so goals are something I can set a plan for. Hmm."

We talked some more. I know he has a few dreams that I wish could come through for him.
"So, come on Pand, what are these goals and dreams?"
"Hmm, okay, running the 2012 New York Marathon. Seems like a dream to me."

Stupid thing is, I know that if I put the training in - a sensible, long term, incremental training plan - I can run a marathon (that and getting my right knee able to tolerate impact again). I just want to do the New York one because I want to spend some more time in New York as well as go see Reindert and Corazon. I have the airmiles to go there as well. I can save up.

"You've proven that's a goal. What else?" Glen Waverley asked.
"I have a goal of buying a new to me car by April."
"That will be achieveable once you have a job."
"You've got the plan together."
"What else?"
"Umm, maybe buying a property."
"What's stopping you?"
"Well, for starters, not having a job, not having quite enough equity.."

I teared up at this stage. This is big block of mine. The biggest reason I don't own property - there is nobody else to live in it with me. Simple as that - I've never wanted to own property without somebody else in there. Friends and family have tried to convince me to look at it as an investment - I just see a place that I have to live in alone - and it hurts to much. I know in my head that isn't the case - but I just have to get my heart and gut to believe it.

Glen Waverley let that one go.
"Okay, next goal."
"Well, get a job by the end of February."
"You'll do that."
"Should do, if the cardigan-wearing bureaucracy get their act together. If not, something else will turn up."
"Okay. What about dreams. What are your dreams?"

I now about a few of Glen Waverley's dreams - but they are his and not for me to discuss here. I know owning a Porsche as his primary vehicle is one of them - but Merijn won't let him.
"And you Pand - what are these dreams of yours?"
"What, other than to be the next JK Rowling?"
"Yes. And I know that you can make the writing a goal, not a dream."

Hmmm. He overestimates me.

"Getting married is a dream of mine."
"That's a goal, Pand."
"It's a dream."
"Nope, it's a goal."

We had the dream/goal argument as we walked back to his office. I think he's wrong here. Effing Engineers.

What do they know?