Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Would you sell yourself

Would you sell everything you loved and wanted from your life in exchange for something else? Not just for money, although that's the obvious example. I mean loads of other things as well. Gadgets, big house, security, security, certainty even. Status quo. Comfort.

Years ago I found myself 'sold out' in that way, if you like. In multiple situations I didn't want to be in but had no idea how to change them. I swapped certainty and money for those things I truly wanted. I sold myself. I acted without bravery and as a result I sold myself way short.

I did eventually find my courage and changed my situations. Less certainty. Less money. It took a long time. And a lot of courage. But guess what? I now have everything I always wanted.  Everything.

It is so hard to live a life sold short for something. It's never worth it. It's always better to take the leap and find the courage. I found it so hard but I did it. And it was worth it!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Black Friday 2012

Have you seen some of the footage on YouTube of Black Friday 2012?

Being that I work in the retail industry, I was mildly curious when I read this article in the Age today.

Oh. Boy.

It's mass hysteria on crack. Seriously. I watched, completely horrified at the extent of hysteria. The screaming. The grabbing, and shoving. The fighting. The desperation. It's just awful.

It reminded me (a smidge) of our sample sales at work. Your brain just goes a bit crazy with all the amazingly cheap clothing and the fever in the air is absolutely contagious.

The footage made my skin crawl, and made a familiar bubble of anxiety creep up my throat. It made me very, very glad I wasn't there, at those Black Friday sales.

It also made me feel a momentary sense of gratefulness that I've found some stillness in my life. I've been desperate in my life. Not for a bargain...but for emotional calm. And now I've found it I'm extremely grateful for it.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

My first trip to a therapists office

I first decided to try therapy a few years ago. At the time I was working an extremely stressful job, was married and had a couple of tricky things going in in my life. I found myself feeling a sense of sadness that I had not felt before. And although I'm a cryer through and through and I don't find melancholy uncomfortable this sadness was just a bit different. I cried much more often than usual and one quiet Saturday afternoon during a particularly protracted cry my then husband very gently suggested that maybe it would help if I could speak to someone about the tricky stuff going on in my life.

The extremely stressful job came with free therapy sessions - 3 per year and more if 'needed' (if that's not a disclaimer to becoming a lawyer, good luck to you) - and so I rang the confidential service to arrange an appointment.

My first ever therapy session was hilarious, in retrospect. I cried from the moment I walked in until around three-quarters of the way through the session. I walked in, sat down, and the lovely psyhologist gave me an intro into what the sessions were all about. Confidential, safe to say anything I needed to, could talk about work or personal stuff etc etc. He then said, "what has brought you here today, and what would you like to achieve with our sessions?"

I started to explain that I had this huge well of sadness inside of me but tears prevented me from explaining and all I could get out in between tears was "I'm just really sad".

"What is making you sad?", he asked.

We sat in silence a moment (apart from the teary noises on my side of the room) as I tried to compose myself enough to speak. He gently nudged over a conveniently placed box of tissues, poured me a glass of water and waited patiently with me while the wave of sadness passed.

"I wrote a list." (More sniffles).

He looked impressed that I'd prepared for the session.

Not even bothering to try and read aloud I handed him the list. While he read the list aloud, to make sure he was reading all of the items on it correctly, I cried softly and nodded.

We went through that list together. Issue by issue, focusing more on some and less on others. It was brilliant. I saw him for the 3 full sessions and by the 3rd session it felt like more of a chat than a therapy session. Those sessions saw me through for a good while.

I still felt sad but was much more okay with it and not worried that the sadness meant something else.

I remember speaking with one of my aunties afterward about my experience with therapy. She was very kind and gentle with me and said that sometimes our lives get really tangled like a ball of wool and it's helpful to have an objective person help us untangle our tangled mess.

I love that analogy and for me it resonates deeply. Sometimes I find if I pick impatiently at a piece of tangled mess my own emotional attachment to everything can result in those pesky little tangles becoming huge knots that are impossible to undo. But a therapist, someone who cares but is objective and at arms legnth, has a much better ability to stand back, assess the tangle, and go in carefully to tug here and there until it's a bit looser and far more manageable.

I love that.

I was so lucky to have stumbled across such a wonderful and gentle therapist with whom I had a great connection - on my very first time. And although I still see a therapist (though not the same one, I've since moved, my current therapist is also wonderful) I'm extremely grateful to both for all their assistance over the years.

