Do Fish Dream ?

Monday, December 31, 2007


"You must be the change you want to see in the world"

Mahatma Gandhi
Indian political & spiritual leader (1869 - 1948)

What's The Best Piece of Advice You've Ever Been Given ?

When I was around 10 years of age and just beginning to develop an awareness that some people judge others on their appearance, my dear old Nan said to me:

"Just put a big smile on your face my girl. Then people will not see your worn coat, your darned socks or your scuffed shoes. They will just see the beautiful girl underneath"

She must have told me this a dozen times or more when I was young. Now, 33 years later, I no longer have to wear second hand clothes or shoes, but I still worry too damn much about what other people think of me. I wish I'd listened - and believed - when my Nan spoke those words.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Here's to all the Brilliant, Gorgeous, Talented, Fabulous Women out there

I have always loved this excerpt from Nelson Mandela's 1994 inauguration speech, where he quoted Marianne Williamson (from her book 'A Return To Love').

I'm paraphrasing it below especially for my new friends out there in Blog Land - you know who you are - thank you for your strength and your inspiration.

"We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. When we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I Love My Motorbike

She's a 2005 VTR750 Honda Shadow and just the second road bike I've owned since I've been a grown-up. I learned to ride on a Yamaha 100 ag bike around the farm i grew up on, but have only had my road licence for the past few years. I love going for rides in the mountains with Tex (he has a much bigger, faster Yamaha FJR1300), but confess to being a fair weather rider (ie. no riding in rain or on -0degC or 40degC+ days), which I agree makes me a bit soft ! And when I say riding with Tex, what I mean is that whilst we drive out of the garage together, he speeds off and periodically waits for me on the side of the road until I catch up ! Hey, I don't mind, I always ride my own ride. I usually stick to the speed limit, and whilst I always wear fully-armoured leather jacket and kevlar-lined draggin jeans, I'm not about to take any risks; whilst I love riding, I am acutely aware of the risks of not being seen by car drivers.

I am starting a new job in a couple of weeks which is a comfortable half hour commute down the mountain, so am really looking forward to riding to and from work - and with the price of fuel these days being so outrageous (no really, thanks Mr Bush and your fucking war), the ecomony of the bike is an added bonus.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Liberation !

Well, I've finally done it - I've had that conversation with my mother. Yep, from 2008 I will not be playing "happy families" at Christmas time. I will spend the holidays with Tex and Tex Jnr doing what makes us happy, not what my family expects me to do, or what I feel obligated to do. Whilst I do love my two sisters and my mum and dad, I share very little with them other than genes. We have absolutely nothing in common and to continue to pretend that we all get on with each other is just farcical. To put it bluntly, my sisters are self-absorbed, materialistic, drama queens; my father is an emotionally-distant alcoholic and my poor mother is just about drowning in her martyrdom. Now, I'm certainly not perfect - far, far from it. I have plenty of my own idiosyncrasies which no doubt drive them equally spare. But, whilst I can get on with each of them individually, put us all together under one roof and it is a fucking train smash !

So, bring on Christmas 2008 - you don't scare me anymore ! Woohoo !!

Why Are Tattoos so Addictive ?

I got my first tattoo almost 20 years ago; a girly, swirly, flowery design encircling the belly piercing I had been brave enough to get some months earlier(hey, this was in the early 80s before every pre-pubescent 12 year old girl had pierced navels !). There was no particular purpose, no meaning to it at all, except the age-old raison d'ĂȘtre: It seemed like a good idea at the time. I recall the tattoo artist telling me that they were addictive and that I would be back for more. At the time, I was gritting my teeth from the pain of the needle cutting into my soft lower belly, watching as she swabbed away smeared blood and wondering why the hell I was getting it done in the first place - I was absolutely adamant that I was never going to do it again.

Fast forward 20 years and I've just endured the pain of my 5th tattoo and am already wondering where and what my next one will be. And this last one hurt - I mean, seriously fucking hurt. From start to finish, it took almost 4 hours and was on the top of my foot, where there is little fat or muscle to cushion the impact of needle on bone. I got the hibiscus in Hawaii during a trip a couple of years ago, then had some vines added for more impact and balance.

