Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Laundry List Meme

Well, I'm back from Bali and it appears that I may have picked up a mild case of giardia... joy. Slept most of the afternoon, which is why this is a bit late.

Question, as per normal, are from Sunday Stealing.

Do you know any couples that have been married for a very long time? 

Quite a few. Most are friends of my parents, but yes, I know of lots of successful marriages.

What are you tired of people telling you? 

In no official order - buy a house, get a full time permanent job, the grief will pass and how exercise can be bad for you.

Which type of ice cream do you prefer? 

Generally vanilla. I also love coffee ice cream and if I can get it, Maggie Beers Burnt Fig Jam and Butterscotch ice cream. Bliss.

Do you have a little sister? What’s her name? 

Yes. Her name is Sue.

What was the last movie you watched on TV? 

I caught the end of V for Vendetta last night. Love that film.

If the internet was not available right now, what would you do instead? 

I have a book I need to read for book group. I also have to finish unpacking from Bali.

Do you complain a lot? 

I try not to. I'm mindful to not complain to much. It gets you nowhere anyway.

Name a movie that your favorite actor is in. 

Alan Rickman has been a favourite of mine since Truly, Madly, Deeply.

Do you like your toes? 

Yes. Though I wish my big toenail didn't tend to ingrow regularly.

Would you rather go to an authentic haunted house or an ancient temple? 

Ancient temple - any day, every time.

Have you ever had champagne? Did you like it?

There is nothing better than French Champagne. Adore the stuff.

Are there any seashells in your room? 


What was the reason for the last time you went outside? 

I went out to drive to Blarney and Barney's for dinner this evening.

Do you like fruity or minty gum? 

Minty. I was thrilled to find doublemint gum in Bali. Love that stuff. The smell of Juicy Fruit gum always reminds me of my father.

Are you looking forward to any day of this month? 

Um, there is only a few hours left of this month. I'm looking forward to starting a new job in a week or so. And book group. That's a start.

What was the last graduation you attended? 

My own, graduating from the Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing, but that was over ten years ago.

Do you rummage through the $5 movie bin at Walmart every time? 

Um, no, we don't have Walmart here, but I do check out the sale movies at Big W when I'm there. I try not to buy.

What day of the week do you usually do laundry? 

I don't have a laundry day. I do the washing a couple of times of week.

Do you like using air fresheners? 

Not the processed ones. Happily use essential oils to flavour the air.

Are your nails ever painted red? 

Regularly and often.

When you were a baby, did you have a favorite blanket? 

Yes. I loved my Bluey.

Ever been on a cruise? 

Hell no. And I doubt I ever will.

Would you rather go to Alaska or Russia? 

Both sounds fascinating, but I think Russia wins out on this one.

Strawberries or bananas? 

Strawberries. I don't really like bananas.

Are you wearing socks? 

No. And I'm very proud of the fact that for a month, I've only really worn thongs (flip-flips / jandles) for the last six weeks only putting on shoes to go to the gym.

When’s the last time you went to the mall?

I was down at Victoria Gardens this morning to get a few supplies and have breakfast with the girls from the gym. Feeling a bit too dodgy to go to the gym however, otherwise I would have been in pump.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Good Vibrations and a State of Grace

I've been wanting to do this session for a couple of years.

In April 2013 I came to Ubud for the second time and worked out just what this place had to offer me - and what I had to offer it. This was unconditional love and acceptance and the knowledge that I'd found a community of like-minded spirits where I could just be me and not worry about being seen as anything strange.

This is a big thing when you're like me.

Why? Well, I'm a healer. Though we're normal people, we're also a bit special.

This isn't something that I talk about with everybody - but I'll do it now. See, being a healer is a somewhat lonely path. Well it can be.

Being a healer comes with all sorts  of difficulties and charms.

On the good side of things, life is magic and you can see the magic all around. There's a viewpoint that there is good and great in the world. Lovely coincidences happen all the time - I find butterflies giving me kisses and feathers falling into my hands regularly. Animals come up and talk to me a lot. Babies seem to think I'm fantastic. I take notice of beauty and I feel charged by it. I've also learned how to manifest things. It's not a perfect art, but I've learned to bring to good into my life. It's also such a privilege to  be able to work with people to take away pain - in what ever form it takes. I don't do it - I just facilitate this. The energy flows through, my role is to help direct this.

That's the good bit. On the not so good side of things, being a healer often makes me hypersensitive. I'm dreadful in crowds, loud noises and bright lights can hurt me if I'm not prepared for them. Being around angry and stressed people rubs off of me terribly, though I've learned how to self-protect - years of working in corporate environments has made that a necessity. There is also the knowledge that you can't heal the world. Every healer has to come to this knowledge in their own time. You can only do what you can.

This healer side of me is not something I talk about with people that much because you get looked at funny. These are conversations best left for when I'm with my group of like-minded folk. There's enough of us about so it's okay. Like some people have footy friends or gamer friends, I have healer friends.

Ubud also allows you to connect with and experience different modalities you'd not come into contact with in your normal lives. It was on the 2013 trip where I first got to experience Sound Medicine, something which has resonated with me ever since that first session.

On Wednesday, I went to another Sound Medicine session at the Yoga Barn. The studio was packed with around 50 people. I was a bit fried already after two Yin Yoga classes and meditation class, but I wanted to be here. Sound Medicine always restores you.

Shervin has been  running these sessions at the Yoga Barn for a few years. They're always different and always special. There was something in his introduction this time round that's stayed with me. As modern human's we are not used to hearing unfiltered sound and music - it's now all digitised, layered, filtered and distorted. Sound Medicine uses natural instruments - such as didgeridoos, drums, cymbals and wooden flutes to work their magic. Pure, unadulterated sound. Taking in these sounds is amazing.

