Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Much Excitement about Feets

I really love feets. I love feets, not in a kinky way, but I love feets all the same. Feets are wonderful. Feets support us. Feets are our connection to the earth. Feets are just lovely. Feets, like beer, are my friend. I particularly love clean feets that don't smell that much that aren't all crusty. Soft feets are the best.


Because I am a reflexologist in my spare time. I get to play with lots of feets. If you don't love feet, you'll never make a good reflexologist. Reflexologists tend to call them feets - rather than feet. One feet, two feets. None of this popular, one foot, two feet. It's feets - it makes them sound a lot more fun than they really are.

Reflexologists have a language of their own. We do feet swaps (Where one reflexologist treats another and then vice versa - also known as a contra), we talk about meridians and crunchies and hot spots and cracklings and caterpillars. Not that we can talk to the outside world like that. If we did, we'd be locked up.

Also, reflexology isn't something that's widely practiced in Australia. In Europe, it has a wide and well known following. In Asia it is commonplace. In Australia, tell somebody you're a reflexologist and they run a mile thinking you're going to poke something up their rectal cavity with a sharp stick.

Reflexology is my preferred modality. When I practice, I tend to mix it in with a bit of reiki and reference point therapy for good measure - and with very good results. I've been working on friends for years with this combined method with some wonderful results. Reflexology is guaranteed to relax and rejuvenate - I've never had an unhappy client.

And after eleven years, I have found a decent reflexologist - in Melbourne! And there is much rejoicing around the place. A hell of a lot of rejoicing.

It all started at work last week, another word nerd on the project and I were talking whilst making a cup of tea. I asked Jonella what she did the evening before and it turned out she did a feet swap. My eyes lit up.

"You're a reflexologist?!"
"You know what a feet swap is?!"
"Of course - I'm a reflexologist too!"

And we jumped and danced around the kitchen like a midget on the Spinal Tap set. I said that there was much rejoicing.

It's like finding the Promised Land after forty years in the wilderness.

Jonella is my work buddy. We're quite similar in may ways - both in our early forties, word nerds, having worked all around the city and travelled over the world. We've both got eclectic tastes and have a rather pragmatic view of the world - and we're both reflexologists. Yippee!

Another thing that alternative therapists won't tell you. Most of us will only get a treatment as a contra - gaining a treatment by working on another practitioner - we're all a bit tight like that. Over the years I've searched high and low for a reflexologist to do contras with. I rather begrudgingly pay for a monthly massage off an excellent massage therapist - it keeps me sane and balanced, but reflexology - finding a reflexologist to contra with was like finding Tony Abbott's human side or Julia Gillard's charm - next to impossible. I've never payed for feets treatments. I don't know of a sane reflexologist who would. When I left London, I left all my foot friends behind - and it's a bit hard to travel so far for a foot session.

I've contra'd out my reflexology skills for all sorts of things over the years - dinner, having my tax done, reiki sessions, having the odd piece of clothing taken in, you know - the odd jobs that people do on the side. My favorite contra buddy is my personal trainer - I swap massages and feet sessions for personal training on a regular basis. The barter system is alive and well.

Anyway, Jonella and I made an appointment for last night for the contra.

We found out that we work very differently - but this is not a bad thing. Jonella's a by-the-book reflexologist with an excellent way about her. Me - I work with energetics - picking up all sorts of things about her, much to Jonella's amazement. "How do you know that?" she'd yelp?

"Inverted little toenail....pouching on the arch....crunchy bit here..... hot spot there." After fifteen years of practice I've seen a lot of feet - and I'm very intuitive. I can normally tell what your bowel motions and menstrual cycle are doing. I know if you have your wisdom teeth, tonsils and appendix. I know about old broken bone, propensitiy for chest and bladder infections. I know when you need an eye test or if you had grommits in your ears as a kid. There is no hiding. All of this can be a bit confronting if you've never experienced this - but I mean no harm - and the information goes no further than the treatment room.

After the treatment, we swapped. I got my feets done. Pandora was in BLISS!

We related war stories. When I learned reflexology, I was taught by a mad Liverpudlian in London. The first test we had was to kiss our client's big toe. You have to remember that you ask your client to wash their feet before you start, after which you go over them with antibacterial wipes. They're just a bit of skin. Jonella blanched at this - then I asked her to think about all the places her mouth had been. She blushed, then agreed that there was a good point to that. My Liverpudlian teacher's thought behind this was if you couldn't kiss, or indeed bite a big toe of a clean foot, you had no business being a reflexologist.

And when you think about it - washed and wiped, what is the difference between kissing a foot or kissing a mouth?
After the treatment, both of us were all smooshie - reflexologist term for very relaxed.
I slept like a baby last night - almost a perfect night sleep. This morning I woke with a slight headache - common after a treatment - it normally means that there's a bit of a healing crisis going on. Speaking to Jonella later in the day she said the same thing - great sleep, a little whooshy (another reflexology term)
Most of all, we're both greatful we've found a very rare commodity in Melbourne.
Another Feets person.
There will be more rejoicing same time, next month.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Life Lessons

I've been dealt a few life lessons of late, hence being quiet on the blogging. This is not a bad thing - life is fine, but I've found I've needed a bit if time out of late to ponder these rather major lessons. I've also been racing around like a blue bottomed fly for the last two weeks - it's made making time for writing really difficult.

So, what have a I learned in the last ten days?

Children's Hospitals are modelled on the eighth level of hell. Dante tells of the place where the fraudulent go, a placed that can only be reached by a winged creature down a steep ravine. The Royal Children's Hospital at 10.30 pm feels like such a place. One of Blarney's boys was in again with a bad chest cold - the only place for a little tacker who can't breathe that well. I got a call from Blarney after Masons on Monday, telling me that she was with Chance at the RCH. She also told me that she'd gone there straight from work and was a bit glum. Being a good friend, I raced home to collect some supplies for her - a toothbrush, toothpaste, some moisturiser, leggings and t-shirt, some dry shampoo and a pair of orange underpants. These along with a few stray magazines were taken to the hospital, where Blarney would wait for me at the McDonald's downstairs.

