Do Fish Dream ?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

What Couldn't YOU Live Without ?

Okay, this is meant to be a bit of fun people, so let’s set aside the obvious – oxygen, food and water…and, for the sake of making it interesting, let’s also agree to put our spouses, kids and furry kids to one side as well….

Apart from those essentials, what couldn't YOU live without … or put another, less-dramatic way…. What, if it was taken away forever, what would you miss desperately and be thoroughly miserable without ?? (hmmm, wasn’t meant to be this complicated….)

For me it is quite simple – my book and CD collections. I spend an exorbitant amount on both; to me, too many books and too many CDs is never, EVER enough. I don’t watch television at all and am not much of a movie fan, but I can lose myself for hours, for days, in my books and my music. Whilst I love my 80GB ipod, I just can’t get past the joy I get from actually buying and owning the actual CD; yes, they all end up on my ipod, and no, I can’t remember the last time I actually played a CD all the way through (give me ipod on continuous shuffle baby !), but I’ve just got to have them. I also can't remember the last time I actually went shopping without buying at least one book. I am rapidly running out of space to put them all, and so I'm prone to stacking them two and three deep in my bookshelves (which drives Tex spare !), and I have far less time in any one lifetime to ever get to read them all...

Oh, and I seriously hate anybody else messing with my collections - when I came home from work one day and found Tex had re-arranged all my books, according to author and (hell, get me some oxygen) had even regaled some of them to the garage (breathe, breathe....) well, it was almost grounds for a divorce. Or, to find that Zach has taken one of my CDs from it's rightful place and then left it in his room, or (yikes !) left it in his room without putting it back in it's cover....well, let's just say it's never too late to put kids to work in coal mines.

Thankfully, I have my own boy-free sanctuary in our home where only me and my cats are allowed to enter (Tex and Zach by invitation only !!), where I can light my candles and oil burners and sit and read or listen to music – ahhhh, it’s so wonderfully serene (or it would be if Tex didn't play his electric guitar with the amp turned up to 11....but, that'll probably be on his list :)

So…what couldn't you live without ?

How Much is Enough ?

Money that is....

I've got money invested in stock and in property, and after 25 years in the same company, considerable investment in personal superannuation - and so with all the volatility around the world in these markets, I've been asking myself this question: How much money is enough ? That is, how much money do I really need when I retire, to live the lifestyle that will make me opposed to what my financial advisor tells me I will need or what societal norms and expectations tell me I should ?

And while I'm at, what is it about money that causes otherwise sensible people to completely lose their heads ? I've seen couples who are passionately in love break up under financial stress; I have friends whose kids are starting out twenty years behind their peers because of huge credit card debts they accumulated in their teens (WTF ??); I work with executives who earn six-figure incomes and yet who can't save a cent; and I know poor retirees who have lost their live savings through various schemes and scams.

I've seen seriously rich people who are seriously miserable, and less well-off people who seem to have found the magical elixir of happiness.

So, how much is enough ? More than any other, this question gets to the heart of the balance between money and the things we want to achieve and enjoy in life. Life's busy and getting increasingly busier. Few people make the time to stop and think: Why have I been working so hard ? What have I been spending my money on ? Does this make me happy ? How much money do I really need ? And, most important of all - Have I really got the balance right ?

I've not got the answers, but I think it's time I grew up and started to search for them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Downside to Jetsetting

Hmmm, yes folks there is a serious downside to jetsetting and today I've discovered - yet again - what that is.... I've been diagnosed with a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) for the second time in 8 months. The first time I had this condition was after 23hours of flying to get to our South American destination in May last year. After experiencing extreme pain in my left calf, I presented to a Peruvian hospital, where the provisional diagnosis was DVT or Phlebitis (they did not do any scans to check) and I was given anti-coagulant medication, taken off my Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and sent on my way with strong painkillers. The language barrier didn't do much to help the Doctor or me, but with the help of a bi-lingual ward clerk, I was advised to check in with my GP upon returning to Australia. So, Tex and I proceeded to go ahead as planned and trek to Machu Picchu. There was pain, but that's what painkillers were for and to be honest, both legs were so sore after the end of each day, I didn't give much more thought to the matter.