So, why do I (and millions of others) keep going back for more ? For one thing, I can assure you all that's it's not for the endorphin rush; I get no such high - it just fucking hurts from the first tentative scratch of needle on skin til the time the the very last drop of ink is injected.

And, it's certainly not so that I can endure the scathing criticism that some people feel compelled to impart ... I frequently hear the line, usually with a sniff: "I can only imagine what you're going to look like when you're 70." The answer, of course, is like everyone else with seven decades of living behind them: saggy and relatively unappealing. But, seriously, tattoos won't much help or hinder that, one way or another will they ? And yes, I agree there might be a day when my body designs don't look quite as good to me as they do now, but I will never regret them. I just wish people would understand that my tattoos are not for them to understand and like - they are inherently personal and I love each and every one of them. However, understanding the prejudice of some people, all of my tattoos are in places that can be easily covered by clothing or shoes if I choose - I certainly don't flash them around in the workplace for example.

So, it is a bit of a mystery to me - but I guess it does not need to be explained. And in any case, as far as addictions go, this one is relatively benign.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What do you want to be when you grow up ??

I've been struggling for years to find the answer to this question. If only I'd thought to take the blog test, I may not be having such a career crisis right now. I need to find a vocation where my personal values match those of the organisation I work in. (Actually, this is one career choice I legitimately considered when I was younger, but ironically, I was cautioned against it because I would "take on other people's problems as if they were your own". I guess the inference was that I would lack objectivity and get too personally involved. Maybe I should have gone with my gut instinct and ignored them all!)

You Should Be a Social Worker

You are deeply caring and empathetic.
You are able to take on other people's problems as if they were your own.
Sensitive and intuitive, you understand human emotions well.
Helping others gives you the most joy in life. You feel like it's your purpose in life.

You do best when you:

- Have a lot of responsibility
- Greatly impact someones life with your work

You would also be a good philanthropist or stay at home parent.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

One Million Blogs for Peace

I saw this icon on Random Thoughts of Life and was inspired. I hope you are too. It involves taking a Pledge which affirms that you believe in the immediate withdrawal of all foreign combat troops from the nation of Iraq, and that you believe in using your blog, in whole or in part, as a tool toward this end. Simply click on the Peace Icon underneath and sign up !

Friday, December 21, 2007

How Quirky Are You ?

Hrmph ! I think I'm way more quirky than that ! Bloody hell - perhaps I'm simply mainstream.....(I think their quirkmeter is off). What about you bloggers ? What's your quirk quotient ??

Your Quirk Factor: 62%

You're so quirky, it's hard for you to tell the difference between quirky and normal.
No doubt about it, there's little about you that's "normal" or "average."

Christmas Drove this Mother Crackers

A Mother, pushed to breaking point by the stresses and strains of a family Christmas was held in police cells for a night after her patience with her three children and husband finally snapped.

Sarah Hughes,32, dumped the family's presents in the bin and ripped down the decorations. She slammed the front door, shattering the glass, and when he husband Michael,33, said he was calling the police she cut the telephone wires and tried to slash the tyres on his car.

Eventually two police officers arrived at the family's home and arrested her for a breach of the peace. After a night in custody she appeared in court yesterday and told magistrates "I could do without Christmas".

I hear you sister !!

(With thanks to Michael Cumberlin - The Times:London)

The Cats Have it All Sussed

Instead of ranting and railing against the injustice in the world, when I come back, I want to come back as a cat....

"There are people who reshape the world by force or argument, but the cat just lies there, dozing, and the world quietly reshapes itself to suit his comfort and convenience." Allen and Ivy Dodd

How Many Germs Live on Your Computer Keyboard ???

Ewwww !! Way tooooo many on mine. I saw this on Frog Ponds Rock blog and loved the grossness of it. Click on the link below, take the quiz and see how you go !

2,516,640How Many Germs Live On Your Keyboard?