I can't be the only person who finds it strange that there is a McDonalds in the ground floor hospital of the Children's Hospital.

Regardless, arriving at 10.30 p.m., the main doors are all locked - the only way in is through the Emergency Department, which is badly sign posted and hard to get to being off the main road, down a ramp, around the corner and two storeys down in the hospital basement. It truly felt like I was descending into some Dante-esque oblivion. At least the gate keeper, a nice male nurse, gave me clear directions when I finally got there. The waiting room of the mmergency department was a flurry of sobs and shusshes - frazzled parents and even more frazzled children. Awful place.

Ten minutes later I find her, cup of tea drained, looking a bit ragged. We go up to the ward to see Chance. He's in the same ward as last time. He's in with the same thing as last time. Nothing life threatening, but in need of a bit of help to get him through. He's snoring like a steam train. That's a good sign.

"Never going to keep a girlfriend snoring like that, Little Mate." I tell him quietly, careful not to wake him. He looks like a normal little boy (or man for that matter - ever noticed that men look like little boys when they sleep?) just with a nasal canula taped to his face and a monitor strapped to his foot are the only anomilies.

Blarney looks around. "I could cope with this place if it wasn't for the bogans. The kid in the next bed has been having regular heart attacks. She's two. The other kid's mother is a drug addict. During the day the social worker is here. Both of them get fed McDonald's food. They're two."

"You realise how lucky you are, don't you."

She nods. Blarney is lucky. Her boys are ostensibly healthy - just being born early their lungs take a walloping when they get a cold. Nothing a day or so in hospital won't fix and they should grow out of it soon. Blarney also knows that her boys are going to have every opportunity to grow and live and enjoy a happy, healthy life. Not every child is that lucky.

I pass over the care package, showing her the items I'd brought for her.

"Orange underpants?" She questions. We're of a similar size. And yes, they're freshly laundered.

"Yep. How can you not have fun wearing orange underpants?"

I think her smile was the first genuine one I'd seen since I'd seen her two nights before when I was dropping the cat back.

I left the hospital twenty minutes later, absolutely drained. It's not a fun place. It's a place that reeks of illness and death and shattered dreams. I also know that it's a place where miracles happen as well to negate some of this bad stuff - but all I feel is the loss and sadness when I go there. I'm just thankful that Chance is now back to normal and that the time they spend there is minimal.

Life Lesson One: A small amount of gentle humour can go a very long way in most circumstances.

Life Lesson Two: Blessings can be found in the most awful of places. You have to look for them. Or look at what is going on around you to work out how blessed you are.

The next lessons have been found at work.

Bastard Bank has extended my contract for another three months. I can't complain about this. The consultancy will be happy. I'm fine where I am. The natives are friendly and the work is good when you can get through the bureacracy.

Yet I have been wondering about this work thing and the role the consultancy plays. I found myself at lunch in a boardroom full of men midweek. Standard catered sandwiches and party fare, cans of soft drink and a fruit platter. Anybody in corporate Australia knows this as the standard catered lunch.

I'm wearing a suit. My handshake meets that of the managing director and the rest of the board as confidently as the rest of the men in the room. I can hold my own. I'm a professional.

Yet I wonder, who is this woman? Why are they talking to me like an adult? Like somebody who knows what they are doing... I still don't get how people see me as this corporate flunky, but it appears it's the persona I take on at work. Hard working, professional, competent.

I had a similar reaction from another colleague later that afternoon. She was asking for my opinion on something. This is something I'm only just getting used to. I'm used to doing a good job and keeping under the radar. It seems I'm sticking out a bit more, for good reasons, of late. Another conversation with yet another friend had me meeting a similar comparison. I told her about the consultancy I was with to which she said ,"Oh, they only take on the best. I've been in the business for ten years - you only get top flight people from there." I was gobsmacked.

Life Lesson Three: How we perceive ourselves is not always how the world sees us.

This weekend has been lovely and quiet. Lots of exercise and a bit of cleaning thrown in for good measure. A trip the the naturopath has me back on herbs for blood pressure - herbs which taste a bit like a mix of dirt and compost. The mix might taste like crap, but it is good for me. Anything to keep me off the poisons the regular doctor will try and feed me. She's also made me swear off sugar, artificial sweetener and to give a wheat free diet a try to see if that makes any difference. My naturopath is a killjoy. She's also a realist. I've been told to give it a go and see if it helps bring my blood pressure down and my flagging energy levels up. If things don't get better quickly then I'll be encouraged to go back to the quack.

Speaking of pills, I've also been feeding another friend's cats this weekend - one lovely, but rather decrepit Burman and the fattest orange tomcat you'll ever meet. The Burman needs a pill twice a day. My friend gave me instructions the other night on how to use the cat pill giverer contraption - an item that looked like a large syringe. After two feeds I've worked out that shoving the pill down his throat with my finger was far easier, kinder and less problematic.

The cat is a junkie. He knows what's good for him, pill syringe or finger, it gets the job done.

Life lesson four: Medicine, in what ever form it comes in, may be revolting, but it is there to help. However it is administered. You have to trust the process.

The last lessons were learned at beer club. I popped in for the evening, catching up with a few old friends. Which is always good. I skulked home a few hours later, two beers down me.

I like beer. Beer keeps me honest. It makes me look at my life honestly - a bit too honestly at times.

Life lesson five: Beer is my friend.

Another friend was at beer club. One who I rarely see or speak to any more. We were once close but time and circumstances have deemed we have limited contact now. It's for the best. We're not the same people any more. It's not that we aren't friends any more, we just don't spend time together. It's not worth pushing it. Too much has happened. Glen Waverley brought it up at lunch the other day. I told him to leave it. Not worth pursuing. I can't go back there. There was too much pain associated with him. This loose friendship is all I can hope for and all I want. I'm better on the path I'm on now.

I can look at him now and no longer feel any remorse.

Life lesson six. Letting go is often the kindest thing to do when it comes to friendship. It's also the most humane for all concerned.

It's been a big week.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stuff I Think About in Meetings

Meetings are the pimple on the boil on the butt of my life. Of my least favorite things, meetings are up there with John Howard, green beans, people who are nasty to children and animals,lasagne and bananas.