(Anybody who's gone to see the opera, or an acoustic set in a small room knows the power of raw sound. How good does it feel, eh?)

Sound also resonates with our bodies and souls. An example, I've been using Tibetan temple bells as a diagnostic tool for years. You can hear the energies flow through the chimes. It's how you know the work is done - when the sound runs clear. Or think of how at the sound of drums you find your hips moving or toes tapping without thinking about it?

Sound is powerful. Sound is a really potent tool for healing.

Thursday morning I made my way to a hotel and holistic retreat for a private session with Shervin. I'd tried to see him when I was there two years ago but the Gods were against it. This time around, the stars aligned.

Walking through the gardens to the hotel's reception area where the session would take place, a resort  on the edge of town filled withlarge garden and bungalows, I felt at peace immediately. I had no idea what the session would happen in the session, but this had to occur. My only discomfort was the fact that it was about 30 degrees and about 90% humidity. Not a problem, Being sweaty is normal in Bali. Sweating is good for you. Purges the body.

On meeting, we walked over to the centre's treatment rooms. Shervin's space is set up with a treatment table over which tubular bells are set. Some cushions on the floor. A guitar was propped up in the corner.

After an initial chat, what followed was one of the most powerful healing sessions of my life,carried out in the gentlest way. Rather than describe it, Shervin's webpage gives a better run down than I can ever give it justice. By using the bells, tuning forks and a number of other accouterments, stress and pain left my body.

What I wasn't expecting was what went on at the other level - the images that came into my head. I do a lot of meditation, but what came before me was a path up a mountain. I was lead along by the same Blue Ganesha that I'd encountered a few days before. At the top of the mountain was a blue pool in which I bathed. No idea where that came from, but it was most wonderful.

Coming out of the session, the sense of calm was overwhelming. I can't remember feeling so peaceful and centred. It was like walking through the gardens floating on air.

I've not done this session justice here, but there are no words really. When you come into contact with something this special, it really is hard to describe.  Two days on and I'm still feeling calm and connected, even after a five hour flight with numerous screaming babies and a muck up with my gin order at the Duty Free (Now resolved - I was not leaving the airport without my Precious).

I feel so very blessed to have been able to do this. I feel blessed to be able to speak of this.

Another thing that came from this session was a more clear sense of purpose, one that I can't shake or put away. It seems my book has come to me. A book on ritual and incorporating ritual into day to day life. Whilst writing this I've been jotting notes down on Scrivener. How do we, as people, get to reincorporate meaningful ritual back into our lives? It feels right. Best go with it. I've been barraged with ideas that haven't stopped coming in. The floodgates of ideas have opened. Now to corral them and get it into being.

Floating back to town, I walked down the road to the back of the Monkey Forest. Monkeys were cavorting on the road. I reminded myself that I was safe and that no harm would come to me - they're just monkeys - it's a bit like meeting up with a kangaroo or wombat at home, the only difference is that a kangaroo won't steal your camera or try to find bugs in your hair.

I hope this state of grace remains. To be able to find this sense of peace and grounding is a blessing in itself.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Blue Ganesha and Other Things Found Within

I found out yesterday that the name Ubud means "healing" or "place of the healer".

It makes sense.

It's why I'm here.

Everybody who comes here appears to be on some sort of journey. Even the bogan Canadians who are on the Eat, Pray, Love trail upstairs were espousing the virtues of seeing Ketut, the healer from the movie (though now it's his son who does the work) They have found a driver who will come and pick them up at a whim - somebody who takes them everywhere. They're in good hands.

For me, I walk everywhere. This means that I don't go far. It also means that I'm not tied to anybody collecting me or waiting for me in the rain. Too independent. I don't move fast. I don't need to. Especially as it's been raining gently for the last day, you don't want to fall into an open drain.

Things happen on Bali time. It's good. Okay, the classes at the Yoga Barn run with a regimentation that doesn't really happen here, but for the rest of the place, things happen when they happen. Things are a bit slip shod, but that's alright. Half the people visiting are blissed out anyway, so that it doesn't really matter. There is a forgiveness over the lack of coffee creamer, a pool towel or having to wait 20 minutes for the bill to arrive. You also don't think about some of the cleaning rituals around here. What you don't know, doesn't hurt you - or it might give you the runs, but that's what Imodium is for. I took my first dose this morning. More preventative than anything else.

The enforced vegetarianism is going well despite my body screaming for some meat - just a bit of chicken would do - but I won't give in until I'm on the plane. I'm an omnivore by nature but I reckon I will try to have more vegetarian days when I get home.

This is day four of the holiday and as the healing journey goes, I'm getting somewhere despite the slightly runny tummy.

I've taken up a daily Yin Yoga session and thankfully the teacher has taken me under her wing. Yin Yoga is about release and softening. It sometimes takes you to uncomfortable places just as it sometimes releases a whole lot of stuff. The teacher, Estee, is encouraging and wonderfully helpful and makes the art of putting my body into unfamiliar positions a strange joy. I still can't see myself ever being able to braid my toes (yes - I looked at her with incredulity when she said to do this) but the alternatives are being managed now (braid the ties with the fingers of the opposite hand) and this works well. It's supposed to be good for plantar fasciaitis.

The Yoga Barn has lots of types of yoga and meditation available.

The more traditionally perceived types of yoga - Vinyasa, Hatha and Ashtanga. These appears to attract the twenty-somethings in their trendy active wear.

The less active, more calm forms of yoga have more of a mixed audience - Yin Yoga and the wonderful Yoga Nidra are two of these forms. Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation where the hardest thing to do is to stay awake. I was prodded for snoring during a class.

Meditation held the other day was interesting. The ritual was all to do with breathing. Sitting cross legged in a circle, holding hands with the people next to me (a Columbian Actress on one side - that's another story), we went through the process. When coming out of the meditation I was presented in the ether with a blue Ganesha - Hindu god of abundance. Really quite freaky, but very peaceful as well.