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Taking Responsibility Pt 2 - Anger Issues

Because I deal with lots of difficult people at work, sometimes I get pretty cranky; in fact, sometimes I get really angry. Lately, I've been questioning the amount of energy I invest in this negative emotion and wondering if there might not be a better way of dealing with it. If like me you have anger issues from time to time, and have a tough time trying to deal with how it makes you feel, maybe this thought can give you a new way of looking at things - "I make myself angry". Nobody makes you angry, you make yourself angry. Now, for some people, a thought such as this is drastically different from their normal mode of thinking. Normally, when someone says or does something we don't like and it upsets us, we want to say, "You make me angry." Perhaps we need to question that assumption rather than taking it for granted: Is it really true that he or she makes me angry or am I making myself angry?

In these situations, I need to sit down and think carefully about what is really going on. Perhaps someone said or did something that was unacceptable to me. Perhaps, it seemed unfair to me. It creates a new problem for me, or makes it difficult for me to get what I want. Naturally, I don't like it. It frustrates me. It upsets all my plans. It denies me what I really wanted. But all the things I mentioned are "I", "me" and "mine." I made myself angry because those are my perceptions, my desires, and my expectations, etc. Those may not at all be the perceptions, desires, or expectations of the person who I mistakenly think makes me angry. Isn't that often the case between two people in conflict, "they don't see eye to eye with each other?" Each one is angry because the other one is not meeting his or her expectations, demands, wishes, and the like. The fact is that each one is making oneself angry, blaming the other for one's own anger, and both become furious and utterly frustrated with each other because neither of them wants to change his or her ways.

I think the reason that we try so hard to prove that the person in front is at fault, is probably not so much to blame the other person but rather has to do with us wanting to protect our own self-esteem. If we don't defend ourselves vigorously and blame the other person with equal vigour, we may have to admit to ourselves that we were at fault. Yikes, fuck that concept !!

All this is of course easier said than done and I'm very sure I won't get through the Christmas with the family period unscathed and without getting bloody angry. But, it is something for me to work on. We'll see......

Taking Responsibility - Part 1

I have a new member of staff - let's call him Mr Bloggs - who is apparently incapable of telling the truth. Ever since he arrived at my place of work a month ago, he has proved himself to be a habitual liar. I have lost count of the times I have caught him out in a lie. The way these untruths seem to effortlessly roll off his tongue would indicate that this is a very familiar pattern of behaviour. Whilst I will forgive most misdemeanour's, the one thing I find intolerable is a lack of integrity. I accept that people make mistakes - we are human and it is human to make mistakes. I certainly make my fair share. But what I can't and don't accept is that when these mistakes are made, some people refuse to accept responsibility and instead, look for someone or something else to blame.

I know it is a generalisation, and there are many honest people out there but it seems to me that they are getting few and far between. So my question to people like Mr Bloggs is this: "When do you start taking responsibility for your own actions?" It appears that these folks no longer own their actions. Owning your actions involves taking personal responsibility for what you do. Why is it that when something goes wrong, they need some place (or person) to lay the blame? Part of being a mature, responsible adult is to know that when you make a decision in life, you are responsible for the outcome, not someone else.

So Mr Bloggs, for fuck's sake, let go of the blaming mentality and stop being a freaking victim. Step up, accept the consequences of the choices you make, take responsibility, hold yourself accountable and perhaps then you will grow up.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Finally, Common Sense Prevails !

I heard two bits of great news today !

1. Whilst the reason for the cancellation (drought) is tragic, the upside is that the Duck shooting season in the state of Victoria has been cancelled for the second consecutive year - woohoo !! Finally some common sense prevails. With duck numbers, habitat availability and breeding levels, in some cases, at their lowest levels in 25 years, this is awesome news.

2. Japan has apparently agreed not to kill humpback whales during its current Antarctic hunt. Japan's whaling fleet set sail last month with plans to catch more than 1,000 whales, including 50 humpbacks, before returning to port early next year. Humpbacks were hunted to near extinction until the International Whaling Commission ordered their protection in 1966 and the planned hunt had sparked a loud outcry from activists. Australia today announced that it would send a fisheries patrol ship to shadow Japan's whaling fleet near Antarctica and gather evidence for a possible international court challenge to halt the yearly hunt.

Acting against the whalers was one of the new Labor-led Australian government's election pledges. "We are dealing here with the slaughter of whales, not scientific research," Mr Smith told a news conference in Canberra. "That is our start point and our end point." A formal protest would also be lodged with the Japanese government within weeks, he said, without naming other nations involved.

