Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fixing the Broken

Today I had the first massage in about ten weeks. The last one I had was in Bali on the day I ended up with a bad cold the next day. I'm sure it wasn't the massage's fault I got sick.

It's been ten weeks since I've had a massage.

Oh boy - did I need it. It was time to put the last of Humpty Dumpty back together again.This was the icing on the cake.

The massage was well overdue.

First up, I'm suffering from a light case of Tennis Elbow. Yeah, Tennis Elbow - and I hate tennis! How did that happen? Seriously, I think tennis is pointless. To end up with Tennis Elbow is just cruel.

My right forearm has been aching off and on for a while now. Strangely, it never twigged that every time I went to light the oven with the lighter I'd wince. Didn't think anything of it. Getting old and all that.

Jay, my training partner picked it up in Pump the other day. Seems I was favouring my left arm. Jay's a doctor. She notices these things.

"Does it hurt to grip things?" she asked.
"Yeah. Pinching, gripping, lugging groceries."
"Forearm hurting."
"How do you know?"
"It's tennis elbow. Ha ha. That takes forever to get rid of."
"Thanks, Jay."

Two minutes later I was given a remedy. Get a strap for my arm. Voltaren Gel four times a day. Take the load off of my arm. Learn some stretches to get the muscle moving, Don't use my oven lighter - use matches.

The next day, said strap and Voltaren were purchased. I worked out quickly that the strap can't be done up too tightly or my arm goes blue.

Won't do that again. Blue is not a fetching colour for skin.

Anwya, today, I got a massage. Thankfully I was in to see Pete. Normally I see Marta, but it was her weekend off. Marta is great for relaxation. Pete is good if you want the crap pummeled out of you.

Pete's turned me on to leg massages. I won't let Marta touch my legs - well quads to be exact. Pete can play me like a violin.

We had our pre-massage chat. Have I been stressed? Yes. Anything aching? My right arm. Anything else? Starting a new role Monday which I'm excited about - but generally just been hanging out for a massage. I also told him about the last job and the implications to my mental state.

"This is going to be interesting, isn't it?" I asked.

You can't ever doubt the magic of healing hands. Pete started on my back and I wanted to cry.

I've been having a monthly massage for a reason. Many years ago, back before I was into exercise, my back was like concrete. I wore my shoulders up around my ears. It wasn't pleasant.

Working on my spine, I could feel the pent up stress gently releasing. I wanted to cry - just to let everything that's happened finally go. A day at the Peninsula Hot Springs helped a lot. Walking everywhere for a week, averaging 10 kms a day has helped greatly too - gentle exercise is the best. Going shopping has helped - but having Pete strip the last of the stress away - magic.

We found some knotty bits. Your glutes (bum muscles) are often the home of stored up stress. My bum was found to be rock hard (Seems something was causing a pain the bum - quite literally). Traps (Shoulders) - concrete (contributing to the tennis elbow). My neck a mess.

"That will learn you." smirked Pete at the end of the session. "Don't leave it that long again."
"No, Pete."
"I have to go rest my hands now - it's no fun  massaging concrete."
"Of course, Pete. But you enjoyed making me yelp."
"If you didn't leave it so long, you wouldn't have yelped so much."
"Indeed, Pete."

I'm booked in again in a fortnight to address the arm again - and again in three weeks - with orders to keep tending to the arm. Strap it, lots of Voltaren. Support it. No carrying groceries. Use matches when lighting the oven.

The moral of the story - don't let your troubles make you forget about your upkeep. My monthly massage keeps my body, mind and spirit in order. Being stressed should have made me go seek a massage more often - not less often.

It's a lesson I wont be forgetting in a hurry.

(image from Facebook - Unlimited Bodywork)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Time Out

After the debacle that was my last contract, it was time for some necessary time out to recuperate.

So, I took another lost weekend on the weekend just gone - which turned out to be one of the better things I could have done for myself.

Getting away was crucial. A change of scenery was needed - so I booked a ticket to Sydney on frequent flyer points. I could have just booked a room in Melbourne, but I had the need to really get away. Also, there was a couple of things at the Art Gallery I wanted to see - but mainly I wanted out of Melbourne. I also booked a cheap room at a favourite hotel - where the bed and bath were big and inviting, the hallways quiet and it's nice and close to transport. Done.