Working at Bastard Bank, I get to be in my fair share of meetings. I should be pleased I'm not a project manager or some sort of executive who appeart to live their lives in meetings. Being a plebby word nerd, I tend to lose around an hour a day to them on average. Some days I will be in meetings half the day. Other days there will be just one or two of the buggers to waste my time.

Meetings at which I'm an active participant I'm fine with too. These are normally the ones that I call, where I'll sit down with a programmer or some other road blocker for half an hour and hash things out. These are practical meetings. Meetings which take up half an hour or less - these are the good ones. They tend to get things done.

The meetings I really object to are the ones where you are invited to as fodder. "Oh, I thought you'd be interested..." is what comes from the convenor when you ask about your attendance because they need to make up numbers. There are also the meetings that Ah-sole convenes. I go running to my Project Manager to ask if I can skive off - normally to be told that somebody needs to keep and eye on him.Or the meeting at which your attendance is mandatory. This includes the extended weekly group meeting where one of the team will present a document and you, along with the rest of the team have to sit there whilst the upper echelons of the project discuss the matter at hand. There are hours of my life I will never get back. I really don't need to know about the stupidity and bitch fights of the executive committee - but I've been privy to all of this information.

However, this time in these fodder meetings - this is when some of my best thinking gets done. I deliberately leave my iPhone in my handbag back at my desk because playing Angry Birds whilst the boss is talking is bad form. I have my notebook and a pen. Good for jotting things down. But as a rule, while we're having these boredom sessions. And I get to thing.

I put on my best serious face and turn inward for a good thing. Fodder meetings are the lavatory of the workplace. You best thinking gets done when you're supposed to be concentrating on something else.

So, what do I think about when I'm in meetings.

Shopping lists.

The great thing about the note pad is that you can make cryptic notes about what you need at the supermarket that evening. If you're clever, it can even look like your taking notes. Some grilled eggplant here, a little feta cheese there, a notation that the test plan for the next release will be due out in a fortnight, milk, loo paper, tampons and the fact that Biggus Wiggus is now running the Under Architecture group.

It's great. You get back to your desk, rip the page out of your notebook and hope that you don't have to go find a Business Analyst with documenation skills at Coles later on.

Counting things.

Like the dentist's office where you count ceiling tiles and blackheads on your dentist's nose, dull meetings give you a chance to count stuff. How many facial tics will Eurotrash Intellectual succumb to in five minutes? How many top buttons does Ah-sole have undone? How many times does Hot Scouser check his phone in the meeting (Normally around 25 times) How many stains are on the Test Lead's cuff. How many earrings does Maggie have in her left ear. (I got to Eleven last count)

I haven't said much about Maggie yet. Maggie is an enigma. Probably around my age, she really knows her stuff. Like Margaret Thatcher, she is queen of the 1000 mile stare, has a voice with no discernable modulations and she never draws breath. She's a nice person, but she scares the hell out of me. She also has eleven earrings in her left ear.


Meetings are a great place to fantasise. I can't be the only one who daydreams about Hot Scouser in meetings. Or take myself off to another place normally involving Clive Owen, an oversized bathtub and a jar of nutella. Surely I can't be the only one who uses time in a semi-darkened room to do some inner happy time. Hands, of course, stay on the desk, normally writing the odd word from conversations, normally with a smile lurking at the corner of my mouth.

Plan my evenings

Monday - Masons, Tuesday, Gym, Wednesday Dream group.... meetings provide a perfect time to work out logistics - along with what you're having for dinner, what you might have to do in between work and what ever your doing, planning training and the like. It's a bit of time back for you.


With the screen showing some banal pie chart or table, the mind can go to far more interesting places. With your serious, "I'm interested" face on, your mind wanders to better places . As you feel the caress a large, soft, gentle hand across your cheek, the darkened room hides your blushes. You can concentrate hard on your note pad as that hand travels southward to your... oh you get the picture....

Where I want to Travel to Next

Ah, where will my perfect holiday be, away from this dull meeting room and this dreadful presentation that I really don't give a flying f*ck about. Oh, meetings let me plan holidays. Of course there is the New York Marathon next year, and maybe Bali at Xmas. Oh and if I win the lottery, I'd love to go to the Maldives and back to the UK to have a good look at Wales and the south... And then there are all the places in Australia I'd love to go...

But most of all, when I'm in boring meetings, I think about sex.

Oh, the other thing I think about when I'm in boring meetings - am I the only one in the room thinking about sex?

Will have to file this one under "just a bit wrong."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Random Lyric Long Weekend - Part Deux

Another long weekend. Another blitz on Facebook of random lyrics. This is my silly little facebook foible that I do on a long weekend. The last one in March was really successful, so I decided to do it again.Gives me something more to think about than work and shoving stuff on ebay.

As before, I got some great comments on my page - however, it appears most of my musical prowess is firmly entrenched in the eighties and nineties. I'm getting old.

Here was this long weekend's selection - with full links to the songs on YouTube.

Friday Evening. 10.43 pm

"Shall we have each other for tea, shall we have each other with cream.."

The Love Cats - The Cure

A bit of a testement to the fact that I have the Maow Maow for what was the weekend, but now it appears he's staying until Friday as Blarney and Barney are stuck in Tasmania due to the ash cloud. I saw The Cure in concert a few year ago. Robert Smith has been in a good paddock. They're still good and this song has good memories of the mid-eighties. Oh, and Robert Smith still has the "Flock of Seagulls" haircut.

Saturday, 9.20 am

"Whaddaya think you doo, eh, why you looking so sad, itsa not so bad...."

Joe Dolce - Shuddapa ya Face

Had to be done. Just had to be done. I haven't heard this for years. I do know that one of the best songs of the eighties was pipped by number one on the charts because of this wonderful ditty that most people over thirty in Australia can sing word for word. Midge Ure of Ultravox has never lived this down. (Vienna - what a song!) Have a look at the clip - Molly Meldrum makes a great Italian waiter on the accordian - just wish he'd paint is bloody front fence down the road.