Another thing I'm finding with all this self-work, which really is what yoga is about - bringing everything into balance and turning the focus inward, that things are starting to clear. The anger is dissipating. I'm feeling calmer and more settled. The want to hit out has gone. It's allowing me to move forward in peace - which is really, why I came here in the first place.

Tomorrow will be really interesting. I've got an appointment with the sound healer in the morning and I'm seeing a Shamanic Astrologer tomorrow afternoon. The latter took the Yoga Nidra class yesterday and there was something that spoke to me.

My other joy - there is a puppy that hangs around the Yoga Barn. It's about three months old. It's the centre dog. I got a cuddle from this wee mite yesterday - all wet dog and puppy breath.

What do they say about the smallest of pleasures?

It's a pity I have to go back to reality on Friday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sweat, Chant, Heal

I find myself surrounded by the sounds of running water, after being woken by the crows of an errant rooster and the slight smell of smoke. There is always an undertcurrent of smoke in the air, evidence of the transformative power of fire and the fact that this is how rubbish is dealt with here.

This is Indonesia. Or more accurately, Ubud, in the hills about an hour's drive from Denpasar. Spiritual centre of the Hindu island of Bali.

I call it the Mothership.

After what was a pretty fraught end to last year, and after finding myself going slightly nutty, what with being between jobs, dealing with the death of my niece and a few other matters, I took things into my own hands and booked the trip. Six days in Ubud to retreat, regroup and try sort my head out.

It turns out this is exactly what was needed.

But unlike Elizabeth Gilbert on her journey in Eat, Pray, Love (a book that is much maligned around these parts) I think I'll call this episode of my life Sweat, Chant, Heal.

See, if it was an Eat, Pray, Love journey I'd be doing just that - but I'm not. Okay, I'm writing this at the breakfast table. Nyoman (third-born child) has brought me some lovely fruit all cut up - the only way I eat fruit. He's also placed in front of me some dreadful packaged orange juice, some toast and an omelette - the omelette, as in most Asian countries, in excellent. The coffee is local and not overly dreadful. There is no fresh milk, but the coffee creamer and a bit of sugar makes it drinkable. I need to keep my fluids up. I'm sweating for Australia, but this is a good thing too - it's all a part of the purge.

I've made a pact with myself that while I'm here I'm going to be vegetarian. Not vegan - bugger that, but I'm not eating anything with a face until I get back to Australia. Good thing eggs and tofu aren't meat. I admit that I need the protein. It's too hot to eat too much anyway. A great thing about Ubud is that the quality of the vegetarian food is phenomenal. Cheap and plentiful. It feels right.

So this is day two of my holiday/retreat.

The journey here was uneventful, discounting the transfer up to Ubud courtesy of Wayan (First born child) and his minivan which I've dubbed H&H transfers. H&H stands for "Hang on and Hope". It could also be Hell and High-Water transfers, as they will get you there by hell and high water, even if it means liberally applying the horn to passing mopeds and driving in the centre of the road at all times.

My hotel, the Amoya Inn, is a small family establishment off the Hanoman Road, located at the back of a family compound. You'd never find it if you didn't know it was there. My room is large, air-conditioned and fairly simple. The pool is just what it needed. That the place is in the middle of town, but quiet is just perfect. Gives me plenty of time to write and swim and think and heal.

I've made an appointment with a Sound Healer on Thursday - can't wait for that. For the rest of the time, I've discovered a yoga practice called Yin Yoga - which is slow and gentle and works on connective tissue - and the teacher is gorgeous and incredibly helpful and patient.

I have more to tell, but I need some sleep.

This is exactly where I need to be,

It is bliss.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Feisty Twenty Five

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Ubud in Bali. This has been a very successful first day of the trip.  I've done a yoga session, eaten healthful vegetarian food, worked out what I'm doing for the rest of he week, made a friend of a like-minded Canadian from Vancouver, been swimming and now I'm having a lovely gin and tonic as I write this.

Questions, as per normal, from Sunday Stealing.

Do you like to see it snowing outside?

Considering it only snows in the hills every five years and that rarely settles, it would be a bit of a miracle in Melbourne. I remember I loved it when I was in London on the rare occasion it occured.

Do you tell your family you love them enough?

No, but in my defense, other than my sister, my family don't use those words often.

Do you like getting jewelry or do you not wear any?

Not really, and I  don't really wear it that often. I don't think I've ever been given jewellery.

Do you watch a lot of NFL football?

I'm Australian. Of course not.

Have you ever used the word ‘lame’?

Yes. When talking about horses or footballers.

Are you/Were you in a band? If so, what was your band name?

No. Never, though I've always wanted to be in a heavy metal band called Medulla Oblongata.

When is the last time you went to the doctor?

A couple of months ago. My back was spasming. He laughed at me.

Do you own any shirts with a peace symbol on it?

No, but I have a Nirvana t-shirt. Does that count?

Would you ever go to Japan?

Absolutely. One of the next places on my list.

What was the last thing you went to Walmart for?

I'm Australian. We don't have Walmart. The last think I went to Bunnings for, which is a chain hardware store like Home depot, I was buying garden gnomes.

Ever gotten in a car accident?

Yes, but thankfully it was a minor one. Collected somebody's tow bar as they slowed down in front of me. Thankfully nobody was hurt and insurance fixed the rest of it.

Have you ever been in a choir?

Not since the Sunday School choir over thirty years ago.

Do you like the color of your eyes? If not, what color would you want them?

Yes. They're dark green. Never met anybody with my eye colour.

When was the last time you went ice skating?

When I was about ten years old. I remember hating every minute of it.

Do you like to brush your teeth?

Absolutely. Twice a day.

Have you ever had a surgery?