When I developed the same symptoms yesterday, I immediately knew what it was. Despite two Doctors telling me that it was merely a soft tissue injury, I demanded to be sent for an ultrasound - at least the second Doctor had the good grace to be embarrassed when presented with the Radiologist's report that said DVT :) The third Doctor I was shunted off to is quite convinced that the first episode was a DVT as well, as it was in almost the same area and the symptoms were identical.

The Good News - I didn't suffer a pulmonary embolism or stroke on the trek up to Machu Picchu last year (the Doctor said more my good fortune than anything else) and because I was diagnosed properly this time, the risk is very low of it happening now. I've been given some stunning white compression bandages to wear, an anti-clotting medication called Clexane which I get to self-inject into my stomach twice a day, and Warfarin to thin my blood (which I will have to take for the next 6 months at least) So, within a few weeks, all will be well.

The Not-so-Good-News - Apart from having to cope with the 'yuk' factor associated with injecting myself and the un-unsexy factor of the compression bandages, I am not to undertake any activities which involve unnecessary risk while taking these medications, because of excessive bleeding and slow clotting that occurs - immediately stopping riding my motorbike was the first order I was given (WTF ????) and I need to carry bandaids and bandages wherever I go in the event I cut myself as even a small cut will take ages to stop bleeding.

Now, the most hideous part ...the fact that because of the risk factors involved, I will never be able to take HRT again - now those ladies who are taking this gear will know what I mean when I say this is the news that makes jumping out planes without a 'chute seem appealing :) Seriously, I have tried the natural plant oestrogen's, and other alternatives including acupuncture, even bloody reiki - I still suffered enormously from the worst symptoms of menopause (yeah, I know ... sorry boys, too much information).

And the worst of the not-so-good news is that Tex is somewhere holed up in the wilds of Tasmania for the next three weeks, uncontactable for the most part, other than the occasional phone call from a pay phone (our mobile phone provider obviously got lost when he visited Tasmania to install towers - there is very little coverage). Whilst Tex is probably not going to miss seeing me inject myself, or dressing up in the Nanna Stockings, or for that matter, the hissy fits that may kick in when my HRT wears off tomorrow - I will miss his support, his company and even his bloody awful crap jokes ... all of which help to keep me grounded :)

I'm quite certain I'm being a precious drama queen, and that things will look and feel much better tomorrow, but right now I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself and wish more than ever that chocolate was on my freaky eating plan :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

What's Your Favourite Holiday Memory ?

Tex and I have had some truly memorable holidays over the past few years, having been fortunate enough to travel variously to France, mainland USA, India, Hawaii, South Africa, Indonesia and Fiji but none has been more enjoyable - or demanding - as our 2007 trip to South America where, amongst other things, we trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We do a lot of bushwalking in the Blue Mountains around our home, but this trek was incredibly taxing, not only because it was undertaken at high altitude, but the track was rocky and uneven and consistently steep :) But, the view at sunrise after three really difficult days trekking was a sight that will take some matching:

We have a sponsor child (named Junior) in Cusco, Peru so took the opportunity to visit him and his family during this trip as well. A highlight of this part of the trip was surprising Junior and his classmates at his school.

At this stage, Junior goes to school in the local village, but next year when he starts high school, he will have to walk two hours there and two hours back - then he'll have to help his dad on their farm when he gets home in the afternoon.

Watching talented Peruvian women dye, spin and weave alpaca wool into amazing, brightly coloured garmants, in a small village outside Cusco, was another highlight :)

Our trip was completed with a few days charging down the Amazon River, and staying in an eco-hut in the middle of the rainforest, with monkeys, macaws, cayman and tarantulas screeching, creeping and crawling all around us ! There was no electricity and lots of scary moments for this arachnophobic - but we did manage to catch a pirahna (even though it was only a few inches long - check out the teeth though :)

We are currently planning our holiday to Ireland in May this year, so that may eventually top my list. But for now, our adventures in Peru have given me my favourite holiday memories :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Just Sickening ....

Not that there was ever any doubt, but this latest offering proves that there are no limits to the depths that these twisted, loathsome scum will plumb. Not content with the vilification of the gay community, this intolerant group of cretins have launched an attack on an actor who merely played the role of a gay man in a movie:

Anti-gay religious leader Fred Phelps has launched a scathing attack on Heath Ledger, saying his death was "the best thing that ever happened" to his family. The radical Kansas-based church plans to picket Ledger's memorial service which will be held in Los Angeles. Phelps, the 78-year-old pastor of the homosexual hate group from the US known as the Westboro Baptist Church also hit out against Australia, calling it "the land of sodom".