Saturday, 2.09 pm

"Chopping wood won't stop the rage, We need targets on war we wage..."

Morcheeba, Part of the Process

Seriously, this is one of my favorite songs ever produced. Seriously naff clip for a seriously wonderful song. Rather pertinant at the moment with all the crap that's flying around at the moment. The lead singer has a fantastic voice. Really underated band.

Saturday, 8.13 pm

...systematically stepping on my head...

Crowded House, Sister Madly

This one's for my friend Bernadette, Crowded House's Number One fan. This got stuck in my head after hearing it in a shopping centre - but I really do like the band. The clip is a rather bittersweet though as the drummer, Paul Hester, took his own life in a bayside park a few years ago. Still, they're as tight as and thankfully this clip expound what this song is all about.

Sunday, 1.15 pm

"Inflamation of the foreskin, reminds me of your smile..."

Monty Python, The Medical Love Song

Ah bless. More of my badly spent youth. Love it, love it, love it! I sing this to myself to cheer myself up. Yes, it's filthy and peurile and dreadful - and it reminds me that Graham Chapman, the doctor of the group (Brian from the Life of Brian) died too, too young. But it still makes me laugh.

While going through you tube, I also found this little lovely from the Flying Circus - which had me chuckling for hours. Only the British can get away with this. So un-PC it's probably playing daily on New Zealand television.

Sunday, 7.41 pm

"Someday I'll have a disappearing hair line, and some day I'll wear pyjamas in the daytime, ooohhh, the afternoons, will be measured out, measured with coffee spoons."

Crash Test Dummies - Afternoons and Coffeespoons

More of my youth, this time from London and a wonderful share house I lived in at West Hampstead. This song is also a paraphrasing of my favorite poem, TS Eliot's "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock". Daft thing is that I know everybody who know's this song - and indeed, this album, does a really bad imitation of the lead singer. Intelligent music, just wish he didn't have that  drunk footy player at a wedding voice on him.

Sunday, 10.09 pm

"I hope the smoking man's in this one.."

Barenaked Ladies - One Week

Another feel good song that for years I never knew the name of the band or the song. Most people know the lyrics know the "Chickety China the Chinese Chicken..." bit , but I like the bit about the Smoking Man. Always like the Smoking Man in that show. (Another song with the X Files reference is in the Bloodhound Gang's Bad Touch - where it goes something about doing it doggy style so we can watch X-Files) Sorta dates me, I know.

Monday, 9.22 am

"Some day somebody else besides me will call me by my stage name..."

They Might be Giants, Dr Worm

This one is for Glen Waverley. He HATES this song - mainly because I used to sing it to him when he was looking stressed. Thing is, I can't really sing that well and it sounds even more ridiculous. Other silly thing, I know many, many people, who like me, love this song - another cheer up song.

Monday, 6.43 pm

"I don't believe in an interventionist God, but darling, I know you do."

Nick Cave, Into my Arms

I was late in finding Nick Cave. He, like Ben Lee, are some of the best that Australia has produced in the music scene. I really do need to investigate his music more. Like Ben Lee, I love everything I hear of his. Like Leonard Cohen, most of it is music to slit your wrists by, but I still like it. Dark, moody, intelligent - what more do you need?

Monday, 10.40 om

"I said "I want to be a singer like Lou Reed."

The Pixies, I've Been Tired

It wouldn't be a Random Lyric Long Weekend  without a song by the Pixies. The perfect way to finish off a Random Lyric Long weekend.

The only bastard - the next Long weekend we're due isn't until Christmas! Argh.

A Letter to Seb

There's been a lot of talk about dealing with baggage of late. It would be remiss of me if I didn't clear some of my own.

Being a long weekend, I've managed to put a heap of stuff on ebay, send a bag down to St Vincents, do a bit of tidying and get things ready for what looks like a busy week. As Ah-Sole, my work nemesis, is being let go at the end of the month (yes, the Project Manager saw sense) my workload is about to increase so it's a good chance to do all this and have a bit of a rest before all hell breaks loose .

Then comes the other junk that has to be dealt with. The hard stuff.

Something came up last night which gave me something to sort. And sort quickly.

Whilst chatting to a friend on facebook last night I did a bit of looking around, as you do. I'm no cyber-stalker, but there are times, once in a blue moon, when I'll have a quick look around and see who's about from my past - just look, I'd never contact the people involved. I'm not the sort to make too many waves.

So last night, I tapped in the name, Sebastian Smith, not thinking that anything would come, but there he was on facebook, small child on his hip, smiling for the camera. Current location, Sydney, Australia.

Sebastian, or Seb, is the only man I've shared a home with. Three torturous months in a North London share house. Twenty years ago. Once I left the flat we remained in contact - a sort of friends with benefits arrangement - for another three years, seeing each other fairly regularly until we both moved house away from the district. The last time I saw him was on a tube platform in 1997.

With all the navel gazing I do, I almost never revisit the Sebastian years, or the relationship with Sebastian, even though he was the guy who was in my life the longest. Some of it has been effectively blocked out - and the rest I'm pretty comfortable with. It wasn't a good time. It wasn't a great relationship. He no longer blights my psyche. It wasn't him. It wasn't me - it was just never meant to be.

Besides the arguments, the acrimony, the not wanting to go home, the tears and the tantrums, there were good things about Seb. He could be kind, he could be funny. He was really intelligent. And despite the torturous relationship, he always held me while sleeping - which looking back, was lovely - and probably the thing I remember about him most fondly. He's also the reason I fell into banking, discovered the Pixies and the Violent Femmes - so I have that to thank him for.

I spent the rest of my last night having a chat to my former self. My twenty-four-year old, tortured, miserable, prickly self. We needed to have a chat. Over the past ten years, inner child work has really helped me. This time it was more work with my inner young adult - time to get to the bottom of some stuff. The poor girl was a wreck - but we had a great chat. A lot of it was talking of the future - soothing her frayed nerves, giving her something to look forward to. It was okay. There was no need for tears.

But to clear the last of Sebastian, I thought of writing him a letter - more to clear my own head than to reach out to him. What would I say to him? What would I want to say?

Well, here goes.