"The Australian government will take all diplomatic measures to seek to persuade the Japanese government to stop the whale slaughter," Australian broadcaster ABC quoted Mr Smith as saying.

Yeah !!

Unadulterated Greed

I hate Christmas. For starters, it is probably the most stressful time of year for me, for there is always the tension between the expectations of my parents and siblings "you've got to "do" Christmas, otherwise you are depriving your son of all things magical" and what I want to do (laze around a pool reading a book, relaxing and forget all about family expectations). Then there are my expectations (that this year will be different and family will all spend a bitch/whinge/snipe-free happy state of being) which are inevitably never met. But, worse of all there is the relentless, unadulterated, grasping, greedy commercialism that seems to start earlier and earlier every year. For fuck's sake, the tinsel and trees appeared in the shops just moments after the freaking Easter eggs had been taken off the shelves. AND, I hate the glossy, tree-destroying catalogues which appear in my letterbox months before, enticing people to spend, spend, SPEND and get themselves into debt, debt, DEBT. Because as we surely know, the degree to which we love someone is directly proportional to the amount of money we spend on their Christmas gift/s.

At work right now, I am surrounded by people who are rapidly working themselves into a frenzy with all the shopping, wrapping, posting, spending - putting everything on credit and buying things they cannot afford for people they don't really care for, because "that's what you do at Christmas". They will then spend the next month standing in queues returning gifts they don't want/don't like/don't need/don't work and a further 6months in a post Christmas funk, trying to pay off the credit card bill.

Tex and I recently went to Peru to visit our sponsor child. He and his family live in what most westerners would describe as abject poverty, but they are happy. Our sponsor child walks over 2 hours to school and back each day, then helps his father on the farm the rest of the time. We took him a soccer ball and pump and a T-shirt with an Australian flag on it and you would have thought we had given him a million dollars. He and his family have a rudimentary roof over their heads, basic food to eat and as much love and affection for each other as I have seen anywhere.

Most people would feel sorry for them - but as I look around my workplace and see unhappy, harried faces, I know who I feel more sorry for.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Body Image Issues - Your Children are Listening

Hmmmmmmm - for me this is a truly vexed issue. Like millions of women around the world, I have struggled with body image issues for much of my life. Whilst I intellectually know I am not fat, I have spent far too much of my life believing this notion to be an absolute truth. Whilst it sounds cliched, this all started in my childhood and continued on into my adult life, with relationships with abusive partners and I guess I've never adequately dealt with the issues so they continue to haunt me from time to time.

I vividly remember a comment my father made about the size of my backside when I was 12 years of age; immediately before my mother put me on my first diet. For Christ sake, I was hitting puberty, sprouting breasts and hips and rounding out as nature intended - but my (size 6, bikini-wearing) mother was having none of it - it was lettuce leaves and carrot sticks for her pudgy daughter from that day forth.

It's just so, so sad and my heart aches for all the young girls out there who are bombarded with media images of impossibly thin, impossibly (airbrushed) beautiful models and the whole sexualisation of younger girls who are encouraged to dress in a manner completely inappropriate to their age. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that media images of female beauty are unattainable for all but a very small number of women. Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition !! Hideous, but true - and still, the number of real life women and girls who seek a similarly underweight body is epidemic, and they can suffer equally devastating health consequences.

Of course I understand that our body image is how we perceive, think and feel about our body, which may have no bearing at all on our actual appearance. For instance, it is common in Western nations for women to believe they are larger and fatter than they really are. According to studies conducted in Australia, only one in five women are satisfied with their body weight. Nearly half of all normal weight women overestimate their size and shape. As I know only too well, a distorted body image can lead to self-destructive behaviour, like dieting, binge eating or eating disorders(in my case, bulimia for many, many years). And, approximately nine out of 10 young Australian women have dieted at least once in their lives.

The barrage of messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tells "ordinary" women that they are always in need of adjustment and that the female body is an object to be perfected.

Your children are listening - so, please, please whether you are a mum or dad, an aunt or uncle, a neighbour or friend, or simply a passerby, make your best effort to be a positive influence on the young kids out there. Let’s try to fill those young minds with a fresh and healthy perspective on body image and stop the self-destructive behaviour from perpetuating.