I am both sickened and saddened by this whole issue: I'm sickened by the bigotry, hatred and intolerance that evil people in this world put out there in the name of "religion" ....and I'm desperately sad for Heath Ledger's parents who are over here on the other side of the world, struggling to make sense of their son's death, who will read garbage like this. I'm sad for his young daughter Matilda who will grow up without ever knowing her father. I'm sad for the films that will never be made that would have further showcased this actors enormous talent.

There's no doubt: we live in a seriously fucked up world people....

How to Fake It (a Good Work Ethic) !

In the spirit of further exploring the path to mediocrity at work, here are some tips to help fake a good work ethic:

Keyword: Reports - get some of these. There's bound to be old ones in a filing cabinet somewhere. Toss several across your desk in a can't-contain-the-madness kind of way, including one right in front of you with a highlighter pen resting on top. Highlight purposefully whenever supervisors are hovering. Meanwhile, is too much Minesweeper ever enough ?

Tell your mother to call you whenever she has something to report about the neighbours. Tell her in advance not to worry when you answer your calls with, "Barry, you're killin' me with these margins" and "Hey, I never signed off on that !"

Try to pass out each night with your face planted in a hessian pillow. It creates permanent weight-of-the-world furrows in your brow :)

Occasionally it's a good idea to arrive at work early, but there's little point if no-one knows about it. Be sure to send a number of emails to your staff or your supervisor the minute you walk in the door. If you are stuck for something to write, try mentioning that the security guy for the building doesn't appear to arrive to start work until 0630h.

Turn up at least 30 minutes late for after-work drinks. This shows you must be really busy while also ensuring the first shout isn't yours.

Develop a code system for your post-it notes. Write "Haircut Friday" as "cross reference cost flow data 09/716" and "Remember Mum's birthday" as "Don't forget, stat's review Monday - full system back-up ! Delta Force 101 !!"

Request a new ergonomically designed mouse for your computer on the basis that the old one is giving you RSI. Behold the mountains of paperwork headed your way from the HR, OH&S and Tech Support departments. You'll also have to get medical officers reports to justify your request. The entire process should take you about four months and while it won't exactly be fun, it sure isn't productive enough to be anything like hard work.

Move into Middle Management.....

"I have long been of the opinion if work were such a splendid thing, the rich would have kept more of it for themselves"

Bruce Grocott (1940- )

Happy Australia Day !

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Celebrating Mediocrity in a World that Tries Too Bloody Hard !

Okay, I'm at day 7 of a new job - same organisation though and I've decided that I am not even going to try and compete with my peers - No, I am going to pursue a life more ordinary :-) Embrace mediocrity and celebrate my inner-"whatver dude".

These little gems form part of my new philosophy and will help those of you out there who would like to follow me and take your first mediocre steps towards a blissfully more ordinary life (in fact, why don't you group e-mail this list to ten people you couldn't be bothered contacting personally ?)

Work: Karma does not exist in the workplace. If you give a talentless, manipulative, grossly unfair boss enough rope, he'll simply hang more people.

Delegate: Remember, a job worth doing is worth contracting out.

Good Health: Given that most serious health crises happen to people when they least expect them, it's good practice to imagine the worst. So yes, it's probably a tumour.

Achievement: If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try .... something else. Or don't. Whatever.

Jetsetting: Don't be conned by airline advertising (the likes of which QANTAS employ) that boasts a crash-free safety record. It just means they're due.

Parenting: It's best to view parenting like a sort of long-term lay-by plan that takes so long to pay of, you forget why you wanted it in the first place. Having said that, there is nothing in life more rewarding and satisfying as a child's unconditional love. It's just such a shame it doesn't last beyond the move to solids.

Hard Work: Make hay while the supervisor is watching.

Exercise: Everyone knows that a healthy body equals a healthy mind, and vice-versa. Watch as many yoga and exercise videos as you can. Personally, I like to put them on while I am ironing.

Love: Pick someone. Make it work. End of story.

Challenge: As Nike says - just do it. Unless of course you don't really want to.

Enlightenment: Buy every self-help book available. Pile them on top of each other and place a nice piece of polished Tasmanian Oak on the top. Wa-lah ! Coffee table.