The airport trip was uneventful. The wait for the plane nothing out of the ordinary. I did my normal trick of sitting in the seat behind the one I was supposed to be in. After two minutes I relocated to my allocated seat.

"Aye, what are you doing here?" came the question from the aisle as I was finally settling.

Jayden - Pump Instructor extraordinaire and Qantas Trolly Dolly, oops, cabin crew was standing over me. I love bumping into him on flights - especially as this is what my tray table looks like after the seatbelt sign goes off.

So the day got off to a good start.

Arriving in Sydney, I made my way to my hotel.  Contraband gin in my back pack, no agenda to speak of. I checked in, dumped my bag, went up Pitt Street to find some lunch, then went to the Art Gallery to check out the Bill Henson display, interested in his photography when he's not skirting the borders of paedophilia. (Clouds - excellent)

It was starting to rain after a while, so I made my way back to the hotel, picking up some snacks and a bottle of tonic on the way. And then I settled in for the night.

There's something very decadent about spending some time with yourself in a strange city - and something very healing.

The rooms at the Westin are brilliant. I love that there is a glass wall between the bathroom and the bedroom, so you can sit in the bath and watch television. Or read a book. Or just lay back and listen to music.

The overnight stay did  the trick. I woke the next morning feeling the most refreshed I've felt in weeks.

Allegedly it rained over night. I wasn't aware of this - but it did look a bit murky outside when I took a peek out into the atrium the next morning.

The next morning, after yet another bubble bath (the bath tub was abused a bit during my stay) I got up and checked out by 10 am as I was meant to be catching up with a friend. Alas, that didn't happen, my friend was waylaid, so I went off to the airport and hung out in the Qantas Lounge for an hour or so, using a pass that Millie suggested I always keep on myself. Have to say, it's a very civilised way to spend an hour at the airport. Free coffee, a light lunch, a bit of peace and quiet - you can't ask for much more.

A non-event of a flight home, stopped in at Blarney and Barney's on the way home and got fed dinner (along with a cuddle from the Maow Maow) and I was home.

The rest and relaxation continued into Monday. Without a job to go to, I knew that a real day off was required. As Jonella is also between jobs at the moment, starting a new role later in the week, we decided to go up to the Dandenongs for lunch.

A grand idea - especially as the Dandenongs are only an hours drive away. I was looking to go to the Peninsula Hot Springs, but Jonella's Mum, who also came with us, wanted to be back for her grand daughter's ballet concert.

I'll go to the hot springs in a few day time.

Lunch was taken at Miss Marples Tea Rooms in Sassafras. A lovely meal of a pasty and salad (the pasty still inferior to the ones you get in Adelaide, but still a good effort). It's the perfect place to go for lunch on a week day - it's near on impossible to get in on the weekend.

Jonella and I visited the teapot shop next door after lunch. Jonella is a bit of a tea freak. Me, I just loved being shoved in a shop where I could use all my senses.

It took all of my strength not to walk out with most of the shop - instead, I just came out with a coffee mug with my name on it.

After a good browse, we joined Jonella's mum, Chrissy, at the local toy shop - another place you should never send me as I never want to leave.

As Chrissy and Jonella sourced presents for Chrissy's grandkids, I was given a marionette to play with - an amazing likeness of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I'll never make a puppeteer, but I appreciated the workmanship in this amazing creature - and even got her shaking hands, walking and nodding in approval.

After a while, once the purchases were made, we made our way to Kallista to the tea rooms there for the required coffee and cake to sustain us for the ride home. Having been so cold lately, sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and ice cream really hit the spot.

The views from the windows didn't disappoint either. We got to watch the locals as our coffee and cake went down.

(I take anybody who's visiting to the Kallista Tea Rooms - the birds that hang out in the tree outside are astounding)

We got home at the required time - Chrissy made her grand daughter's recital and I got back in time to go see Slap.

The best thing is, I'm beginning to feel rested and restored after two months of stress.

I'm ready to start the next steps in my journey.

Taking a few days off is all a part of the plan.

(Photo credits - all from my trusty iPhone)

Thursday, June 20, 2013


We had book group Tuesday night.

Allegedly, I'm back.

Jonella noticed it first. "This is the first time in two months that I've seen you smile. The light is back behind your eyes. That's wonderful."