I don't believe in UFOs, but......

Poodles has tagged me with an interesting MEME about any paranormal events I may have had. This was actually a few days ago now, so everyone is probably well and truly over reading these kinds of stories, but in the interests of playing fair, here goes....

Firstly, "The Rules"

You should post these rules

Recall and relate a time when you experienced a "paranormal event"

Explain it rationally if you can

Inflict this meme on 5 other people

A number of years ago when I was living on a sheep farm in Victoria, I was driving with my mum around dusk on a hot summer's evening. The sky was clear and the air still and my mum and I were heading home after a day of shopping in a town about an hour away. All of a sudden - and it literally happened suddenly - a large, very bright orb of light appeared over in a paddock to our left. It was around 250metres away and around 20metres off the ground. We slowed down to have a look and remarked that it was very early for spotlighters to be out (men who hunt foxes at night to protect their sheep), but as we spoke, the light started moving higher and closer and all the while it was getting brighter. We stopped the car and watched and whilst neither of us mentioned it at the time, we later admitted the hair on the backs of our neck was standing up. It was bizarre; it hovered for probably 30 seconds in place, then started moving higher and further away. Then when it was probably 500metres away, it just vanished. We kept staring at the area, and whilst it was getting darker, we could clearly see that there was nothing there - either on the ground, or in the air. Really, truly freaky stuff. Neither of us believe in UFOs or any type of paranormal activity, but we simply could not explain it then and I still don't know what it was. We discussed the fact that it was too high for a spotlight (usually mounted on a vehicle or held by hand), there were no houses in that area, it was too low for a chopper or plane, wasn't ball lighting - there was definitely something going on. I still don't believe in UFOs, but still, some 25 years later I simply have no explanation for it.

Also, my sister seems to have an ability to know stuff that she just should not/could not know - I suppose you would call her a medium. Whilst she does not see dead people, she claims to speak to them. I say claims because I just can't get with the program and struggle to believe it all. But, somehow she manages to tell my mum things about her childhood that only her long-dead mother would know (like the colour of the dress and shoes my mum wore on her first day at school) and the song that she used to sing to her (my maternal grandmother died when my mother was 9) and myriad other things like that. How to explain it ? Other than suggesting that she has heard these things from my mum before (my mum swears not) I simply don't know. More really, truly freaky stuff that I can explain.

Not sure who else to tag with this, but I'll start with Sarah !

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Solariums: Fashion to Die For

As a former devotee of sun tanning - when I was younger by lying for hours on end in the hot sun, sizzling under a layer of greasy sun tan oil, and in my 30s a huge fan of the solarium for acheiving an all-over, year-long, bronzed tan - these days, I find myself scanning my body on a regular basis for spots, marks, freckles or moles that change in shape, texture or size - warning signs that I may have a skin cancer.

The statistics are frightening. Over 1300 Australians die every year from skin cancer. 1 in 2 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. Deliberately exposing your skin to UV radiation, by using a solarium, will increase your risk of skin cancer.

The The Cancer Council campaign, "Solariums: Fashion to Die For" was launched to make people aware of the dangers of contracting skin cancer from solariums. The campaign is aimed at fashion conscious young women who feel pressured into having a tan. The message is simple – using a solarium for even a small amount of time can increase your chances of developing skin cancer. Solariums emit ultraviolet rays up to five times stronger than the midday summer sun.

Ultraviolet radiation such as from a solarium causes premature ageing of the skin. This may be evident as increased skin wrinkling, irregular pigmentation and altered skin texture, photo aging and a loss of skin elasticity. All this damage is generally irreversible without cosmetic surgery.


1. Solariums may emit much higher concentrations of ultraviolet (UV) radiation than the sun; in fact, up to five times as strong as the midday summer sun.

2. Solariums emit UVA and UVB radiation, both known causes of skin cancer. In general, solariums predominantly emit UVA, however in recent years, solariums have been manufactured to produce higher levels of UVB to mimic the solar spectrum and higher levels of UV radiation intensity to speed up the tanning process.