Dear Seb,

It's over fifteen years since we last saw each other and this is very out of the blue. I've often wondered where you ended up. Last time I saw you, you were still talking of returning to South Africa - though from the gamut of South African friends over here, it seems to have become less a viable option. To see you're in Sydney - hope you've made it home. From the photo, you look happy. Cute child.

I rarely think of what happened twenty years ago - there isn't much point in rehashing the past. It wasn't a good time and there was a heap of stuff going on that I had really no idea about. But I will get to that later.

Since seeing you last - from memory that was somewhere around the mid-nineties, lots has changed. I now live in Melbourne. I now work in IT as a Technical Writer, Quality Analyst and sometimes Change Analyst - yeah, go figure - me who hated computers. I've had short stories published. I've travelled the world a couple of times over. My proudest moment have been running a couple of half marathons - yeah, I know, go figure that one too and starting to get my writing out there. I've never married and I have no kids - but I see this as a good thing as well.

After wracking my brains, wondering what I would want to say to you, all I could come up with is to say sorry. Sorry that you had to know me when you did and sorry for what I must have put you through. Undiagnosed depression is a bitch - I have to apologise for having to submit you to that. I know I was a nightmare to live with. I had no idea what was going on - I think you had more of an idea but there was no way out then. Thankfully, after some great help, sought too late in some ways, but just in time in others, the worst of that is under control. I'll always have to manage the depression - but at least it's now under control and recognised. It makes me a lot nicer to be around.

Of my life now - I'm content enough. I have a great friends, a good lifestyle, lots of variety and travel. For a woman in her forties I can appreciate it for what it is. It's a freedom I didn't have in my twenties. The ability to take on opportunities.

I don't dwell on what would have happened if things were different - I'm not even looking to get back in contact. I just needed to get that off my chest.

May life be treating you well - from the photo, you look happy - and you really can't ask for any more than that.

Best wishes,


I will never send this to Seb. I know that I was contacted by an ex-flame seeking forgiveness for the stuff he put me through as he was in the middle of a 12 step program for sex addiction. I flung back an email which read "Thank you for your email. Now fuck off and never contact me again." Seems I'm willing to forgive some, but not others. This bloke was a complete waste of space.

As I said, I don't want to make waves. I did ping him a small message which read "I occasionally pondered where you ended up. I can see that you look happy. Cute kid."

I think that I've laid the ghost of Seb to rest. I feel at peace.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Of Tarot and Teflon

There are rules of tarot reading that cannot be broken.

The first one is never to make grand statements around bad things. You never tell anybody that they're going to get horribly sick or that somebody close to them is going to die. Never. There are are ways of delivering what appears to be bad news. Telling somebody their granny is about to die just aint on. What if they don't? What if it's the other granny? What if nothing happens? What if they get cancer. Tarot readers shouldn't make large negative statements - ever.

The second big rule of tarot reading is when one of your own issues comes up in a reading, do not shy away from looking at what is going on - after the reading is done. You're there for the client. You can deal with your issues later. You have a responsibility to yourself to look at your own crap as well as helping others to sift through their stuff.

The third rule of tarot reading is to always self-protect. Do not take other people's issues on as your own. Acknowledge their pain and suffering, but do not take it on board. It's their pain to deal with - not your own. You can empathise, offer guidance, provide alternatives, but you do not take on other people's pain and suffering and wear it like a lapel pin. Techniques to avoid this crap transference can involve techniques including white lighting, setting up a sacred space to work in, reiki empowerment or in my case, I recite the teflon prayer ("I'm made of teflon - no crap sticks to me". Repeat regularly - it works).

The last big rule of tarot reading is that you never give advice when reading, per se, but provide alternative routes if you can. And if it's all too much - out of your league, realise this, take the time to gently recommend professional help if it's what the cards are indicating - offering no diagnosis, blame or shame, what ever help that may be. This is not copping out. This is being responsible - knowing your boundaries and abilities and recognising that the person you are reading for could benefit from some more guided, pointed, professional help help could be the difference between years of misery and a life which gets back on track quicker.

Thing is, these tarot rules translate easily into four life lessons.
1) Look at things in the positive - giving things a negative slant gets you nowhere.
2) Meet your demons head on and quickly - take responsibility for them sooner rather than later.
3) Put yourself first. Until you are okay, you can't give to others. Never put yourself last as its proof of how you value yourself.
4) Rather than suffer, seek help. Recognise you have a problem and do something about it.

So here I sit as a part of a group of people trying to lose weight. I have a wonderful online support group - absolutely fantastic people. There are a number of groups I'm alligned to. There's the girls from the 12wbt that I know through the Biggest Loser Club - magic people and great friends - they've become a part of my daily life and I'm blessed to have them there. There's the people from the 12wbt that arrange activities that I keep an eye on - great for finding extra boxing classes and people to do runs with.

And there's a couple of other weight loss groups, larger groups, which I'm part of with people at every stage of the journey - from depression, denial, bargaining, anger right through to acceptance.

Eh, I've heard that list somewhere before.

Yes. One of the common elements, the elephant in the room that is rarely acknowledged, is that the psychological side of weight loss is very alligned to the grieving process.

You see it time and time again.

Working through the issues of what is really going on, whether it be dealing with a long undiagnosed or unrecognised depression cycle (Tim Tams are my friend - really they are! Tim Tams make me happy.), to the bargaining moves some of us do (if I go for a ten minute walk that will get rid of the Tim Tam I just ate) to the anger many of us feel and subsequently turn towards themselves (I hate Tim Tams and I'm never going to have one again) to the denial that a lot of us divert to, whether we admit it or not (What me, eat Tim Tams! Never!) to the final acceptance of the real issues (Hello, my name is Tammy and I am a Tim Tam addict. It's been three weeks since my last Tim Tam).

I'm trying to not light of something that's far more serious, but to show a point.

Unfortunately, there really isn't a state which encompasses fat and happy.

Being overweight is just a very long process of grieving.