Yes. Arches of my feet lowered, Achilles Tendons elongated, a grown removed from my Fallopian tube  and the one we don't talk about. So four fairly minor surgeries.

Do you look older or younger than you are?

I'm told I look a lot younger than my years.

When is the next time you’ll be up on stage?

No idea. I can't see it happening unless you count convening training courses. That's a stage and that could happen at any time in the near future.

Where did you spend your last birthday?

I think I went to an information session for the writer's festival. Then dinner with a friend at a dumpling joint.

What is the last show that you watched a full episode of?

I watched an episode of The Affair on the plane over to Bali. I want to see more.

Do you know anyone who lives in Utah?

No. Why would I? I'm Australian.

Is there anything you need to work on doing soon?

Using sunscreen here in Ubud. I have a minor burn from walking about today.

Do your feelings get hurt easily?

Unfortunately, yes, but that's in major matters. In smaller slights I move on more quickly.

Do you, or do you know someone who has taken karate lessons?

Yes. Lots of people. Daft question.

Were you ever a boy or girl scout?

I was a brownie for about three months. Then we moved to the country.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ladies who Lunch

One of the problems of being at home between jobs is that you don't see many people, especially since I live alone - if I didn't go out I'd go days without speaking to anybody. I'm beginning to see how stay-at-home mums feel being at home all the time, but in raising a child, at least they have somebody to talk to.

I try and spend at least a little time with somebody every day. When I'm working, it's easy - people everywhere. When I'm not, it's a bit harder. They gym is good. I get to talk to people there. I also arrange lunch or dinner with people.

Today it was Millie's turn. Millie is currently a stay at home Mum who's about to return to work. She's in her last gasp of maternity leave and I hopefully only have a few more weeks left of holiday. Millie is also an inveterate foodie. She also writes the blog Hold the Peas.  - lunch with Millie is always an adventure.

Millie chose a restaurant in the Yarra Valley. Why not? Her daughter was in day care in preparation for when she goes back to work. I had nowhere else to be. It was a dreadfully hot day, but the car, and the restaurant, have air conditioning. I collected her on the way out to the short drive to the Yarra Valley.

We're so lucky to be able to do things like this. The Yarra Valley is one of Australia's premium wine and food areas. The valley contains a cluster of wineries, breweries and restaurants. Millie chose the venue, one Meletos just out of Coldstream.

On a day where the mercury was pipping 40 degrees Celsius, we were grateful that the restaurant was wonderfully air conditioned.

First things first., A glass of prosecco to start proceedings.

Due to the hideous heat, we decided to share a few starters rather than have a heavy meal. We balanced out the choices. Prosciutto and manchego croquettes wiith a salsa verde.

Roast quail with scordalia and nuts and a few other bits and pieces.

A duck liver parfait with toasts - my favourite savory of the day.

We also has some goats curd with local honey, which was lovely as well.

It was more than enough for a lunch on a hot day.

I'd love to come back here in autumn or winter and see what their main menu is like. The establishment has a wood fired oven for pizza and the local mains look amazing, from what we saw other diners having around the room.

After a little wait and a lovely chat, it was time to activate the dessert stomachs and have dessert.

Millie went for the trio of gelati - which was amazing:

Me, I went for the nougat semifreddo with roasted nuts and dark chocolate. It was amazing. Seriously excellent dessert.

Over dessert we discussed the fact that neither of us could stomach panacotta. It's like a wobbly boob on a plate. Neither of us want to eat that (though there is nothing wrong if you do)

Before we went home, Millie tasted a few of the ciders that they brew on the site. An interesting proposition - a bit sweet for Millie's palette and a bit dry for me.

And then we drove home - vowing to do this again soon. Great food and great company - what more could you want?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Kon Marie Con - Books

Well, the part of the KonMari challenge that I dreaded came up on Friday.

It was time to sort the books.

Disposing of books is a bit of a sore point with most writers - I'm aware of this and know the heart wrenching tug of letting a book go to find another life. It is like giving away your children.

I'll admit to not starting this process as described by Marie Kondo with the same fervor as I did with the clothes. I needed a bit more time to prepare and think about this. I also wanted to look at my relationship with the books I'd be giving away.

I have four bookcases in the flat. Two large ones and one half size one in the lounge room and one in the spare bedroom. The one in the spare bedroom contained a lot of spiritual and healing books that I've accumulated over the years. The latter was the first to be cleared. Oh yes, I also had two metre high stacks of books on the lounge room floor - there was nowhere to put them.

Hopping online to a spiritual group to which I belong, I sent out the message: free to a good homeif you pay the postage message, listing the books and their titles. A lot of books about modern day witchcraft, healing, tarot and astrology. These books had new homes by the end of the day. Most of them were posted by the end of the following day, thanks to the funds transfer capabilities of PayPal.

Thursday came. Book Day proper.

The first job was to take every book off the shelves and in the flat and put them in one place. THe lounge floor was filled to bursting.

So that was done.

The next job was to wash the dust off of all the shelves. That always feels good.

Next, pick up every book and consider - does it spark joy?

It was an interesting exercise.

Of course, the Harry Potters, Lemony Snickets and Artemis Fowls and the Shakespeares stayed. My modern literature collection stayed - think McEwan, Rushdie, Atwood and the like. Some more interesting titled stayed. The unread pile, which Kondo condones, stayed, but are on prominent display on a high shelf - a reminder to get around to reading them.

Books which passed the joy test were re-shelved by size to help conserve space - this took a long time. There are also some like with like shelves, so the writer's reference books, the kid's books and the plays and poetry are all together.

By the end of the process I had around 100 books that did not pass the joy test. They also failed some other tests I put them up to like, "Why did I buy this in the first place? and "Why have I been carting this around for 20 years?" and "Yeah, nice gift, but.." and "I really didn't enjoy reading this the first time." (Strangely, Ulysses and Moby Dick have stayed... I know they will be good for me.)