And I feel like I'm back. I've forgotten what it's been like to smile and bounce around like Tigger like I normally do. You see, bouncing is what Tigger's do best.

Well, this is how I used to bounce around before I started this job and descended into this twilight world where the sun felt like it had been taken out of my life.

And now, on the precipice of being between contracts, I'm aware that I've been tackling a touch of depression - but I really do feel like I've turned the corner. I really don't bounce when I'm down. Or smile much. Or sing. Or write (I've missed writing) But I do function well. I'm just not me when I'm not smiling and singing and bouncing and laughing. But I'm coming back.

It's a good sign.

With one day left on this contract and being left along to finish some work in peace and quiet for the week, I'm getting there quickly.

Finally, I know that I can go back to the Masons and do ritual and not feel like I'm going to pollute the place with my negative energy. I'm aware that I have the energy to go forward and face any challenge what ever it may be.

This is bloody marvellous.

I even found myself singing in Federation Square on Tuesday night after Book Group.

See, there is this tree of lights in the middle of the square and it lights up when you sing at it.

I struggled to think of a song to sing at the tree. Like I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but I was willing to give it a go. Other people were singing at the tree too, so it's not like I was the only lunatic about on the night.

I mean, what do you sing at a tree made of lights? A tree that's in the middle of a public place in the middle of the city?

You sing the song that you sing at your personal trainer when he's making you do things you don't want to do - which in my case is rope flicks.

I hope the tree liked my rendition of a Myponga favourite.

See, told you I was on the way back.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Mental Health Day

Any regular reader of this blog has probably twigged that I've not been having a great time at work of late.

And I haven't. It's been quite frankly revolting - though I won't say a bad word about my team who are great. It's just a hostile, toxic environment and after a lot of consideration, I put in my resignation the other day to see me out of there at the end of the month.

It's been bad enough to stop me writing and drain the joy out of my normally happy spirit. It's not a good place to be.

Thing is, after yet another stress filled day at the coal face yesterday, once again having strips torn off me by the department boss for alleged non-performance, once again ending up feeling like I was the most incompetent, useless person who'd completely misrepresented myself at the interview, it was decided among the bosses that I should leave there and then. Oh yes, adding insult to injury, I'm told that I should harden up as well. He want the sweet and bubbly person he saw at the interview back - my answer for which is how can you be sweet and bubbly when you're in an environment where everybody is feeling knives to their back.

Great. A months worth of work to get through in a fortnight and they're another team member down. That was my first thought.

The last time I was spoken to like this was back in the day I worked in a department store with a draconian, Victorian boss. Different modus operandi, miserable and trapped - maybe this it why the current situation is rankling so much.

Then after going for a coffee with my team manager to get some air and talk this out (with his full sympathies, as he's had issues with this person) I come back to the next manager up the line wanting a talk with me.

I like this fellow a lot. He's a good bloke. I explained the situation - that I've been miserable, that I find the environment toxic, that how anybody gets anything done in such a hostile environment amazing, that my confidence had been knocked and that the tasks to be done were insurmountable. And that I resent being told to "Harden Up." I also said that in me leaving - what ever my incompetences - would leave the team even more exposed. He and I came to the agreement, saying he could find no problem with my work, that I'd take the rest of the day off, come back Monday, blast through what I could for the next week and leave next Friday. He would also keep me out of the firing line of the other guy.
Fine for me. Better for the team.

So, for the first time in my history - I'm having a mental health day, purely for my mental health reasons.

I'll cope next week. It's five days with a senior manager's protection. It will be fine.

But for today - I've had a lovely quiet one.

Last night, after I left work, came in, had some dinner, I went to the gym. Thankfully, it was Slap night last night - off to see the trainer. 45 minutes spent throwing heavy things around and belting the crap out of things really helped. After three tabata rounds with the punching bag, I think it was pretty dead. "Have I killed it yet, Slap?" I'd ask him after each sweat dripping round.

"Nearly." he'd smile back at me. "Go back and kill it some more."

Slap knows that I used to train with one of Lennox Lewis's old trainers in London. Boxing is my go to stress reliever. I've got a session up my sleeve with Erdin, another one of the trainers who specialises in boxing. I swap website text for boxing lessons. I think I'll need it. Taking your anger, stress and resentment out on something that won't yell back is a good thing.