"Only mediocrity can be trusted to be always at its best"

(Sir Max Beerbohm (1872-1956)

Monday, January 21, 2008

What Colour Crayon Are You ??

I'm a bit over myself and my soul-searching posts at the moment, so here's a frivilous one to kick start the week :-)

You Are a Yellow Crayon

Your world is colored with happy, warm, fun colors.
You have a thoughtful and wise way about you. Some people might even consider you a genius.
Charming and eloquent, you are able to get people to do things your way.
While you seem spontaneous and free wheeling, you are calculating to the extreme.

Your color wheel opposite is purple. You both are charismatic leaders, but purple people act like you have no depth.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Daring to be Myself

Today I will dare to be myself. I may be tempted to put a smile on my face even though I am angry, just in order to please another person. When turning down an invitation, I may want to make excuses so that nobody will get hurt feelings. I may be inclined to cancel plans that I care about, without protest, because a loved one prefers to stay at home and I don't want to make waves. I may give the best chop to my son and keep the burned one for myself. These may be perfectly acceptable choices, and I may opt for any or all of them.

But today I will be honest with myself as I do so - I will not pretend to feel what I do not feel or to want what I do not want. I have a right to want what I want and to feel the way I feel. I may not choose to act on those feelings or desires, but I won't hide them from myself. They are part of me.

"This above all: to thine own self be true".
William Shakespeare

Friday, January 18, 2008

Especially for Preposterous Ponderings ... promised, Tex in his Harley Davidson Socks, as gifted to him at Christmas by his dear old mum :)
My intention was to re-gift 'em straight to the Salvo's, but now he knows I hate them, I can't get him to take them off - he's such a strange and perverse boy (which will come as no surprise to those readers of his Blog ) !!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Re-Gifting - do you .... or don't you (you know you DO !)

Okay, Christmas is over and by now you will have already decided which gifts are heading straight to the "Re-Gift Cupboard" at home. Although the practice pre-dates the term substantially, "re-gifting" was introduced on "Seinfeld" in 1995, and ever since, what was once a dirty little secret has become a way of life - c'mon admit it. Oh, I know, I shouldn't talk about re-gifting. It's like that other practice, you know, the one everybody does, but no-one likes to admit to doing it.

Personally, I have no qualms about re-gifting when done properly. Now, don't get me wrong; when carried out carelessly, re-gifting is a recipe for public humiliation and long-held grudges. But, when done with finesse and tact, re gifting can be a happy experience for all - providing you follow these few do's and don'ts. Starting with: DO take out the previous gift card and DON'T re gift books with names or inscriptions in them .... Duh !

Don't mention it, please: If you tell your sister-in-law, in so many words, "I have no use for this nasty vase, so I'm giving it to you," even a person in need of a vase will hate you. I say, keep your yap shut unless there's a good reason not to.

Do update the wrapping: The next most common re-gifting faux pas, after leaving the previous gift card attached, is to re-gift in the original, now crinkled and possibly torn (hello!?) wrapping paper or box. If the phrase "Hey, it looks almost new" crosses your desperate holiday brain, remember that the "almost" is a dead giveaway to the new giftee.

Don't give hand-me-downs as re-gifts: Novice re-gifters (and those who are terminally tacky) often get these two categories confused. Don't. A hand-me-down is an item you've already used that you'd like to pass along to someone who will enjoy it and use it more than you will. For example, a shirt you've removed the tags from and worn twice. You could wrap it up and give it as a "gift" only if another real gift is provided. A re-gift should be just that: a gift you've never used that you're giving away as though it were a . . . real gift!

Do keep track of who gave it to you first: For goodness sake, keep a small notebook of who gave you what. I had a harrowing experience that involved re-gifting a book to a friend - who had given them to me two years before. I forgot. She remembered. And she let me know about it. I could have died.

Don't EVER re-gift these items: Certain items are a total, dead, instant giveaway that you not only are re gifting, but you're too lame to put any effort into it: Fondue sets, candles, soap, daggy CDs, obscure software, cheesy jewellery, scarves, fruitcake, pens, cheap (4711 or Charlie anyone) perfume, boxed sets of extinct bath products, pirated videos or DVDs obviously acquired on a street corner, socks and any appliances or electronic gear the giftee would be puzzled to receive because they probably just got rid of it (including laser disc players and anything with a cassette deck in it).