Associate Professor John Kelly from the Cancer Council dispels the solarium myths:

1. Solarium tanning is safer than tanning in the sun. . . . . Not True

Solariums emit harmful levels of UV radiation up to five times as strong as the midday summer sun. This is the equivalent of the UV index being over 60. (The highest UV index level in NSW is 13.)

2. If I build up my tan, I’ll be protected from the sun. . . . . Not True

A tan offers limited protection and increases your risk of skin cancer and premature ageing.

3. A tan makes you healthy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not True

There is nothing healthy about skin cancer or damaged skin. Solariums are dangerous and threaten the lives of people that use them.

4. I need a solarium tan for a special occasion. . . . . . . . . Not True

A solarium emits a very powerful dose of UV radiation. If you must have a tan then use fake tanning products.

5. A solarium is a good way of getting my Vitamin D. . . . Not True

For any active Australian, you will receive enough Vitamin D while doing your normal day-to-day activities. Exposing your skin to extreme levels of UV radiation, through a solarium, is not safe. If you believe you may be Vitamin D deficient, speak to your doctor.

The simple fact is that the more your skin is exposed to UV radiation the greater your risk of skin cancer. I'd wished I'd known that 10 years ago, although honestly it probably would not have made much difference. Youth has a way of making us feel immortal.

So, come on girls - if you want the bronzed look (and I must confess I still have to get over the fact that I still think it looks better !), then let's fake it (and let's face it, I daresay we'll all had plenty of practice with faking it in our time) and get out the tubes/sprays/cans of fake tan. The new stuff is less orangey in colour and more pleasant smelling than the earlier types.

AND, if you are or have been at risk, keep checking for those suspect changes and if in doubt, get to your GP - your life may very well depend upon it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Consumerism at Christmas

giftWhen I was a kid growing up on a wheat and sheep farm in Australia, I didn't have 'stuff''. My parents were not well off financially (I'd say they were poor but that screams of melodrama) and so my two sisters and I rarely got gifts, new clothes or went on school excursions, and we did not have a single family holiday in the 17 years I lived at home. You can bet Dad always had money for beer and cigarettes, but there was rarely any money left over for his wife or kids. Okay, a bit of melodrama has crept in, but fuck it - I do still harbour some unresolved resentment (more shit to deal with during counselling sessions !).

Suffice it to say, Christmas was never a big production, at least with respect to presents. Poor Mum tried - she trotted out the same tired old fake tree for the first 17 years of my life, adorned it with faded baubles and stringy tinsel and took we kids to Christmas Eve Mass every freaking year. But, although we diligently hung out our Santa Sacks on the chimney, and expectations were high in young minds, the day was almost always a complete disappointment in terms of presents for the kids. Mind you, Mum did try and get some cash off my father before he drank it all away, and purchased at least one Christmas gift for each of her three daughters. But, it was never the Chrissy Doll (you remember the one, she had hair that you pulled from the top of her head !) when I was 7 or the cassette player I so desperately wanted when I was 12. But, there was love and there was always something small and thoughtful lurking in the sack.

As a child I was consumed with envy for the fortune of my best friend, whose parents were local business owners 'in town' for she and her siblings were completely over indulged with every thing their little hearts desired. I know I carried this resentment over being poor and envying my friend into adulthood, because I have spent a good deal of my adult working life spending money on 'things', some I needed, some I just plain wanted, and many, many more I neither needed or wanted. Although I am sure some Psych would probably over analyse the issue, for me it is as simple as now when I want stuff, I can - and do - damn well buy it.

Well, the result has been a houseful of stuff that has, at least in recent times, been given away, sold or otherwise trashed for I now yearn for a more simple existence where as long as I have a roof over my head, healthy food on my table and love in my home, that alone is enough to sustain me.