I left feeling much better.

(image from

And so to today. I woke to a monster headache - not surprisingly.

A morning spent reading in bed, a lunchtime Pump class, lunch with Jay, more reading and now I'm off to dinner with Pinochet and the girls from the gym for a catch up.

The rest of the weekend has me having a nice girlie day with some friends tomorrow, maybe a movie and a christening party for a friend's daughter. Should be nice.

It was only the other day I was mentioning to a friend that I was sick of having to be a hard nut all the time  - that I wanted to be soft and gentle for a change - to not have to gird my loins every time I stepped into the door at work. To not feel the urge to give some expletive driven rant to the guy who told me to "Harden up."

Things don't have to be like this.

And I'm looking for my next role. I have the list of requirements - something I neglected to investigate in this last role. It looks like this:

  • Great people
  • Interesting, challenging work with defined scope
  • Good money
  • City based
  • Work life balance
  • Mid-large sized company
  • Good management
  • Fun, diverse, interesting team
  • 6-12 month contract
My last role at Sparks and Ladders ticked all these boxes.

Lets hope, like last time I left a contract early, I manifest this sort of role again - that this dreadful work experience is ending so I can find something great. I'm putting it out there.

It's not until you've witnessed the bad do you really appreciate how good the good can be.

Monday, June 10, 2013


There are lots of things they don't tell you when you're growing up.

And there's lots of things that nobody is ever going to tell you. Ever. You just have to work them out for yourself - of if you're really lucky, somebody might let you know about some of these pearls of wisdom and you'll get set on the straight an narrow.

There are other things that you are told, take no notice of, and then finally, after years of parroting these catechisms, you work out what they really mean.

"God helps those who help themselves." Been saying it for years.

The words that have stuck with me is. "God takes care of his own," and "Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself". All good stuff.

This week I've spent a bit of time reflecting of faith - and responsibility. The real meaning behind these sayings.

As a child, I was sent off to Sunday School at the local church. I'm not sure why - my parents didn't go to church, though they would both call themselves "Methodist" or "Christian" on official forms.

Sunday school meant spending the first half hour in the little white church in Myponga and another half hour in the church hall next door where we did games and bible lessons and other banal things like that. I attended Sunday School until I was sixteen (when it had gone from Sunday School to youth group.)

What did I get out of this? Not much really. I know the Lord's Prayer and the ten commandments. I've got a Christian work ethic. I like to think that I take care of people.

So I gave back my Christian ticket  many years ago,  but still have faith that God, the universe, Yahweh, what every you wish to call the deity some believe runs the place - and I still believe that personal responsibility is the key to this. If you take responsibility for your actions, you will be rewarded in kind.

A couple of times this rang true - so very true in this difficult week of adjustments.

Sitting with a gym friend talking about the joys of making changes. She's been a little upset after Pump class on Sunday - tossing about the joys of resigning from a role she took on after leaving a stable job in a large corporation last year. I agreed to meet her after the gym for dinner to talk about her resigning.

"You can't be on your own tonight." I told her
"Nah, I always have the teddy bears."
"Not the same. It's night's like this when you need to be with people. It's all a bit scary, but you've taken responsibility - you will be rewarded for it."
"You sound very sure of yourself."
"Never surer."

There were other reasons for meeting this friend and not leaving her to the company of her teddy bears.

She's a part of the single woman's network.

What they don't tell you when you're a little girl is that some women don't grow up to get married and have children. Some women find themselves on their own in the world. And they need to find their own support network. Like minded people who are in the same boat - intelligent, professional, single women who find themselves banding together. An easy alliance of friendship in and support.

We had a great talk that night, me and my gym mate. She's on her way - much happier for removing herself from a role where she was unhappy.

The meeting with my friend rallied me to do something about my own situation. Unhappy in my current role, I've made a decision, at last.

Now it's just a matter of having a bit of faith, taking some responsibility, using my networks and getting on with things.

Maybe that this what all this faith stuff is about. Just having the courage to get through life.

It's going to be an interesting few weeks.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Suppository of all Useless Knowledge

Just as one should never go into battle with a Sicilian when death is on the line (Vizzini, The Princess Bride), on should never go into a game of Trivial Pursuit with Pandora when ice cream is on the line.