Do have the courtesy to clean your re gifts: No-one wants to receive a rice cooker . . . with a couple of kernels of rice still clinging to it. Some hand-me-downs can be passed off as re-gifts if the packaging is intact, like the wine glasses you've belatedly decided to share with a loved one. Just wash the lipstick off the rim, 'kay?

Don't give something you've owned for a while: Not only is this in violation of the hand-me-down rule above, the giftee can and will recognize that picture frame from your living room shelf. (And while you're at it, don't re-gift picture frames, either.)

Don't give products from defunct companies:.Obvious, right (YES, it is)

Do sell your gifts on eBay: When someone first told me that, rather than re-gift, she sells unwanted presents on eBay and uses the proceeds to buy herself real gifts, I was sooo impressed. Then I realized everyone is doing it. (So THAT'S where all that obscure stuff comes from)

Retention Period: This refers to the length of time you need to keep the gift before you slide it on its way. If the people that gave it to you only visit once a year, then you can pretty much move that bad boy on its merry way as soon as they leave. If they live locally, then you may require a one or two month retention period in case they do pop in for a surprise 'fondue set' party !

Maximum re-gifting date: The MRD is in many ways determined by what the item its. Some things are classics and can be re-gifted years later; but other suckers need to be moved on before the latest version emerges in the stores. And remember, there's a hitch - unlike fruitcake, can't circulate forever. It's like the children's game Hot Potato: When time runs out, the loser has to keep the present.

There you go Bloggers; a few tips to keep your house de-cluttered and your wallet fatter ! (oh, one final rule .... Tex, the re-gifting concept is null and void for husbands and wives, so you can keep your Harley Davidson knee-high socks all to yourself, thanks :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Are You a Cat or a Dog Person ?

Yep, you’ll always get the big issues here at Missus Tex :)

So, bloggers, are you a Dog or a Cat Person ? Tex and I have both; we have two dogs – an adorable, beautifully natured Husky/Border Collie X named Banjo ...

and a feisty Australian Cattle Dog with attitude named Saffy ...

and two Burmese Cats, a Blue Tortoiseshell girl named Minti who loves you to death .... on her terms

.... and a chocolate boy called Jaffa who loves to snuggle.

They are both exclusively indoor cats, but have an enclosure built off the side of the house where they can sit in the 'outdoors' in safety (and where the native birds and animals are safe from them !)

I love all of our furry kids to bits, and I could not choose one of them over another. I love the dogs because I can get outdoors and take them for long walks, but my cats are the ones I cuddle up with and talk to when Tex is away with work. And while the pets 'belong' to everyone in the house, the boys have a greater affinity with the dogs and I treat the cats like they're my children. So, I guess I am more of a cat person.

But, just to be sure, I took the Pet Personality Test and with a score of 85.7 %, I'm definitely a cat girl.

Cat Person
As a cat person, you approach life with thoughtfulness. You are self-aware and have close friends who will be there for life. The subtleties and mysteries of the world intrigue you. Your ideal Friday night is good conversation or a movie you can't figure out the ending to. Your take-charge attitude sometimes meets with conflict, but you always surpass expectations when it comes to your work. You value intelligence, grace and independence, which is why a feline friend is best for you.

What about you ? Are you a Dog or a Cat Person ?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Plastic Surgery - Would You or Wouldn't You ??

A friend of mine has just recently spent what I would consider to be an exorbitant amount of money on plastic surgery. To borrow a phrase from Bette Midler in the The First Wives Club', she had the "whole enchilada"... full face lift, neck lift, eye lift, tummy tuck and she was liposucked to within an inch of her life.

Now, I won't get started on the enormous pressure on women - and increasingly, on men - to physically conform to a single, unrealistic beauty ideal; a beauty ideal which is invariably damaging to an individuals body image because they it is so narrowly defined, uniform, and hard to achieve, that hardly anybody fits into its specifications....I'm saving that baby for another rant very shortly :)

I'm not sure that plastic surgery is the panacea to the myriad problems that some people may hope for, or that they are always happier afterwards... Having said that, I'm not averse - in principle - to the notion of a bit of a nip and tuck and regardless, strongly believe that it is a person's right to choose and not for others - me included - to judge.