Feeling bad about the though of dumping 100 books with the Salvos, once again I turned to social media. The message went out that I was giving away some books.  A list could be provided of the books that were due for dumping - if anybody wanted them, speak up and arrange collection by Friday.

Thankfully, two thirds of the books have been re-homed.

I've also got a near empty book case in the spare room and all of the books now fit in the cases in the lounge - and they're all clean and tidy.

I'm really pleased. 

And yes, that is a Shakespeare action figure on the reference shelf. He has always sparked joy.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

They Why Do You Want to Know That Meme Part IV

Another Sunday, another meme. Not really keeping up with my blog a day January, but ah well. It's busy being on holidays.

Anyway, here's this week's meme, courtesy of Sunday Stealing.

76. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

Save 10% of your pay packet each week, no matter what. I really wish I'd taken that one on board sooner.

77. Is it easier to forgive or forget? 

Forgive - why do you want to carry that muck around with you? I say always forgive, but never forget.

78. First mobile phone? 

London in the late 1990s. It was the size of a house brick.

79. Strangest dream? 

I had a dream once where I felt sorry for Tony Abbott. That was strange.

80. Best dream? 

I really don't dream that often - anything that doesn't scare me is good.

81. Who is the smartest person you know? 

I'm lucky,I know a lot of really smart people. I reckon my friend Reindert is up there. Depends on what sort of smart you're looking for - empirically, emotionally, all rounder, educated. There are a lot of different kinds of smart.

82. Who is the prettiest person on you know? 

My niece GiGi is pretty gorgeous.

83. Do you miss anyone right now? 

Yes, my niece Lol - and somebody else, but I don't want to talk about it at the moment.

84. Who do you love? Why? 

I love Alan Rickman. I love Alan Rickman because he's not around any more. He really was the best. Smart and funny and that voice....

85. Do you like sharing? 

Yes. Makes life all the more special.

86. What was the last picture you took with your phone? 

Food shots at lunch the other day. I'll blog about that lunch sometime this week.

87. Is there a reason behind everything that happens? 

Of course. I'm a freemason - I believe this - though I don;t know why stuff happens.

88. Favorite genre of music? 

I think you'd call it alternative - though I'm rather partial to rock as well. Find below an example of alternative music:

89. If you had one word to describe yourself, what would it be? 

Kind. I like being known as being kind.

90. Describe your life in 5 words. 

Complicated, busy, creative, thought-provoking, silent.

91. Craziest thing you’ve ever done? 

Quit my job and moved to a Greek Island a few years back. Also one of the best things I've ever done.

92. First three songs in your favorite playlist?

Sympathy for the Devil - The Rolling Stones
Where is my Mind? - The Pixies
Memories and Dust - Josh Pyke

93. Are you more creative or logical? 

Creative. Not always known for logic.

94. Would you rather lie or hurt someone with the truth? 

Depends on the circumstances. I think, most of the time, the truth is best - just deliver it gently.

95. What are you most proud of? 

Running a couple of half marathons. I still look back at that in amazement.

96. What personality trait do you admire in other people? 


97. When you imagine yourself as really, really relaxed and happy, what are you doing? 


98. How do you usually start a conversation? 


99. What is the best news you could hear right now?

Donald Trump has been hit by a truck and taken a lot of the Tea Party with him.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Some Things Kept

So I'm chucking things out at a rate of knots. I'm working my way through my CDs at the moment. They've been sitting in the spare room for ever. It's time to transfer them over to the computer and leave them - but not all of them.

Some have to stay. Yes, they give me joy. There is also the thing about playing them in the car.

I'm not far through this exercise with the CDs, but here are a couple that are going nowhere.

Nirvana - Nevermind  (1991)

This is the third time I've bought this album. My first copy was stolen by an old flat mate. The second copy went walkabout. I'm keeping this one.

Seminal sounds of the nineties. It came out just as I was mioving to England. Feels like Teen Spirit was the anthem of my first year in London. It never gets old.

The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy and the Lash (1985)

This is my angry driving music. It's required listening when I'm angry as it has the ability to turn me around and make me smile again. It also makes me thankful I'm Australian where we have proper dentistry and we don't end up having Shane McGowan's teeth. Saying that, Shane McGowan survives Davie Bowie - never saw that happening either.

Great, tub-thumping music that demands that it's played loud or when you're drunk.

Love it.

The Hoodoo Gurus - Stoneage Romeos (1984)

This takes me back to Dolly Magazine, year 11 and long hot summers. It also reminds me of my youth. I can't part with this. It's too good, even though nobody really remembers The Hoodoo Gurus any more - though I believe they're playing at a Day on the Green soon.

Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense (1983)

While the rest of my school mates were into Cold Chisel and AC/DC, here I was listening to Talking Heads. Stop Making Sense. The big suit, the drum beats, the edgy lyrics. I still love them. This one will be going in the car soon.

Sting - Ten Summoner's Tales (1995)

Another album from my London days. I've always loved The Police, but Sting did so well with this album. It contains one of my most favourite songs - a song that got me into tarot. Have to keep it just for that.

Portishead - Dummy (1994)

Perennially in the car, I cant get rid of this CD. Another album that takes me back to West Hampstead, the show "This Life" and drinking a lot of beer. It doesn't get much better than this.

The Pixies - Surfer Rosa and Doolittle (Jury is out on Bossanova however)

I can't live without these. They have to stay too. How can one live without The Pixies? Here's Bowie on The Pixies.

And here is Debaser. From Doolittle. Still amazing.

I'm sure I'll be finding a few more to keep from the pile. I might also forgive myself for some of the strange things I'm finding in there as well. Gabriella Cilmi and Nerina Pallot anybody?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Why Do You Want To Know That? Meme Part 3

So I'm on holidays. Holidays mean cleaning and binge watching Brooklyn Nine Nine (which is great fun - thanks Netflix) and clean my flat.