My ball of wool is still a bit tangled, but less so now, and actually I've quite fallen in love with some of the messiness in my life.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Gratitude journal entry no. 1

I have days where I feel I am deficient in some way. Sometimes I feel like if I was just a little bit thinner, or had a little more patience, or a little bit more money, or lived somewhere different or had a 'better' job, or a little bit more of [blank] or less of [blank], I'd be happier / more satisfied / more financially secure / or whatever.

None of that is true, though.

In the last few years I have made some fairly hilarious decisions. Some of them great. Some of them didn't work out. I try not to beat myself up about any of it, but use it as a learning tool and something to grow from. Oh! And I had a loooooonnnnnng ways to grow. Trust me on this. (Still do.)

So, there was the time I thought I wanted to live in this beautiful loft apartment in the city. It only had 2 windows and no balcony but I somehow talked myself into signing the lease, moving in, and redirecting all my mail. Then, after around 6 days of steadily increasing panic about the decision I'd made to live there, I left, moved out, called my agent and broke my lease. Oops. Expensive lesson (though I must say the agent was very gentle with me during the break lease process - lovely guy).

Oh, and there was also the time I thought I wanted a different job. I needed a challenge, that'd fix me (*fist pumps the air*)!! So I got myself a recruiter, found a job I thought I'd love, and even though I wasn't certain about what to do, wasn't being offered much more money and was being encouraged by more than 1 person to just stay put (and that I'd had just a little too much upheaval in the preceding years), I somehow talked myself into signing a new contract, giving notice at my existing job, leaving my wonderful job (that ticked 8 out of 10 boxes), and starting at the new role. Then, after 2 and a half days (I'm sorry to say I am not joking) and 3 panic attacks, I left at lunch time on the Wednesday and never went back (please don't think I'm awful, I did tell them, I just couldn't go back). Oops. Mortifying lesson. Luckily I managed to get my old job back through a stroke of ridiculously well timed coincidence. Or perhaps it wasn't coincidence. Anyhow.

There were a few other ill-made decisions in there which I care not to go into right now, but suffice to say I ended up deciding to stay put in all my areas of life for a while to see what happened and to give myself a bit of time to breathe and to recover from a lot of things that somehow went awry in my life.

It's done me the world of good. It's helped me realise a few things: a). there ain't nothing wrong with taking your time (contrary to what I used to think), b). standing still sometimes is the only way to hear what your heart is telling you (and yes that is a line in a Missy Higgins song, thanks Missy - it resonated with me), c). reluctance and uncertainty tells us something and that should be considered and taken into account in our decision making process, and d). when we're rushing all over the place like ferrets (or squirrels, if you like) trying to fix everything it is much more difficult to actually do ourselves any good.

Sometimes we just need to just stand still, take it in, process it, feel it, and then take a little step forward.

And that's what I've been trying to do (it doesn't come naturally to me I must admit and it's taken me a good few years and I'm certain I'm still 'getting there'). Standing still, and just having a look around.

I've been very pleasantly surprised. I've found out some stuff I didn't know, and also some stuff that I did know but have a new appreciation for. I feel pretty grateful for a lot of stuff in my life. And when I just sit still with my gratitude it's really hard to feel that sense of dificiency that I described above. I find myself feeling lighter and more grinnier (not a word, but I don't care!).

I have a new appreciation for my own company. I've always enjoyed just hanging out with myself but lately I've made a pointed effort to let myself be me more. Sometimes I don't do anything in particular, just chuck on a CD and sing until I have pins and needles in my face (it must drive the neighbours nuts). Sometimes I just talk to myself (*giggles*). Sometimes I take myself on a date, like to the movies. I've taken myself out for lunch and it's great coz I can eat whatever I want....!!!

Also, I've been reminded time and time again that I've the most incredible family in the history of all time. They've seen me through good times, tough times. We laugh together. We cry together (it's usually just me crying though). And I can share stuff with them. And I'm super lucky that at the moment I get to work with my sister! Yup, that's right, we get to have lunch together every day! Ahhhh. How amazing is that?!