But, I'm very interested in your views and so my question to you all is this: Would you or wouldn't you ? If you would, what would you consider having done (or if you are brave enough to tell, what work have you had done)..... and if not, why not ?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Hate Poker Machines

Headline in a Sydney newspaper this week: "Casino bets on al fresco gambling". Smoking regulations introduced in NSW in July last year mean that gamblers now have to go outside a premises to indulge their habit. But in an unconscionable act of greed, Star City Casino plans to create the largest gambling area for smokers in NSW, by gutting one of their harbour-front restaurants and filling it with 130 poker machines, with the aim to specifically target 18-35 year olds (yep, let's get 'em well and truly hooked while they are young and have disposable incomes).

I hate these things, these poker machines. I mean, really fucking hate them. I think they are a scourge on society and to use the words of Australian lyricist, Tim Freedman (of The Whitlams fame) "I wish they would blow up the pokies". Whilst to many people, they are a simple (dare I say mindless) form of entertainment, to millions of others, they are a highly addictive means by which to give the government more of your hard-earned via gambling taxes. For 10 straight years, gaming taxes have poured in at a rate that has exceeded Treasury's wildest dreams, rising from almost zero 15 years ago to upwards of 15per cent of state taxes today. And, let's not forget that pokie taxes are regressive, because pokie venues are concentrated near the people with the least, who not surprisingly happen to use them the most. Based on the Australian estimated resident adult population at the end of June 2005, the $15,459.7m net takings from gambling represented an expenditure of $996 per head of adult population for 2004-05

Nowadays it is the level of accessibility that exacerbates the issue. Previously, poker machines were only housed in registered clubs, which to many people were not as accessible as the corner pub. There is around 1 poker machine venue for every square kilometre of Sydney.

I have worked closely with professionals to assist people who have been affected by this addiction; those who have lost their spouses, their children, their jobs, their houses, their possessions, their life savings, and in some cases, their lives. For these people, kicking the pokies 'habit' is as difficult as kicking an alcohol or drug addiction. They spend countless hours and countless dollars in chasing the elusive 'win'. Fuck, they have better odds of being struck and killed by lightning (1 in 1.6 million) than winning the top prize on a poker machine 1 in 9,765,650). To even have a 50% chance of winning this prize playing one line a spin, would take 6.7 million button presses and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, why do they do it ? Because they are addicted; the fact that these machines are designed by psychologists to be deliberately addictive is an outrage; how these people can sleep at night is beyond me.

How the decision-making, blood-sucking leeches at Star City Casino can sleep at night is something else again.

As for the fucking government, will they step up and legislate to stop this disease spreading further ?? No fucking way, when gambling taxes accounted for a significant proportion of total state and territory taxes in 2004-05, particularly in South Australia (14.0%), the Northern Territory (15.1%) and Victoria (13.1%).

I have to be content with my heartfelt belief that karma will see this right.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ahhhhhh, Serenity !

Tex and I are off for three days of peace and tranquility (sans kid), at a wilderness retreat. It's a gorgeous place, with absolute privacy, no kids allowed, 2-person spa and is our cabin is built and set high amongst the tree tops. I've booked a two hour aromatherapy massage tomorrow, but the rest of our time is unplanned. We've packed our ipods, masses of books, lounging-around gear and our walking stuff so that we can get out and explore and hopefully get some great photos. Tex's dad is coming to stay to look after the house, our human kid and assortment of furry kids - as they all mutually adore one another, that means no stress for mum and I thoroughly relax :)

Look forward to checking in when we get back on Sunday. In the meantime, have yourselves a lovely weekend blog friends.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Becoming Emotionally Honest

We wear a mask that grins and lies
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes
This debt we pay to human guile
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile

(Taken from a poem by Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906)

Co-dependence .... Hmmm, I've got some issues around this. But, I think a big part of getting it sorted is to continue to work on emotional honesty. Emotional honesty means expressing your true feelings. I don't always find it easy to express my emotions. Like me, I'm sure many of you have picked up the idea that some of our feelings are not acceptable and should be shut away. I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father and an emotionally unavailable mother and feelings were simply not articulated, let alone dealt with in an authentic manner. Ergo, I grew up with some really maladjusted ways of coping with my problems; mostly simply denying they existed and that I was always "just perfect, thanks, just fine, yep, I'm ok".