I have at least another three weeks off - two weeks here and a week being a hippy in Bali, life is alright.

So, on to the questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

50. What do you spend most of your money on?

Three things: Rent, bills and tuition. Tuition keeps going up - which is not good.

51. Would you rather visit the past or the future? 

I think I'd rather visit the past. I like to keep the future a surprise. There are a few things I'd love to approach differently.

52. Favorite clothing store? 

Dream Diva. They sell stylish big girl clothes that are good and funky.

53. What is the best advice you can give to those who are feeling down? 

Go for a walk or go to the gym. Get moving. Endorphins are great.

54. How often do you think about your future? Does it scare you? 

Often. And yes, it scares me.

55. What angers you the most? 

Injustice, misogyny, racism, ignorance. Most of the actions of the Australian Federal Government.

56. When was the last time you got majorly angry? 

Yesterday. Don't really want to talk about it.

57. When was the last time you got really sad? 

My niece died about three weeks ago. It's been a bit of a roller coaster since then.

58. Are you good at lying? 

Depends what I'm lying about. I'm good with white lies - I don't do the bigger ones - not worth it.

59. What foreign language would you like to learn? 

I'd love to get my school girl French and make it fluent. I'd also love to learn Spanish.

60. How many languages can you speak and what are they? 

I've got reasonable French, plus a bit of Spanish, Italian and Greek under my belt - just tourist language, but it gets me places.

61. How often do you go to parties? If you don’t, what do you do instead? 

I rarely go to parties. Too old for that.

62. What books do you plan to read this year? 

I read a lot - managed over thirty books last year. On my list there are things like Orwell's 1984, Yanagihara's, A Little Life, a lot more David Mitchell and Louis De Bernieres.

63. Do you have breakfast every morning? 

Yes, Can't go without breakfast, though normally it's a protein shake.

64. Tell us a secret. 

No. It wouldn't be a secret then.

65. How many concerts have you been to? 

Lots over the years. The first one I went to was Elton John with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The last one I went to was the Pixies at Festering Hall.

66. Last hug? 

Yesterday. Was not having a good day yesterday. A friend talked me off the ledge (metaphorically) last night, but I was in need of hugs yesterday.

67. Who knows you better than anyone else? 

Maow Maow. He knows all there is to know.

68. Baths or showers? 

Both. I only have a shower at home, but I love a bath.

69. Do you think you’re ambitious? 

Not overly, but I do have an ambitious side, especially with my writing.

70. What song is stuck in your head? 

Something daft found when as I'm copying over my CDs onto my laptop.

71. Countries you’ve visited? 

Let me see, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Greece, Spain, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Germany, The UK, Ireland, The United States. That's not too bad, but there should be more.

72. What do you most value in your friends? 

Loyalty and kindness. A sense of humour and intelligence are up there too.

73. What helps you to sleep better? 

Having somebody else in the house. Strange, but I always sleep better when somebody else is around. Unfortunately that is not often.

74. What is the most money you have ever held in your hand? 

I've worked in banks for a long time. In my Lehman Brothers days it was not uncommon to have cheques for over a hundred million US dollars in my hands - unfortunately that wasn't my money...

75. What makes you nervous?

Anything to do with huntsmen spiders or Donald Trump.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The KonMari Con - Shoe Day

After yesterday's clothing binge, today was the day to go through the shoes.

All forty pairs of them.

It feels a bit excessive to own forty pairs of shoes. Ridiculous even.

They were hunted out of every nook and cranny.

The KonMari principles were applied. Did the shoes bring me joy?

Anything with a heel over three inches high makes me walk like a bad transvestite. They were ditched into the Salvos bag.

Anything I can't remember wearing, or can't remember wearing in over five years. The Salvos have them now.

Anything strappy that cant be done up easily. Gone.

And why did I possess seven pairs of thongs (flip flops if you're British / Shower Shoes for the Americans / Jandles if your  Kiwi) in various colours. The ones I wear stayed, three others were placed in the Salvos bag. One pair went into the trash.

Now there are 28 pairs lounging in the wardrobe. I'm happy to say that I regularly, and joyfully wear 20 pairs of them. The other eight I either love (my old Doc Martens - good for going on protests in) my sparkly things (dress up thongs - who knew?) and the old blue Naots (the most comfortable and less daggy Birkenstocks - must wear more often), are still having thoughts about (The brown boots and the spangly Birkenstocks) or are needed for special things (The white shoes are needed for Masons)

So that makes it eleven bags of stuff that I don't need that's left the flat.

Can't wait to see what happens when I go through the books...

The one thing this whole process is really bringing home is really - how much stuff do we need? Also, how much of this stuff is wasted? And how much money has been spent on all of this.

It's a sobering lesson.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The KonMari Con - Clothes Day

I'd taken the time to have a think about what needed to be done today. It's been scaring me from the outset. I'm trying to keep to Marie Kondo's principles and this took a bit to get my head around.

I've been talking about the Kondo effect in the last few posts. Marie Kondo is a Japanese Clutter Buster. I would also add that she's an OCD nutcase with a bit of a God Complex. Her book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" was a bit of a puzzling read. My friends and family found it hilarious that I was reading such a tome - I'm the untidiest person most people know.

Kondo's advice, first up, is when tidying up, start with your clothes.

A week after finishing the book, I was ready to start the journey.

What she recommends is that you place every piece of clothing you own in a space - in my case, the lounge room. Then sort the clothes into piles:
  • Tops
  • Bottoms
  • Hanging stuff (Dresses, suits, etc)
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Bags
  • Accessories
  • Clothes for Specific Events
  • Shoes
Okay, I'll be doing the shoes tomorrow, and I've already done the bags. This was the result.