I've the most incredible boyfriend in the history of all time. He's patient, handsome, hilarious, silly (like me), intelligent, passionate and very kind hearted (he has a huge heart). He's loads of lovely things. I'm very proud of him. And I enjoy having him by my side in life. We laugh. A lot. About silly things. Just the way I like it. We seldom fight and when we do it's always pretty tame and always fair. I think the worst argument I can remember us ever having started on our way home and (as usual) I cannot remember what it was about. We got sooo frustrated at each other (*pauses to chuckle*) that we couldn't even walk beside each other so we stomped along Brunswick Street sort of walking together but with a good metre or two between us. Then out of no where, even though he was fuming, my incredible boyfriend reached out his hand to hold mine. Still keeping a bit of space between us, but reaching out to hold my hand. It was an incredible gesture and it's an attitude of his that I really value. I've said for a long time that finding the right person is finding the person you want to share life's sh*t with (as opposed to someone you just have a good time with - although this is obviously important too). Coz life does throw us difficult times, but if we have a person to hold our hand and stand by us through the worst of it then isn't that the most incredible thing ever? Bonus points for still enjoying each other during the rough times.

I am also insanely grateful for the wonderful friends that I have made over the years. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful and terrible people can be - but that the friends I've made and kept over the years are truly in that first category and of the truly wonderful kind.

My job has also done some pretty wonderful things for my life. It's given me balance and time to be creative. Just wonderful.

And my beautiful apartment. It's like a soothing cup of tea for my soul. I did an exercise a few years back where you write down everything you want. I was reading it the other day and I realised (actually it was my boyfriend who pointed it out), that the bit I wrote about what I wanted in an apartment has all happened. It's just wonderful, it has everything I want for this point in my life. I picked it, and I pay rent for it. But I'm still extremely grateful to have found it.

I've been reading a few books written by Brene Brown (they're incredible I cannot recommend her work highly enough). She talks about writing gratitude lists, and writing down what we want in life. I'm not sure how it works exactly but it did for me, even though it took me a while to get there - and obviously I made it happen - I guess it kind of cemented what I wanted and I set about making it happen. Anyway I am grateful. And so I wanted to express it here for all of you!

Something I have realised (maybe just now) is that I'm extremely grateful that I've grown to find writing such an outlet, and I'm not certain I would write as much if no one else read it. Some of the feedback I have gotton over the few years I've been writing on this blog has been just lovely. Most of it from people I know but that's okay, there has also been a couple of really lovely things written by strangers. And I've grown very fond of writing on this blog.

So thank you.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fast forward the hard bits

I looked in the mirror today and saw myself grinning back.

I've done a lot of hard work and been through some pretty difficult stuff in the past couple of years. During the really hard bits I found myself wondering if I'd ever come out of it. At times I desperately wanted to fast forward into the future, to a time I was just me and happy again. I'm not saying the last few years have been all bad. There have been magnificent (amazing) bits - and certainly this past year has mostly been fantastic - and I wouldn't have changed anything.

Today I just realised that you can't fast forward through the hard bits. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes things really suck, and that's okay. Time moves us on anyway. And we make it in the end, with patience, persistence, hard work and determination.

We can't fast forward through the hard bits. But we can be kind to and patient with ourselves. And to others. And we can hope that when the hard bits arrive the people in our corner will be kind to and patient with us.

I looked in the mirror tonight I saw myself grinning back. I couldn't fast forward but I made it here anyway.

[Picture taken by my wonderful boyfriend Peter Geranio]

Monday, 29 October 2012

Juicy Pear Jelly Belly

Jelly Belly Jelly Beans are hands down my favourite jelly beans in the whole entire world.

True, I love anything sweet, so jelly beans aren't necessarily my favourite thing in the whole entire world. But Jelly Belly Jelly Beans are delicious and most certainly the best of all other jelly bean varieties.

Now, of all the Jelly Belly Official 50 Flavors, one stands out from the rest:

Juicy Pear Jelly Belly.

Have you ever tried one? Or three thousand (which of course I do not recommend)? They. Are. Incredible.

Somehow the Jelly Belly Jelly Beans people have managed to create not only the taste of pear perfectly, but also the texture and juiciness of the pear perfectly. Perfectly!

I remember (years ago), sitting with a very good friend of mine, tucking into Juicy Pear Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. Neither of us could contain our amazement at the preciceness with which the Jelly Belly Jelly Beans people  had captured the magic of the pear.

After a while it occurred to us that we might just eat pears instead of food which so closely imitated an actual pear, but nonetheless.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

We love Brene Brown

Have you heard of Brene Brown?

If not, click here for her website, and you MUST listen to these talks by her on (we LOVE on:
  1. The power of vulnerability, and
  2. Listening to shame 
(in that order too).