But the problem with trying to deny our feelings is that they don’t really go away but continue to work on us from inside. Take it from one who knows, these unexpressed feelings can be a source of great suffering, sometimes much greater than the physical effects of illness. On the other hand, getting those feelings out in the open can be a great relief. Simply by acknowledging your feelings and then expressing them, you are better able to deal with them. Sometimes just talking will make a big difference; other times more specialised help may be required. But the bottom line is, you can’t deal with your emotions if they are bottled up inside.

If we are more emotionally honest with ourselves we will get to know our "true selves" on a deeper level. This may help us become more self-accepting and it could also helps us make better choices about how to spend our time and who to spend it with. If we are emotionally honest with others, it may encourage them to be more emotionally honest with us. When we are emotionally honest we are more likely not to be asked or pressured to do things which we do not want to do and will stop doing those things we do, out of "obligation" (which we invariably resent afterwards). We will also find out sooner who respects our feelings and who is worthy of spending our time with.

Scary stuff, putting yourself 'out there'; of course you risk being hurt, rejected, ridiculed, ignored, humiliated. But, I think the potential rewards make it worth it :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Amazing Sheep Fact

Growing up on a sheep farm, I can attest to the veracity of this "sheep fact" ! (courtesy of PETA)

Every sheep has a different face, and mob-mates can recognize each other, even from photographs, and even if they've been separated for years

Saturday, January 5, 2008

What's The Worst Job You've Ever Had ?

Compared to many, my feeble contribution to this post does not rate very highly on the "worst job scale". But, for the sake of getting this party started.....

I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm and one of the many gross jobs I had to do was to crawl under the shearing shed, shovel the sheep shit into buckets, put it into bags and then dig it into the dozens of garden beds in our orchard. Yes, sheep shit makes great organic fertiliser, but I swear I cannot eat sultanas to this day, UGH !

One of the other yuk but very necessary jobs I had, was to assist sheep to deliver lambs. When a ewe is exhausted after trying unsuccessfully to deliver her lamb, you need to put your arm inside her, locate a limb and pull it free. And no, the lambs don't just 'pop' out all white 'n fluffy 'n cute - there is usually an inordinate amount of physical effort required by the 'puller' to get those suckers free. And no, the poor 'pullee' tends not to lie there quietly, her hooves up in stirrups, listening to whale music, sucking the guts out of the nitrous oxide/oxygen mix while panting her way rythmically through her contractions - NO, she tries to get up and get the fuck away from you; and there's always gallons of freaky muck all over the place and all over you. Now all very well and good if you are a vet - gross if you are a 13 year old girl.

And, what's worse, my Dad was a non-believer in pocket money - so I did all of these hideous jobs for the love of it. WTF ??!!

So, boys and girls of Blogland, what's the worst job you've ever had ??

The Implausability of Satan

A colleague sent me this article by Paul Dollard; it's quite well-written and offers some insight into why the whole notion of Satan is whacko when there is supposed to be a great and powerful God in the sky !

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sex and your Teenager

My 15 year old son, Zach, and I have a great relationship; in between the ages of 1 (when his father and I divorced) and 9 (when I met and married Tex), I was a single mum (Zach is my only child) and as a result, he and I developed a very close bond. Zach has always been able to talk to me about anything, and I mean anything. Over the years, my work has meant that I have lived a great distance from my family, and so Zach and I have spent thousands of hours cooped up together in a car on interstate road trips. The conversations that deal with inherently personal stuff have usually occurred during these trips, where there is just he and I, but where the fact that I am the driver means that I can't look at him !

It usually goes something like this: Zach asks a question: "How to women masturbate if they don't have a penis ?" Me: (thinks frantically, be cool, it's ok, just give him the facts, keep the conversation going, don't be embarrassed or he will stop communicating), "well Zach, it's like this......[and I explain]

Countless questions have occurred over the years (aside from the doozy above), from the predictable, "Why did you and Dad get a divorce", (answer "because he wanted to have lots of other girlfriends as well as Mum") to the mundane, "Why is my face full of pimples", ("it's just hormones mate") to the "Why do I feel angry sometimes for no reason" ("ditto the hormones"), the "What is it with girls??". We've discussed his relationship with his girlfriend (who he's been with for almost 18months; a lovely age-appropriate relationship - holding hands, kisses, phone calls) We've also had the safe sex/condom/STD/unwanted pregnancy discussions, which have always concluded with, I'm not even interested Mum, but when I am, I'll tell you.