Once this is done, the next task is to go through every piece of clothing and ask yourself, "Does this give me joy?"

This sounds a bit strange, but the rationale is, if this is something you want in your life, it will serve you well. If you don't receive any joy, out it goes. In my case, this means the clothes have been moved down to the local Salvation Army depot and Anglicare Bin in East Melbourne.

As strange as this sounds, it appears to have worked.

Seven large garbage bags of perfectly wearable clothes have left the flat today.

Even stranger, the method of asking, "Does it give me joy?" appears to work well. (Note, with work clothes I see joy as making me look professional and being comfortable). She advocates talking to your clothes.

I found some of my conversations were, "What was I thinking!", "I haven't missed your for a number of years.", "You can go and make somebody else happy and warm." and "I wore you to the Merrill Lynch Ball in 2003 - I don't think I need you in my life any more."

I also threw out about 30 pairs of stockings and tights - I only wear them under duress. They perish when they get old. 

I will add, I've also got a storage filled with "skinny clothes" that I love and that bring me joy parked under the bed. These are clothes that I really want to wear again one day - I just need to lose some weight. Marie Kondo probably wont like this. She also wont like that I didn't talk to my socks while I was putting them away.

So, a day later, I have four empty drawers and there is room to move in my wardrobe - and I feel wonderful. And thanks to Marie Kondo, I can find stuff - park them in the draw vertically - short sleeved tees up one end, long sleeved tees up the other. The wardrobe is sorted from short to long. I also go rid of almost every shirt I possessed. They don't give me joy. They give me no room in the shoulders and gape at my breasts. I don't need that in my life.

I feel a lot lighter and I'm really proud of my days achievements.

The next thing on the list - books. Whereas the clothes sorting wasn't that hard, shedding books is going to be excruciating. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Film Review: Youth

Something I love about Michael Caine. He only had one accent. It doesn't matter whether he's playing a Jack the Lad or the boss of a spy agency, or in this case, a retired composer and conductor - he has the same accent.

Youth is a sumptuous lobster dinner of a film. You drink it in with your eyes before you really understand what you're taking in. Only afterwards, when you're walking out of the cinema does the full emotional impact of the film hit you.

The story is simple. Fred Bellinger (Caine) a retired composer and conductor is on holiday with his screenwriter best friend (Harvey Keitel) and his daughter (Rachel Weisz) when he receives a request from the Queen to perform at Prince Phillip's birthday celebrations.What follows is a gentle investigation into all of the character's pasts, presents and futures.

As the movie progresses, a sea of minor characters give Caine and Keitel a  backdrop to bounce against. Paul Dano's movie start, who appears to have done his seminal work being the most notable. Jane Fonda's cameo also steals the movie. These characters give a tableau feel to the film.

Sounds a bit vague. It is. There is a bit of Peter Greenaway in Paul Sorrentino's direction. Set in the Swiss Alps the setting is exquisite. This could be Michael Caine's swan song - another theme taken on in the film. The magic of the film is that works on an emotional level for the most part. Making this happen is the soundtrack, which is as eclectic as it is bizarre. All sorts of genres are covered over this film primarily about a musician.

What I loved most about this film is that it never told you what to think or feel, it just placed the story in front of your to make up your own mind. Lavish, expansive and quirky, it's worth hunting out.

It's on limited release around Australia at present - go to the cinemas not playing Star Wars.

Monday, January 4, 2016


The call came though around 4 p.m. My phone, as usual, was on silent. The vibrations stirred me from my light sleep. Emily Bitto's "The Strays" was perched next to me, a worthy conspirator.

"Hello?" I mumbled.
"Hello? Is that Pandora Behr?" The voice is bright and over confident.

Mr Sunshine on the other end of the phone was a recruitment consultant. Would I be interested in taking on a Business Analyst / Training role.

"Thanks for thinking of me, MrSunshine. I'm taking a month off."
"A month off? You're not looking for work?"
"No, sorry. I've had a death in the family. I worked 48 weeks last year  - two of the weeks I had off I was really sick. I need a holiday."
"Oh. Well I'll make a note to give you a call at the end of the January, see if we can give you a hand getting a job."
"Thanks. Bye."

I've had three of these calls in the last ten days, which is a nice thing. I'm always very pleasant to recruitment consultants - you never know when you might need them to get your a job.

What's been most surprising is my own reaction to these calls. I'm wondering why I feel guilty for saying that I'm taking a break.

Stupid thing is, I need a break. I have to have to have a break. I'm exhausted. This is the first week where I haven't had to be somewhere under rather stressful circumstances (Christmas and funerals are rather stressful) I just want to sit and crochet and read and not talk to people.

The other thing I've noticed. I don't want to talk about my niece at the moment. After nine months where every day I was forced to think about the horrors of what the poor kid was going through, talking to friends about what she was going through, now that she's passed, I want a bit of this time back.

A lovely friend called to chat tonight. She lives interstate, we don't talk often - once or twice a year. A mutual friend had told her about what had happened.

And I found myself talking about it all - again.

I hate to think what my sister and brother-in-law are going through on a daily basis. These conversations are draining.

People have been most kind and most wonderful, but as I was telling my friend tonight, we all process these things differently. I turn inward. I do a lot of talking with close friends, but I do my grieving by myself. And we talked more about what went down to my niece in the last nine months.

Maybe this is the anger stage of grief. I'm over talking. I don't want to process this with people any more. I'm sick of feeling like a bit of a side show.

Life goes on. I just want to get on with it. Or piss off to Bali for a fortnight.

It's a tempting thought.

All I know is I feel like I have to justify every action at the moment, even though my head knows that this is not the case.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The This Year Meme

Well, the Kon Marie process has started. Although I'm not starting on my clothes yet, I've had a good chuck out of erroneous crap from my spare room. A boot full of stuff went to Georgie and Thom's this afternoon (Where Thom managed to sort my new laptop out - I'm good, but sometimes you need a systems engineer - thank's for that). The clothes will be done to the KonMari method after I've made the apricot jam - the apricots are sitting on the kitchen floor ripening.