She is an incredibly compassionate and passionate woman who has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame (refer to the bio on her website for more).

It is extremely intruiging research, and I find myself quite drawn to it.

Imagine my excitement to discover (I can't believe it took me so long) that she has written, not one, not two, but three books! Hellooooo!

The thing I love most about her research and the results that she speaks about, is that an essential part of happiness is shame and vulnerability.

It seems so simple, but it is something I had personally struggled with my entire life. Until quite recently, that is. I'm learning to accept myself warts and all (though not literally), and love my life as it is. Shame, vulnerability, and all.

We love Brene Brown!

Sweetness in sadness

Sometimes sadness can be such a sweet feeling. Make no mistake, sadness is sad. But there is a sweetness to it too.

For me, reflecting on past hurts can carry so much emotion. Some rawer than others. And it runs deep. I tend not to experience numbness from strong emotion, although sometimes I do bury it - it always comes out in one form or another.

I find crying a cathartic and effective way to release pain. Oh, how I do love a good cry. To just feel those fat tears rolling down your face, and sob a bit, and then it passes and the tears dry. Sort of like evidence of the pain passing. I love to really feel that sadness. Not wallow in it, but feel it, and release it, and move on.

Other times I find a good release is to have a big sigh, if a cry seems too much. You just take a deep breath and let it out as noisily as possible.

Just breathe in. Hold it a moment. And let it out, go on, make some noise.

Repeat if necessary.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Mary Ryan Photography

Last week I launched my new Facebook page for Mary Ryan Photography!

I have found the photography part of my business has taken off the most and so I am focusing on that for a while. It has been just so much fun and I have received a lot of really positive feedback! Any more feedback, of course is welcome, negative, positive or neutral.

To check out my photography Facebook page click here.

Friday, 5 October 2012

One of the best holidays ever

Dedicated to my dear friend, A.

One of the best holidays I ever had, I spent at home.

I wanted a week off to do not much of anything. I wanted time to take some photos, and set up my website, and eat breakfast out and read the paper every day. I wanted to just decompress.

So I took a whole week off from work (annual leave). And I stayed home.

Each morning, I slept until 9.30am. Each morning, I showered, dressed and got myself over to Newtown SC for breakfast. I ordered the museli most mornings - it's delicious - and a latte. Sat in the window seat and read the paper.

By late morning I would usually feel like plugging away at the website or taking photos of my vintage stock.

I read magazines, and spent a lazy afternoon at My Beautiful Laundrette.

I meandered around Fitzroy and Collingwood, and had a massage.

I basically did nothing, and it was just wonderful.

One of the best holidays ever.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Monday, 24 September 2012

We need more compassion and empathy for refugees

We live in a wonderful country.
We take it for granted that we have more than enough water to go around.
We have food and sanitation and waste collection and order.
We have electricity and gas, heating and cooling.
We have health services. And get this, often those services are free (for example if you go to a public hospital or a bulk billed doctor's service).
We have subsidised medicine via the PBS system.
We have education for our children.
And our women can vote.

Sure, our country has some issues, plenty. But in relation to the fundamental building blocks of living a happy life, we have ours right here. And we forget because we've moved to the next level of complexity in life. We have the basics and so our mind re-focuses on other things. Sport. Politics. Current issues. Relationships. Celebrities. TV. Sometimes we need something to remind us that these things are first world problems, and that many people in the world do not ever get to worry about the same things we get to worry about. They're busy worrying about how to get clean water, or food for the family. They're worrying about getting sick and not being able to work. Sometimes they're worried because they live in a war zone. But for us we forget all of that. It's so far from our minds.

Today I got my reminder. It slapped me across the face.

I navigated my internet browser to to see what the celebs were wearing to the Emmys. I saw this:

Are Australian's refugee laws too soft? [In response to this article: 'Soft laws' bring pretend refugees.]

They had to be kidding, right?

I can't get over the lack of ignorance on this issue.

So. First: what (or rather who) is a "refugee"?

Refugees "are ordinary people who have been forced to leave their homes to escape human rights abuses, such as violence, persecution, torture, or worse". [Source: Amnesty International]

It is not illegal to seek refuge (or asylum) in a foreign country. The only thing you have to do is seek confirmation from the Government that you are entitled to refugee status.

Did you know that in 2010 only 5,500 asylum seekers arrived at Australia's borders seeking refugee status? For the whole year.