Which brings me to the post topic. Driving to the airport earlier this week, I knew he was working up to one of his "questions", and we batted back and forth, skirting the issue for a while, until he came up with "it"; it went something like:

Zach: "Sarah and I have been discussing sex and when we think it would be the right time. We both think we are too young now; we could deal with the physical side of it, but I don't think we are ready for the emotional issues that come with having sex. We both discussed that we think our relationship is special and that we want the first time to be really special too. We think that we'll wait until we are 16, and take it slow."

Me: "I'm really impressed that you've both had the maturity to discuss the matter so honestly and openly and that you've spoken with me about it. I'm really glad to hear that you have determined to wait at least a year, and that you have considered the emotional side of things as well as the physicality. I'm so very proud of the young man you've become and the respect you are showing for Sarah and yourself".

Yep, all sounds cool; I'm being totally cool on the surface, but inside my guts are churning. Partly because my little boy is growing up, but I was never really going to be ready for that ! But, more so because I'm not sure whether to just leave it at this, or....I don't know. At what age are kids having sex these days ? At what point do parents intervene and at what point do they back off ? Part of me is confident that Zach will come to me again if he is thinking of taking the next step, but the other part is concerned that he may not and, well, he's too bloody young.

And also, when they say they want to plan the first time so it's "special" at 16, where do they go ? My house - yikes NO ! Her home - not likely. But it needs to safe - bloody hell, I'm rambling a bit now and getting way ahead of myself, but how do you parents feel about your kids (not adult kids, but kid kids) sleeping together in your home ? Zach often has friends, including his girlfriend, stay over, but when it's time for sleep, it's off to separate rooms.

I accept that this may just be me exhibiting the "Smother-Mother" gene that my father thinks I have, and a major over-reaction to a perfectly normal situation; but if any of you amazing, been-there-and-done-that parents out there have any sage wisdom to offer me, I would be hugely grateful to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People (bit of a book review!)

Catchy title of a book I've read recently. Now, I love a good "self-help" book, but sometimes you just have to stop holding on so tight and get over yourself. I've studied myriad contemporary texts on every possible aspect of leadership, management and self-development during my working and academic life, but few have struck a chord with me the way this book has. It challenged my way of thinking about traditional workplace issues, made me smile and made me sad. It made me angry in parts and I certainly did not agree with many of his contentions - but it was a hugely entertaining, and sometimes inspiring, read.

The author, Jonar Nadar, slams diplomacy as a waste of time. He blows the whistle on the corporate and political games played out in the workplace. He discredits the rules that have done nothing more than nourish the lethargic, imprison new talent and suppress freedom. He exposes protocol as a brick wall that protects the insecure and keeps at bay the bold and brave. He calls on those who are in a position of power to lift their game.

Nadar condemns the critics who intimidate others in the workplace. You know them - critics are those whose rich and condemning vocabulary largely consists of words like: never; not done: can't be achieved: unreasonable: unrealistic: will never happen. They encourage censorship and promote the banning of all sorts of things. They prize legislation and love thought-control, promoting themselves as "mind-guards". And, they hide behind words they do not understand - like morals, social standards, ethics, social behaviour, and political correctness (yet have the gall to intimidate women, communists, capitalists, gays, and those of atypical lifestyles). Inventors, pioneers, radical, and visionaries have ventured from the lonely and costly camp of 'minority' only to be obstructed by majority-rule concepts that tolerate inferiority, hinder progress, harbour injustice and pose limits within the decaying status quo.

Righteousness. It is a timeless word that belongs to everyone. Too bad it does not unite with 'tolerance, dance with 'individuality' and blend with 'acceptability' and stay away from 'justice' - an obscure word that has legitimacy to the one who applies it, and no useful function to the one to whom it is being applied.

If you acknowledge that nothing is ever final, that possibilities are endless, that life is never simple, that a rolling stone can gather moss, that a watched kettle does boil, and that those that cry last, cry the most ... then this book may be for you !

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Years Day Bushwalk in the Blue Mountains

Taking my inspiration from Vamp, I thought I'd post a few pics taken while bushwalking with my boys today.

We are very fortunate to live in the heart of the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and never tire of bushwalking in this world heritage listed area.

We usually deliberately select walks where we are unlikey to see other people; that way we get to enjoy the peace and tranquility offered by the bush and are more likely to see some of our native wildlife.

I hope 2008 is a fabulous year, bringing lots of fun and happy times to you all.