For many of us who've been blighted by obesity, we've tried for years to hide our pain through a sunny disposition, a wisecrack and the willingness to be invisible. Nobody's pain is exactly the same, but we can all empathise. For those who've been overweight - and not just a couple of kilos, but very overweight, will know what it feels like to be pointed at in the street, have car horns blare at you, to be asked how far your pregnancy is going along, have clothes split at the seems, to walk into a shop and know that nothing will fit, the eyes of the size 8 shop assistant staring at you as if you were dog poo on your shoe. You avoid public transport for fearing not fitting in the seats. You avoid going to bars for fear of being barked at. (And yes, most of these things have happened to me in the past, and yes, it's crap)

Most of us can also recognise the behaviour patterns that come out when stressed or emotional.

When my aunt passed away the other week I turned to my old friend ice cream. Ice cream doesn't make judgements. Ice cream doesn't care if you want ot be completely antisocial. Ice cream, for a minute or two takes the pain away. I'm pleased to also say that in turning to ice cream, I went the one paddle pop route, not two tubs of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia - which I would have done in the past.

I acknowledge the behaviour pattern. I chose to give in to the ice cream, but I also chose to not damage myself and my compromise my weight loss too badly by taking a lesser route. I also made sure to look at why I was doing what I was doing, feeling the pain, knowing full well that these hurts were spiritual and made the choice not to let things spiral further. I'm not perfect by any means, but  my actions were far less self-destructive than in the past.

Which is why I've found myself stepping way from these groups for a while.

To see the pain and frustration on a daily basis is difficult for me. I want to help. I want to give advice. Sometimes I want to slap a few people over the head and yell "STOP BEING SO STUPID! STOP RUNNING AWAY AND TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY - GET HELP!". Other people, I just wish I could pick up and cuddle, wishing there was a fairy with a magic want to take their woes away. Other people I look at and I see a former version of myself. In denial, depressed, scared, angry - wanting for things to change and helpless to do so. These people are the hardest ones of me to look at.

I look at them and I want to ask why they are avoiding getting real assistance? I want to tell them to start changing their thought processes. I want to tell them that this can be a very long process. What they think they want to do in changing their bodies will make everything better is wrong and that changing the inside is the only way to make things better.

And how do I know this. Ten years in and out of very good, focussed therapy - and the knowledge that I'm still a work in process - physically, mentally and emotionally. Also knowing that all of the work I've done has made me far, far more happier with myself and my body. I'm certainly not perfect, but I know that when I take full responsibility for my thoughts and actions I feel a lot more in control. I also know when I reach a point where I have to go seek help - and I seek it quickly. But generally, I'm okay. I'm not the happiest person on the planet, things aren't perfect, but I'm okay. It took me forty years to realise this.

Looking back at all this, I'm not made of teflon - which is why I'm giving the online forums a wide berth for the while. Some stuff that really belongs to other people does stick. Some stuff really does hurt and some stuff makes me despair about not only the person in pain, but myself.

But at least the teflon coating makes it easier to wash away.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pandora the Heartless

I have one small glitch in my normally compassionate make up. I'm patient with kids and old people, I fawn over cats and dogs and horses and most animals, I come to the aid of lost travellers and people who've fallen down in the street (as long as they don't smell too bad). I donate to charity. I'm a co-freemason. I organise a book group. I crochet blankets for friends who are having babies (oops that reminds me...)

But there is one thing on this planet that really tests my patience.

I don't like rabbits. (Kath Lockett  look away now - mind you, Skipper was a great rabbit - I will give you that)

Actually, make that two things. I don't like chooks either. (Hens / Chickens / Fowls if you come from outside Australia)

Rabbits and chooks are low down in the food chain. Both make good eating. Both, like their vegetable equivalent, the zucchini (courgette if you're outside Australia) are reasonably pointless - though chooks do make eggs - but that doesn't stop them being pointless beasts.

I would never be cruel to a rabbit or a chook. I would never harm a rabbit or a chook. Both are sorta cute from a distance. But Tasmanian devils and rhinos and crocodiles are cute from a distance too.

If a friend asked me to feed their prize bunny or hen while they were on holiday, I would - of course. But rabbits just don't float my boat.

I remember a friend of mine giving me her children's pet bunny to pat.

"Go on, you love animals." she said, handing the bundle over.
"This isn't an animal. It's modified vermin." I thought to myself.

She asked what I thought.

All I could come up with was "current sauce and akubras".

See, disliking rabbits gets you into trouble.

Problem is, I was raised in the country.

I have fond memories of being a kid, going out at night with the boys from next door, sit on the back of the ute with a spotlight in the back scrub watching Spud and Boog shoot them.(The boys next door had real names, but like all good country boys they went by a silly moniker)

It took me a long time to realise that lead shot wasn't part of what makes up the flavour of rabbit.

I was also raised in the country in a country where in 1859 some bright spark named Thomas Austin from Geelong brought in 24 rabbits from England so he could go shooting. The "little blighters escaped" and from there his 24 breeding rabbits started an infestation that wiped out the natural flora and fauna as completely as the English exterminated the Tasmanian Aboriginals.

It finally took an insidious disease called myxomatosis, an awful, awful disease that basically eats the rabbit from the inside out, to rid the country of 95 % of the 800 million rabbits. However the other five percent seemed to be immune and lives on and bred but at a much reduce rate. Myxo also lives on, in mutant strains. Witnessing a rabbit with myxomatosis was a common sight as a kid. People's pet rabbits caught mxyo as well. No rabbit is truly immune. It hits all rabbits from the Peter Rabbit bunny in the paddock to the prize chinchilla that's bread to show at the rabbit version of Crufts.

You never want to see a rabbit with myxomatosis. It's truly dreadful.

So I've got the block when it comes to bunnies. There was one on Bondi Vet which Dr Chris ended up giving mouth to mouth to just before it shook this mortal coil. How come you never see cats and dogs die on that show - but they'll let a bunny go? For me, emotionally engaging was impossible. I normally sit here watching Bondi Vet with tears in my eyes. But this poor white rabbit, unfortunately mutilated - all I could think was "Why aren't you putting the poor thing down?"

Call me heartless. Call me pragmatic. Maybe in a former life I was tortured by bunnies before they burned me on the stake.

I just don't get what the fuss about rabbits is.