Think about how many people live in Australia already. It's around 22.6 million according to Google.
How many towns and cities and places to live are there in Australia? 2 thousand? 3 thousand? I've no idea but we have a big country here.

Consider that we are not a small nation. We have plenty of land, food, water etc. We have a large population. When you look at the figures, 5,500 asylum seekers is not a lot.

Think about the meaning of "refugee" again.

It is a person.

Seeking refuge.

From human rights abuses, violence, persecution, torture or worse (such as war or natural disaster).

Refugees are people (just like you and me) who are asking for help. By the very definition they are seeking refuge. If you were faced with war or violence or persecution would you ask for help or seek refuge someplace else? I would!!!!

This is not something that we should get our pants in a knot about. We should be encouraging our Government to approach this issue with sensitivity, compassion and creative thinking. And we should NOT be encouraging our Government to "come down" on these people.

I can't solve this on my own. But I can ask publicly that before you jump up and down about refugee and asylum seekers just have a bit of a think. Walk a mile in that person's shoes. Maybe research the facts first.
I am disgusted at how many people voted 'Yes - Australia's Refugee laws are "too soft"'. And I am incredibly disgusted at for even putting a question like that out there - even if it was in response to a stupid article quoting something someone wrote.

So disgusted I wrote an email informing them I'm not reading their stupid news site anymore (copy of email is below).

I am not asking anyone to write to or boycott the news site. But PLEASE for the love of God, PLEASE can we have some compassion for these sorts of issues? And can we PLEASE have a little THINK before we jump up and down about refugees and other immigration issues?

Because, God forbid, if were ever to need to seek refuge or asylum ourselves - I'm pretty certain we'd want others do the same for us.

Email sent 24-09-2012:
Dear Ninemsn,

Are refugee laws too SOFT?

I went to your news site today:

I saw a "vote here" question: "Are Australia's refugee laws too soft?"

What is wrong with you?!?!

First. The question is framed in a completely biased way. A question like that is completely leading. Too Soft? I know this is a topical issue at the moment but don't newspapers have an obligation to present the unbiased facts? Oh, that's right, I apologise. You need to appeal to the broader public and create sensationalised content. It's just such a shame you're doing it for this particular issue.

You might not have voted but I cannot believe that >31000 people voted "yes" understanding really what they were saying.

I voted "no". How can you even stage such a ridiculous vote?

All Australian's (except Indigenous Australians) are refugees in some way. And before you get on your high horse about the legality or illegality of how we all originally got here - I might point out that Australia was not in fact settled - see the High Court Mabo decision. I'm happy to forward it to you if you don't have a copy.

The refugee issues in Australia are actually quite complex and should not be reduced to Papa Bear fairy-tale "too hard" or "too soft" rhetoric. Those issues require much more compassion and creative thinking. What we don't need is a mob of red-neck Aussies wielding pitchforks at non western people. And you are inciting that with your ridiculous vote.

I did not previously hold your news website in the highest of regards but you have lowered yourself beyond anything I had imagined. In my mind you are now in the same category as **** and ***, i.e.: sensationalised propaganda rubbish.
I did go to your news site today. Shamefully.
Rest assured. I won't be going again.

Mary Ryan

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Green is the new black

I'm a bit of a greenie at heart, and lately I've been reading all sorts of blogs about living a greener and more sustainable life. There is so much information out there, it can be quite overwhelming.

So gradually, I've been taking a mental note of what I do that impacts the environment and produces unnecessary waste or wastes unnecessarily - and thinking of small ways I can change all that. Consistently and achievably (so I continue doing it).

Here's what I came up with:

Waste/r:  Take-away coffee cups!

An obvious one. I'm including it for statistical impact.

I have 1 take away coffee every work day.
1 paper cup per day, 5 days per week, 48 work weeks per year = 240 cups per year. I'm 30 now. If I work another 30 years in my life that's 8400 paper cups. That is a lot of everything. A lot of trees. A lot of chemicals. A lot of transporting the cups. A lot of landfill.

Solution: Eco cup. I now have a fabulous Lock & Lock eco cup, which I take to work every day and then wash out with the rest of my evening dishes. Too easy. It would have taken more effort and probably more resources to make - but if I'm careful it should last me at least 5 years if it doesn't break. Hopefully longer.

Saving: at least 7200 paper cups! 

[Picture: Eat Me Daily, The Beta Cup Challenge to Create Recyclable Coffee Cups by Ann Marie Awad.]