This philosophy has carried over into my Christmas Gift Giving plan for 2007 - and whether they want it or not, parents, siblings and friends will be given a goat, some tree seedlings, an organic vege garden, a toilet, school supplies or a fuel efficient stove. What the.....? Ok, there is a great organisation in Australia, TEAR - Transformation, Empowerment, Advocacy, Relief (one of many here and around the world I am sure) that offers these gifts in exchange for donations to their aid programs. So, you go to the website, select the appropriate gift eg. School supplies for a community in Bangladesh (or Afghanistan, India, Thailand, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda) for my ex-school teacher Mother in Law and for the sum of $AUD50, she receives a card thanking her for her sponsorship and that's the gifting all done ! In fact, most of my family members are aware they are getting these kinds of virtual-gifts this year and are delighted. And, in this season which is supposed to be all about giving - not getting - so they bloody well should be !

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bunny Boilers

I'm in a job where I have hundreds of staff and I'm frequently involved in assisting them deal with myriad professional and personal crises. In the last couple of weeks, I've had a couple of experiences with women who have come to me for advice about what I would describe as systematic, sustained, seriously-fucked-up stalking behaviour from ex's. Both these women detailed patterns of behaviour by these men which, to any reasonable person, would constitute unacceptable behaviour, but for some reason, they had put up with it for up to 18months. The stories they told, the emails and transcribed text messages they showed me, were enough to simultaneously raise goose-bumps on my flesh and make me sick to my stomach. There was evidence of plaintive, pleading entreaties followed only minutes later by sadistic, perverted threats against the girls and their new partners/kids/pets. The girls had been followed in cars, on foot, had their houses and workplaces watched and in one case, a note had been passed directly to a child on their way home from school from the psycho ex. In the other case, an email she received revealed her ex knew the name of her new partner, his daughter's name, where he worked and what he did for a job, both he and his daughter's dates of birth, her new address, (silent) telephone number - and he's supposed to be living interstate - how the hell did he find this stuff out ?? Seriously, scary, fucked-up shit. But, neither of these girls had sought police intervention - they had either tried to ignore the behaviour, replied to emails and text messages with gentle pleas to be left alone to get on with their new lives or retreated into their homes and lived like caged birds.

Helloooooo !!!! Girls - these men are nut-bags of the highest order - dontcha think that if they intended leaving you alone, they would have done so by now ????

The really sad part is that part of me understands the manipulation and mind games that these men play and how we women sometimes buy into their shit. I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person, but I stayed in a previous emotionally-abusive relationship for 6 years because my ex had convinced me I was fat, ugly, worthless, stupid and unlovable - in hindsight, and now I'm in a healthy, authentic, honest relationship, I am furious with myself, for I know I am none of those things, but at the time, when you are in the midst of it, your self-esteem is so low you really and truly believe it, deep down. So, I get why other women don't leave or when they do, how hard they sometimes find it to extricate themselves from the relationship.

But, back to these women - I took both of them to the local police station where they were compassionately interviewed by domestic violence case workers and AVOs were taken out against the men involved. It's early days yet, but it appears as though these cowardly, bullying men have finally met their match. Of course, not all women are as lucky as these two - domestic homicides are all too frequent, and it's really scary what a fine line there is between passionate love and passionate hate.

No, I'm not a man hater - my two great loves are my husband and only son - and I do agree that this kind of behaviour is perpetrated by many women as well (as the title of my blog suggests). But, the terror I witness in those who are genuinely afraid for their lives and those of their loved ones when they are the victim of stalker-ex's, are usually women.

So, has it happened to you ? Have you been stalked or had your bunny boiled by an ex ? I'd love to hear your stories.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I just don't get other parents

Today is my son's birthday party; he turned 15 this week and he invited 10 other kids to a sleep over party at our home. Six girls and 4 boys. Now, only one of the parents had met me and none of them had met Tex. So, I (naively) thought that since their little darlings would be sleeping over at a stranger's home, they would come in and meet Tex 'n me, check out our home and get the feel of the place. Well, not only did they not come in, the first I knew of most arrivals was a ring at the door bell by a kid, I would look out, enquire as to the whereabouts of mum or dad, only to be told, "Oh, they've gone home".

Now, I don't know about you other parents, but if my son was invited to someones home for a sleep over, I'd be wanting to check out the other kids parents. Although I don't have a 15 year old daughter, I would imagine that her parents would be even more keen. Okay, so Tex is a fabulous bloke, but fuck me - they don't know that; for all they know, he could massacre 15 year old kids with a chainsaw in the basement (or worse...), but not one of the little darlings mums or dads decided to pop in and check us out.