Though MoMo does them well with a current sauce and quince stuffing....

One day I'll tell you my chook stories. I know that my dislike for the domestic hen is the stuff of elongated childhood trauma.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Another Stolen MeMe

I give thanks to the Plastic Mancunian for giving me this. It's something to pick over at lunchtime - and there are some pointed ones in this one.

1. Which state do you consider to be the most boring state?

I suppose being bored is the most boring state - well state of being. If you're talking Australian States - well all of them have their great bits and all of them have their boring bits. The ACT is boring, but that's a territory, not a state. I'd call Tasmania boring. It may be the most beautiful place on the planet but everybody is in bed by 10 pm - just like New Zealand.

2. If any chef from the Food Network (or any well known chef) could cater your wedding, who would it be?

I know I'd be asking Adriano Zumbo to do the cake. I'd love Gary Mehigan to cook for my wedding - as long as I could take out heart attack insurance for all of the butter he seems to use.

3. What's the last thing you ate that was red?

I had grilled capsicum on my pizza last night (home made healthy pizza that was - not the store bought crap)

4. Have you ever questioned the sexuality orientation of a close friend?

Yes. Not so strangely, we are no longer in contact - not that I ever asked him outright - and not that I care. But for ten years I was wondering - and most people who met him believed him to be "batting for the other team". When he moved back to Europe we lost track of him. Part of me believes that he's now wearing a skirt and calling himself Narelle.

5. Everyone loses a friend after some big fight. Tell us about one.

I don't really fight with people - the odd tiff and that is it. I lost a friend recently after a doozy of a fight - but we've since reaffirmed the boundaries and are back in contact. Not saying any more than that. Not worth hashing over. We were both in the wrong. And both in the right. Not that he will admit to that.

6. Have you ever washed an iPod or mp3 player in the washing machine?

No. I washed a passport once. That was an expensive mistake. Always leave a day to do your washing after a long distance trip. Saves stupid things like that happening. I might not have forgotten to check the pockets if I'd left it a day.

7. Have you ever screamed / yelled angrily at a boss?

Yes. Poor Popeye. Under-utilisation is a bitch. Who else are you supposed to take your frustration out on? The cat? That's what bosses are there for - as long as you don't make a habit of it.

8. Have you ever cried yourself to sleep?

I did so for twenty years. I don't do it any more. Thankfully I have very little to cry about now.

9. Have you ever regretted being in a relationship with someone?

Yes. Next.

10. Have you ever acted like you understood something when you didn't have a clue?

I work in IT. I am the non-technical person in an IT department. This is what I do best. I'm also very good at saying "You're so clever. I could never do that? Have a biscuit - I made them just for you." This makes up for being clueless.

11. Have you ever thought someone must have been insane? If yes, tell us something about the person.

I said it in the last question. I work in IT. Everybody is a little insane. It's all relative.

12. Have you ever pretended to be younger than what you are?

No, but I'm confused for a person who is a lot younger. I'm often going to the cinema and telling the attendant I'm 12. One time in ten they will give you a child's ticket. It's always worth a try.

13. Back in the day, did you ever cry because you were turned down for a date?

What is a date? I've forgotton. Can't remember - haven't been on one of thsie for years. I hope this changes soon.

14. Have you ever (or your significant other) had a pregnancy scare?

Unfortunately, yes. They're not good for the stress levels. They're just not good at all. Next.

15. Have you ever pretended to like someone when you didn't?

No. If I don't like somebody, I find it hard to pretend that I like them. I'll be civil. I'll interact with them - but generally I give people I don't like a wide berth and leave them to it.

16. What was the last thing you did that was totally selfish, yet you feel no guilt?

I took a box of Krispy Kreme donuts to my sister's on Monday. I pinched one more than I should have. I have no guilt about this. I know they were a gift, but I bought them (well used a voucher that was given to me).... Selfish, I know, but there is no guilt attached. I ran the donut off last night. My sister wouldn't have done that.

17. Tell us about a film fave of yours that we probably have not seen.

An Argentinian Film I saw last year - "The Secrets in their Eyes". (in Spanish "El Secreto de sus Ojos".) It won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. Superlative. But not many English speakers would have seen it. Atmospheric, dark, deep, intense - this thriller had me on the edge of my seat for most of the film. Brilliant.

18. When was the last time you kissed someone that you shouldn't have on the lips?

About three years ago. Not giving details on that one either. I was drunk. I don't do that any more. Get drunk that is. And try and kiss people.

19. When was the last time you cooked something for someone not in your family?

Two weeks ago. I had a friend down from Bathurst and another friend staying from Bendigo. I got to play Mum. I did my version of pizza (300 calories, healthy and yummy) Chicken in Pesto and Proscuitto and Steak with Mushroom sauce over the weekend. I love cooking for people.

20. When was the last time you danced like a crazy person?

Last week, I dance around like a crazy person a lot. I just don't do it in public.

21. When was the last time you just wanted to be invisible?

Two weeks ago. Coming out of a team meeting I got out of the lift and walked into a glass door on the wrong floor. I had to get back into the lift with my team - all of whom were laughing at me. Just wished the lift would swallow me up then and there.

22. When was the last time you got a gift you absolutely hated?

Oh dear, a few years ago now. Why would anybody give me a silicon cock ring? What use have I got for sex toys? Still bemuses and upsets me in equal measure.

23. When was the last time you got into a physical fight? (If NEVER, let us know about a time that you got close to a fight.)

Not so much a fight, but the last time I scared the shit out of somebody was a few years ago in a St Kilda car park. A junkie got too close - and he saw the back end of my mouth and ire - he nearly jumped me as I got out of the car - I yelled, screamed and tormented him into a corner. Scared the hell out of Blarney who was with me at the time.

24. When was the last time you had to sleep with a light on?

Bad experience in London - a heavy breathing caller in the middle of the night. Scared the living hell out of me. Woke my flatmate at the time who laughed it off - but I was there with a kitchen knife and the light on for a couple of days after that.

25. When was the last time you were under some serious stress?

Just before I left Tin Can, String and Whistle. That sucked. Thankfully it was over pretty quick.