Lads, skip to the next bit. Period talk coming.

Waste/r:  Pads and tampons!

Have you ever looked at a pad in the morning and thought, what a waste, there's only a tiny spot or nothing even came out! I'm a lady. I cycle every month for 5-7 days, let's round it to 6 per month. 13 cycles per year. I've had my period since I was 14 or 15 I think (I can't remember). Let's say 14. I probably use 7 pads per cycle (mostly at night time and around the house). That's at least 91 pads per year. If I keep cycling until I'm (what is the average?) 52, that's another 22 years of using pads, which is another 2002 pads in my life.... *sigh*


These things are amazing. They're basically non disposal pads right? Too easy. They clip around your nickers like padded wings, but without the stickyness, with a press stud. Made from flannely cottony fabric, they're so soft in your knickers (far, far more comfortable than disposables), and with all the pretty fabrics you'll be excited about that time of the month. 

Before you freak out, two thoughts: we don't always opt for disposable nappies - and it's really no different to washing a pair of nickers you accidentally leaked onto. They come with instructions on how to wash, it's all very hygenic and easy to do. You just need an empty icecream/yogurt tub to soak in cold water, then you chuck in with the rest of your laundry!

They come in different designs and different absorbencies. I got 2 to try initially but have gone back for a few more. At approx $7 for liners, $9 for super thin...right up to $17.50 for supers - and lasting 5 years if you treat 'em right - they're incredibly cost efficient and will save a lot of space on land fill.

NB: I am currently working up to trying Diva Cups. Not 100% sold on that yet.

Saving: at least 2002 pads!

Waste/r: Paper towels.

Every time I go to the loo at work I use paper towel to dry my hands - 2 sheets actually because 1 just doesn't cut it. I go to the loo alot, maybe 4 or 5 times during the work day. 8 sheets per day, 40 sheets per week, 1920 sheets per year. If I work another 30 years that's 57600 sheets for the rest of my working life, potentially.

Solution: Dry my hands on my clothes, flick dry, or use a towel (there's one in the kitchen or I could BYO hand towel). 

Saving: 57600 sheets of paper towel!

[Picture from Discard Studies blog, Debut Guest Post! Friedman’s “Washing Up” by Robin Nagle. Thank you Robin it's a great pic!]

Waste/r: Flushing.

Again, I go to the toilet a lot. That's a lot of flushing and a lot of toilet paper.

Solution: Use less paper. If it's yellow...let it mellow, etc. This is something you can only really enjoy if you either live alone or with a partner. (Sharehousing and letting it mellow ain't cool.)

Saving: Potentially hundreds of litres of water.

Waste/r: Bottled drinks, in particular water.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much you're paying for bottled water? At $3 for 400ml that's $7.50 per litre! Also the bottles really mount up. I'm talking all bottled drinks, but in particular water. We are so lucky we have beautiful water that comes right out of our taps. And yet I find myself thirsty, and looking for the nearest store I can buy water. Crazy!

[Picture: Battle of the Bottle by Rachel Browne.]

Solution: Stainless Steel Eco water bottles. They look great, they're BPA free (not that I know what that is but it sounds good...something to do with chemicals found in plastics)...and they last. You buy one, then you refill it over and over. Saving heaps of water bottles.

Saving: I'll be saving $7.50 per litre of water in the future, as well as hundreds of plastic bottles.

[Picture: Eco News, Research shows bottled water consumption slows by David Twomey.]

What do you do to cut down on waste?  

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


It's Liptember!!!

I am wearing lippy (something I never do) throughout September (Liptember!) to raise awareness for women's mental health issues.

Loads of people have sponsored me already (thank you thank you thank you) to wear lippy in Liptember! If you would like to sponsor me too click here and follow the instructions. It's easy! Every dollar helps.

All money raised goes to Lifeline and the Centre for Women's Mental Health (at the Royal Women's Hospital).

Both amazing causes, Lifeline is a 24 hour crisis support service connecting Australians with trained volunteers who can provide emotional support to anyone, anywhere, anytime. The Centre for Women's Mental Health is the only gender specific mental health clinic in Australia, providing national research and programs for gender specific mental health issues for women.

Having lived through a period in my life experiencing extreme anxiety I have utilised the Lifeline service a couple of times. The people that work there provide amazing telephone support for people in crisis.

To sponsor me use this link!

Or don your lippy this month to show your support!