The questions come from Sunday Stealing - as always

This year:

A bad habit I'm going to break: 

Being late on weekends. I'm always ten minutes late on weekends. It's rude. It must stop.

A new skill I'd like to learn: 

It's really an old skill to re-learn. I'd like to be running regularly by the end of the year.

A person I'd like to be more like: 

Me. I don't want to be like anybody else.

A good deed I'm going to do: 

Donate more to charity. It feels good. I'm doing that with this cull of the crap in my flat.

A place I'd like to visit: 

I'm overdue for a trip to Europe. I'd also really like to go to Robe, South Australia. Haven't been there since I was a kid.

A book I'd like to read: 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara. It's on my kindle and Mum gave me her hard copy. Once the book group book is read it's next off the block.

A letter I'm going to write: 

Will have to email a few friends, but I can't think who I would be writing to.

A new food I'd like to try: 

Not so much a new food, but a new experience. Jonella and I were talking over coffee today - we're budgeting to go to Vue de Monde for our birthdays for a degustation dinner. Yay.

I'm going to do better at:

Reading books (would like to read more books)
Not getting flustered about the small stuff.
Live in the moment.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


I love holiday time. There is no real time table to keep to, unless you consider that the gym holds classes at certain times and if you want to make them, you have to be there.

Yesterday Jay and I went for our constitutional lap of the Botanic Gardens. We often do this on public holidays when the gym's closed. This time, as we passed The Shrine, I suggested going in to have a look. Best idea of the year so far.

For the non-Melbournites reading this, the Shrine of Remembrance is Melbourne's War Memorial.

It's open from 10-5 every day. We were on the steps at 10 am to hear The Last Post being played. After a wander around the main hall, we headed down to the crypt, curious to see what might be down there. What we found was a new museum. It's only been open for less than a year, looking at Australia's Military History. It's great. We got through the section on World War One. Making this more poignant, there's a sound and light show with an actual boat that was used for the Gallipoli Landing in 1915. My uncle would have been on one of those boats.

The Museum is free to enter and well worth a visit. We left after the first section. The tickets on the car were going to run out. Best not chance it, even if it was a public holiday. I'll go back in the next few weeks to check out the rest of the exhibits - and to look out from the ambulatory in the roof of the building.

It's things like this you don't find in when you're working.

My priorities for my holiday are being fulfilled. I've been to the gym today. There are apricots ripening in the kitchen in preparation for making jam in the coming days - that will happen when they're all ripe. Alice's tree has served me well once again.

The boot of the car is half full of crap ready to take round to Thom and Georgie's. Thom's sister is having a charity drive for donated stuff. I've started in the spare room. So much stuff I haven't had use for in years (a bicycle helmet, yoga mat, candles gifted to me in 2003, glasses gifted at last year's Xmas in July.... the list goes on).

By the time I go out there tomorrow, I suspect the boot of the car might be full.

Now off to Blarney's for dinner and to have an overdue cuddle with the Maow Maow.

It's what holidays are for.

Friday, January 1, 2016

January Resolutions - Or the KonMari Con

It's New Year's Day. Time to set some goals for January.

Rather than New Year's Resolutions, I'd rather set myself SMART goals - you know, specific, meaningful / measured, action based, realistic and time based goals - yes, I know it's corporate wank, but it works for me. I'm an over achiever - this is how I work.

I find it's easier to set myself monthly goals. More gets done that way.

Also, remember, I'm between jobs at the moment, which means I have a bit more time on my hands. I also need a lot of time to myself at the moment. After the last two weeks I'm intending to spend a lot of time with me. I need this.

So, here's my to do list for January.

KonMari the flat.

A lot of people are talking about this book. "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. 

Marie Kondo is a Japanese Tidying Up expert. Personally I think that she's an articulate, airy-fairy obsessive-compulsive with far too much time on her hands. I read her book when I was down at my parents' place. They thought that this was the funniest thing they'd seen in ages. 

Regardless, the book has resonated with me and over January I will be tidying my flat using the KonMari method. The first job is going through clothes. This means taking out EVERY piece of clothing I own, looking at it and asking "Does this bring me joy?" I then have to do this with my books.Then the rest of my flat.

As I said - I really to think that Marie Kondo is a bit of a nutcase, but it's given me the impetus to really do this properly. 

I'll blog the process. It will be interesting. Also, after living in this flat for ten years, I've accumulated far too much crap. It's time to do something about it.

The KonMari method means that you have to be particularly brutal, which I'm prepping for. Having to drag out every piece of clothing means that I need to clear some space in the lounge room. I also need to find the other side of the couch which is currently under a heap of crap.,

The second January resolution is the spend at least an hour at the gym a day(or a solid hour's walk), six days a week. I need this for me. I'd like to get myself running again, but this will be a slow, steady process. In the mean time, lots of exercise. It makes me feel good. I have the time to do this.

Thirdly. January is the month of no chips. Just no chips. No chips off people's plates either. No chips at all. I don't need them.

As a fourth goal, over the month I want to copy all of my CDs over to a removable hard drive - and dispose of the CDs. They've been sitting there for years. Time to do something about them.Hell, I remember when CDs came out. They're all but redundant now.

Lastly, write for an hour a day. I'm on holiday, this should not be hard to do. Another things I really want to do to feed my soul.

So there you go - that's my January sorted. Specific, Measurable, Action-based and achievable, Realistic and Timely goals.

The KonMari process is scaring the hell out of me - but I'm sure I'll be loading some pictorial evidence over the coming days.


Kondo, Marie, " The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" , Berkeley, Ten Speed Press, 2015