26. When was the last time you watched your favorite movie?

A few months ago while "between jobs". Love Donnie Darko.

27. What song did you most recently downloaded?

I think that would be a Ben Lee album. I'm still hooked on CDs... showing my age, I am.

28. What would you say is your favorite hobby?

Writing - though I do that for a living. Running - that's more a lifestyle choice. Reading is my favorite hobby.

29. What is your favorite thing to do when you hang out with friends?

Watch movies and drink coffee. That's what I do when I hang out with friends.

30. What would you rather do: shower or bathe with that celebrity that you are crushing on?

Please can I throw Clive Owen in the bath. Please, please, please.

31. What is your absolute favorite dessert?

Creme Brulee. There is nothing better than a creme brulee - not that I have one very often. Ice cream is the sixth food group so that doesn't count.

32. What can someone do to make you smile, no matter what?

Give me a puppy or a kitten. That will do it. Ice cream can also help.

33. What do the hip people think of you?

Probably very little.

34. What was the last gift you bought someone?

I bought Trin a set of Affirmation Cards for her birthday. Thankfully, she claimed she loved them.

35. What was your favorite class in high school?

French. It was something I was pretty good at and something I've never lost.

36. How many spouses would be about right?

I'd like to see what one would be like. I can't be greedy. It's something I wonder about - what would it be like to be married. I have no idea.

37. What would you say was the most embarrassing moment of your life?

38. Have you ever donated money to charity?

I do so regularly. The Fred Hollows Foundation gets a monthly stipend and I do a few charity runs a year.

39. Has porn ever had a positive place in a current or recent relationship?

Other than to laugh at - no. Doesn't float my boat.

40. Would you ever dump the one you're with for someone who makes an obvious play and is MUCH hotter?

No. Looks never trump personality.

41. Have you ever disowned one of your relatives?

Nearly, but not quite. As my relatives are half way across the country they're easy to dismiss without full on disowning. I have one uncle that I haven't seen in over five years - and I'm not feeling the loss. Not that I don't want to see him, just don't feel the need. He hasn't contacted me either.

42. Would you think it's OK to cheat on someone if they've already cheated on you?

No. Cheating isn't good. If you want to screw around, get out of your relationship first. It's unfair - and this sort of tit for tat behaviour is unbecoming to all parties.

43. Did you ever consider becoming a teacher?

Yes. When I left school I wanted to be a French teacher. But I hated the way they taught French at University, so that idea went out the window. Then a few years back, I decided to leave banking and go and do a Dip Ed and teach English. That never happened either as I found IT. I think I got the better end of the deal.

44. Would you ever give a hitch-hiker a ride somewhere?

No. Just no worth it - no matter how good looking they may be.

45. Would you ever try fasting for a whole week?

It's not out of the realms of possiblility knowing some of the strange crap I get to up. But it would take a lot to commit to - and it would ahve to be under the right circumstances - like say at an ashram.

46. Would you ever try to quit one of your addictions, or better said: Bad Habits?

I stopped sucking my thumb at 33. I gave up smoking a few years ago. What is left? Picking my nose in the car? Burping after a meal. Not sure what I would give up really.
47. Could you ever kill yourself to save someone else?

I'm unsure about this one - but I think I would put myself in the line of danger for somebody I loved. Thankfully this has never been tested.
48. Does it matter if you break up with someone or have them dump you?

Nope. But getting out sooner rather than later is a good thing.

49. Would you rather have a turtle or a frog for a pet?

Neither. I'd rather have a pet that is a bit more interactive. My sister has a turtle who appears to live under a beanbag and likes to bite you. Frogs are just boring. Great for the environment, but really, they're just boring. Give me a cat or dog any day.

50. Would you rather spend a day with Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus?

Lady Ga Ga thanks. Neither overly appeal to me but at least Ga Ga is a grown up.

51. Would you rather learn to play piano or guitar?

One of my few 'regrets' is that I never learned how to play the piano. I play the flute and I can pick out a tune on a keyboard, but I wish I could play properly. Never got lessons. It's down in the when I win the lottery jobs.

52. We're going back to the day. Where did you get your kicks?

Some nightclub down Hindley Street. Long, long time ago,

53. What Asian country would you like to visit the most? Why?

I'd love to go back to Thailand. I loved it there a few years ago and the people, food, culture and scenery are wonderful. Would love to check out Japan too - fascinating culture among other things.

54. Have you ever thought that a passer-by was the one (think James Blunt, here)?

No. And why would I think about James Blunt. The guy sounds like somebody has his balls in a pair of kitchen tongs.

55. Ever told someone that your fake jewelery was really real?

No. I don't wear much jewellery, and the real stuff I have, is real - and the fake stuff looks fake.

56. Where are the worst public restrooms?

There are some at the docks in Santorini that are equivalent to the seventh layer of hell. The ones at the 1000 Steps in the Dandenongs are really rank by the end of the day too - rather hang on and go to the ones at McDonalds down the road tan use them.

57. What song was the latest one that got overplayed really fast?

That crappy "Friday" song that some California Dentist's daughter paid to have made (Which was just covered on Glee). It's so bad it's catchy.

58. What Friends (American TV show from the 90s) character are you most like?

Probably Phoebe. I'm happy to have that disputed. I have some of Monica's OCD too, but I'm a bit like Phoebe.

59. When's the last time you had a Popsicle?

Three days ago - but it wasn't a Popsicle - it was a Paddle Pop. That's what they're called over here. Ice cream addict, I am.

60. What TV show from way back would you love to see reappear?

An English program called 'Drop the Dead Donkey". It was the funniest program on telly. We don't have good satire like that any more.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May Star Calendar

The Star Calendar regime continues.

May has been okay - not great, but okay.

25/31 Stars.

No Pandora bead.

Mind you, I wasn't doing too badly until last week when things went a little bit out the window when my Aunt passed. I still comfort eat - I just do it with a lot more care and grace - still, no stars - and the trip to Adelaide threw me right out with wine and other stuff I don't normally go near.

But at 83.5 kgs, a lot of running to do, an economy drive to take on board and a new lease on life, I'm looking forward to June.