Sunday, 12 August 2012

30 days (well...32 days) 80 photographs

 Around a month back I listened to this fabulous post on TED.comMatt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days, and it inspired me to try something new for 30 days. Well, not new exactly. I've been taking photos for a while now, but I decided that I wanted to try this 30 day thing, and taking a photo every day for 30 days might just be the way to introduce the challenges to myself.

So here we go. 30 days (well it ended up being 32 days coz I got sick with the flu towards the end of the challenge and lost my will to get out of bed)...and 80 photos.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Childhood favourites

When I was a little girl, it was just me and my Dad for a while (until I was 4). After dinner my Dad would often cut up a piece of fruit for us to eat. Oranges were cut into eight and eaten in their skins. But pears, pears were my favourite. Dad would cut of the top for me to eat off that little pear stalk. I love eating pears that way, even now, it always takes me back.

Dad and I had loads of traditions like that. He played his acoustic guitar most nights. Whenever he changed his guitar strings, I always helped. I loved watching him take the strings out of the little square paper packets. The string was placed carefully over the little peg that goes into the bit (I should know the terminology but I've forgotten) and then travels up the neck and threaded through those tuning peggy things. And then he would tune, old school with a tuning fork. He always tuned his guitar and then played a song (he'd written himself I think, my Dad was a muso when he was in his 20s). It was always the same song.

I loved those times. Of course, it was wonderful when my Mum came along! But I still enjoyed those times when it was just me and my Dad.

[Image source: The Nature Food (nature livings blogspot): Vitamins and minerals - Pear, click here]

Thursday, 12 July 2012 my first 30-day challenge

I am a huge fan of

I recently came into possession of a car (for the first time in years! see my previous post here). Anyway, my darling boyfriend helped me set up a phone dock and an AUX cable in my new car so I can listen to music through my sound system strait from my phone (how handy is that? I call him 'Technological Man'). I can also download podcasts and listen to those. Or listen to episodes of Frasier (another favourite of mine).

I digress, apologies.

Lately I have been so addicted to listening to talks on I was listening to one this morning, Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days - a really wonderful talk (and not very long), I really recommend having a listen.

Cutts makes this really great point that has just stuck in my mind: the next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not, why not do something new?

So...why not?!

Cutts kicks off his set of 30 day challenges with a picture challenge, take at least 1 picture a day for 30 days. I've had an idea kicking around in my head for the past year or so - it's a bit more involved than 1 picture a day for 30 days, it's more like 1 picture a day for 1 year, of the same place (to see the seasons changing). Whilst I will leave that challenge for another day (just at the moment), I'm going to set myself Cutts' original challenge, to take 1 picture a day for 30 days in a row. It's been a while since I took regular photos. And I miss it. To borrow his line, "what am I waiting for?!!"

Okay so it's not exactly new-new (for me anyway), but it'll be something different in my recent habits. And Instagram will get a work out, which is always fun.

Wish me luck!


Day 1
Taken with Instagram [ichbin_mr]

Spinning top

Dinner, Hunky Dory on Chapel Street, South Yarra

Music takes me there

A few days ago I put a CD on that I hadn't listened to in a while.

Immediately it took me back to a really, really happy time in my life a few years back. The feeling was so vivid, it was almost like reliving it. It took me back to when I had a newfound sense of freedom, and a release from a life that I found oppressive in many ways, and one that caused me a lot of pain. It was a time in my life when I lived in a really wonderful apartment, and it was just my own. I was meeting new people, making new friends and new connections. It was a time in my life where I would return from work feeling happy. I would put this CD on in my CD player and play along on my bass guitar (terribly, but nonetheless). I would sing, and dance around in my apartment and feel happy and alive and hopeful - something before that I had not felt for a very long time.

Sometimes I would sit out on my balcony and feel so, so happy that tears would just spill out of my eyes.

I still have glimpses of that feeling from time to time, when I have little reflective moments back to my life before.

And then I just feel so grateful. Grateful of my life now, with all it's lumps and bumps. Grateful of everyone in my life - the people I've really chosen to surround myself with. Grateful for hope, and love, and happiness.

And, of course, grateful for music - something that can immediately transport me back to a feeling so vividly. After all, you can choose which CD you put in the CD player!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Almost 5,000 hits, what a milestone!

I'm not sure if this is good, or pathetic (considering I've had this blog for over 2 years), but I'm about to reach 5,000 hits!!

What a milestone!!!