For I am the Suppository of all Useless Knowledge. With a semi-photographic memory.

These factors make me a gun at Trivial Pursuit.

People shudder when going up against me on Quiz Nights. I know a heap of crap about all sorts of things.

Like a fartlek is Swedish for "speed play.'

That Tristram Shandy was the first novel in English ever written.

One of Shakespeare's most misquoted lines is "Alas, poor Yorrick, I know him Horatio."  It is not, "Alas, poor Yorrick, I knew him well' ! Philostines.!

H, He, Li, Be, B, C, N,O,F, Ne, Na, Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Cl, Ar, K, Ca.... The first twenty elements of the periodic table - thanks Mr Mundy for embedding this useless bit of knowledge in my brain for eternity - loved Matriculation Chemistry.

Chicken don't have teeth.  Badger's willies have a bone. Dogs allegedly see in black and white.

That the head of Burke and Wills have never been found - once they left the Dig Tree and died, their bodies were savaged by dingoes.

William Carlos Williams' poem 'The Red Wheelbarrow" is one of the most studied in the world - because it is short. Second to this one is Donne's, "The Sick Rose', also chosen by students because of it's brevity.

Audrey Hepburn was Belgian.

Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein.... which is sorta strange in an ironic sport of way.

John Howard's middle name is Winston - which is probably the coolest thing about him. He and Stanley Bruce are the only sitting Prime Ministers to be voted out at an election - and a bloody good thing at was too.

I love useless facts.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Contracting and the Princess Bride

The week from hell ended on a really good note. A much better Friday, reconciliation with my manager so that we're on the same page, a productive day, an informative coffee with an old friend - all of this meant that a little bit of faith had been in my place of work (not that much, but I didn't feel like dry retching on entering the building). I also got to leave at five on the dot, go straight home where I met up with Gloria for a feets session and a spot of dinner. After that, I made my way to the local cinema and took in The Great Gatsby.

I know that there's a lot of detractors of the film, but I reckon Baz got it right. Tobey Maguire made a wonderful Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan was an ethereal Daisy and Leonardo Di Caprio was everything you'd expect from Gatsby and more. It did help that I read the book last week - and I reckon before you take on this film, get a copy and have a read. It's only 160 pages long - and it will make a lot of sense of a few things in the script that do grate a bit - but if you're read the book you'll find out that most of the words spoken in the film are present on the page. I like that. The sets, the costumes and the cinematography will put this in the Oscars. Definitely worth a look - but do read the book first.

Anyway, this morning, after meditation and a planning session with one of my Elks friends for the Most 'Orrible Property Committee, I had a strange thought. I get these now and then.

Contracting - or Consulting, is very much like the Princess Bride.

For those who haven't met me, or worked with me, you may not know how much I love "The Princess Bride". It's wonderful. In my last job there were four of us who could quote great chunks of it. Most of my friends can go into "Princess Bride Mode" at the mention of R.O.U.Ses, the Six Fingered Man, Prince Humperdinck and the use of a Holocaust Cloak.

But it really got me thinking, especially after the dire week I had last week. Contracting and the Princess Bride are very much aligned.

And this is why.

1. You end up saying, "As you wish." a lot of the time, even when you don't want to. And what happens in the movie often happens to you. (As you wish never means what it does in the movie either)

2. Workplaces often end up like some of the places the hapless trio end up. This one especially.

3. You often end up in battles you don't feel like fighting. 

(Everybody knows that you don't go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line. There are a lot of people like this about.)

4. Sometimes your work environment takes a bit of getting used to. And the locals are not always friendly.

5. It can take a while to get used to everybody's agendas. And when you find them out, it's not that great.

6. On the really bad days it can feel like your soul is being sucked away.

7. You might be called upon to be to be really creative in the face of adversity. And collaborate.

8. You may find yourself among very vocal detractors who cannot see the value of having your around.

9. Where you thought you were going isn't where you finally end up. It's about expectation management.

10. And there are times where you are required to perform miracles.

What do you reckon? One in the same?

I think I want to go watch this again. One of the best films ever made. It is life on celluloid.

(I'll leave you with Mandy Patinkin, who played Inigo Montoya. This interview made me cry. He's got it in one. Princess Bride fans, if you watch one video, make it this one.)