I'd like to think that they are just trusting people, who know our son and who believe that, on the basis of his nature and personality, we would be good people. But, personally, I think its just negligence on their part. Maybe I'm over reacting (yes, I have been accused of being a 'smother-mother' more than once), but I don't think you can be too careful.

What do you think ?? Am I over reacting, or do you find it surprising that none of the parents wanted to (1) check out my husband and I; (2) ask/check about sleeping arrangements for their daughters; (3) leave emergency contact phone numbers; ir (4) arrange pick up times.

Seriously, I just don't get other parents....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

8 Things

I was struggling to find something to start my blog with, so my husband suggested I try this...

*8 things I'm passionate about:

1. My husband and son without whom life would be soul-less
2. My Burmese cats, Minti and Jaffa
3. Aligning my personal values with those of the my organisation
4. Being kind to old people, kids and animals
5. Reading for pleasure (ie NOT freaking text books) and listening to great music
6. Honesty, integrity and loyalty above all else
7. The promotion of equity and diversity in all its forms
8. The welfare of my staff

*8 things I would like to do before I die:

1. Accept myself for who and what I am
2. Snorkel off the Maldives
3. Learn more about Buddhism
4. Work within an organisation whose values align with my own
5. Take ballroom dancing lessons
6. Learn to corner my motorbike with great confidence at high speed !
7. Live in a small cottage on acreage with just my husband, my cats 'n dogs, a vege patch, my books and my music
8. See my son grow into a happy, healthy adult who is living out his dreams

*8 things I say often:

1. I love you (to my husband and son)
2. No Tex, I haven't seen your..........
3. Clean your room (to my 15yo son!)
4. Jesus bloody Christ !
5. I'm so bloody tired
6. Are you serious ?
7. Have you done your homework ?
8. Is it that time already ?

*8 books i have read recently:

1. Write Home For Me (A Red Cross Woman in Vietnam) by Jean Debelle Lamensdorf
2. Slaughterhouse:The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect and Inhumane Treatment Inside
The US Meat Industry by Gail A. Eisnitz
3. Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs
4. Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis
5. The Power of Beauty by Nancy Friday
6. Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin
7. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
8. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

*8 songs that I could listen to over and over (and do):

1. Throw your arms around me/Holy Grail (equal #1 - both by Hunters & Collectors)
2. Torn (Natalie Imbruglia)
3. White Flag (Dido)
4. Whiskey in the Jar (Thin Lizzy)(especially when sung & played on guitar by my husband)
5. Oh No (Dan Greenwood)
6. My Hometown (Bruce Springsteen)
7. Move it on Over (George Thorogood & The Destroyers)
8. Hallelujah (Rufus Wainright version of the Jeff Buckley classic)

*8 things which attract me to friends

1. Loyalty, Compassion, Integrity and Honesty - these above all else
2. Being able to relax and let my guard down with them
3. When they accept my idiosyncrasies without judging me
4. Being able to be still and quiet with them
5. Having an ability to laugh at one another without malice
6. Understanding what I do for a living does not define me as a human being
7. Love my cats = love me !
8. Ability to keep things simple (life is complex enough)

Today my son turned 15....

....and all I can do is sit and wonder where the time has gone. He is no longer my little boy, but an incredible young man with independent hopes, dreams and aspirations. I find it amazing that I haven't completely fucked him up and that somehow he has managed to grow up to be a completely well-adjusted and self-confident kid. This quiet self-confidence allows him to tell me that he loves me every day and give me a hug in front of his peers, without embarrassment and with genuine feeling. Of all of the things that I have ever done, he is by far my greatest achievement and whilst there are times when he exasperates and infuriates me beyond all reason, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don't reflect upon just how proud I am of him and who he is.

Okay, I'll agree -this is completely self-indulgent, sappy stuff - but this is my blog and I'll put whatever the fuck I like in it !

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Furry Burmese Children

Here's a picture of my Burmese cats, Minti (Blue Tortoiseshell Burmese) and Jaffa (Chocolate Burmese). They are completely over-indulged cats that I treat more like kids, which no doubt some people will find ridiculous.....but, you know what ? I don't give a rats arse.