Thank you all for reading.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Look me in the eye, by John Elder Robison

Have you read Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs? Fabulous book. A little confronting at points but fabulous nonetheless. You'll laugh out loud I guarantee it.

Well, Augusten has an older brother. He writes about his brother in his book, but from memory he's not around a lot (as he's quite a bit older than Augusten).

Well. His older brother is John Elder Robinson, and he has written a book, Look me in the eye. It's a book about growing up with Asperger's.

It's incredible. Engaging, funny (the laugh out loud kind), thought provoking, so insightful, inspiring and above all, interesting. I've found it quite hard to put down, and have devoured it in record time.

You won't regret reading it. A wonderful insight into the life of an amazing man with Asperger's - from day dot to well into his adulthood. His stories are incredible, and his story is incredible.

I highly recommend reading it.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Unexpected solutions

Sometimes solutions come from the most unexpected of places. For the first time in more than 3 years I have my very own car to drive. I am quite excited about the prospect of a little independent freedom. For me this opens up so many more options and opportunities and makes so much of my life just that little bit easier.

For quite some time now I have lived very close to CBD areas (first in Brisbane, then in Melbourne). Close to public transport, and close to other amenities. Public transport is easy once you get used to it, actually much preferable in some ways (no stress of petrol, car repairs, and you can read on a tram) and taxi's fill in the more difficult of journey challanges. For a very long time I've prided myself on not having a car, and getting around (mostly) on my own.

But now I'm excited about a new chapter! I will be able to get around relying less on my friends and family for favours (have you ever tried to move house without a car? Carrying 40 (empty) boxes home on the tram over a number of trips isn't much fun...and taking Ikea furniture home on the tram isn't great either -though I only did that once), and instead maybe return a few for a while!

I never thought I'd feel proud for owning one, and I'm still not certain I am proud exactly...but I am excited.

And I can still catch the tram.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Going to India? What you simply must pack!

A few months back I wrote a post about packing for india. I have subsequently been to India, and so I thought I'd provide some insight into what I ended up finding useful during my journey.

My first piece of advice would be to pack as lightly as possible. Take a backpack that you can sling over your shoulder and be on your way. You never know when you'll be on a bus or a rickshaw and luggage really just gets in the way. I had a small backpack (by backpack standards, around 30 litres) and even that got in the way a bit. Having said that let me say make sure you have enough room in your pack for everything. My pack was literally busting at the seams - which was also pretty frustrating.


My recommendations on what to pack
  • Shoes that you can slip easily on and off (as in some places you need to remove your shoes before entering).
  • A spare pair of walking shoes that have grip, especially if you head up north, where there are lots of hills. And socks!
  • A smart phone. Or at least an MP3 player. My iPhone basically saved my life. I had a few episodes of my fav TV series (Frasier) which became invaluably helpful during looong train/bus/car trips. Pack an iPod or an iPhone. You won't regret it. Loads of hotels and restuarants have free wifi too - so you can tap into that resource as an added bonus.  
  • Gastrolite and Gastro-stop (enough said).
  • Wet wipes.
  • Antibiotics.
  • A jumper. This might sound strange as it's hot in India right? Well, if you head up north to Dharumsala it gets quite chilly at night - and you'll need something to keep you warm. Even just a pair of long socks will help ease the cold.
  • International power point adaptor - for India. India has different electricity plugs/sockets.
  • A spare ATM card, mine didn't work over there. Luckily my cousin-Ji's ATM did work so we pooled funds and I transferred money to her when we got home.

If you're a woman, take:
  • Tampons, you can't get them in India.
  • A long skirt or long pants (loose) - to make sure your legs are covered when you visit temples and the like. As a general note, it's not offensive in India to stare, and if your legs are showing, chances are you'll get stared at. If you're not okay with that, cover up as much as possible.
  • A light weight scarf or 3. I used one to sleep on, one to go around my neck if I felt a bit vulnerable (to cover up any cleavage/decolletage), and one to cover my pillow at night. I picked really light weight ones, so they took up no space, and they were so handy.

My tips for the journey in general:
  • Don't worry about taking laundry paraphernalia . Most hotels have laundry services, and if they don't there'll be a service nearby. Usually laundry costs next to nothing, maybe 100 rupees (which is around $2AUS).
  • To save on battery life on your iPhone/iPod/iPad, switch off all your cellular data, and turn on airport mode, and turn down your screen brightness as low as you can manage. It'll prolong your battery life in ways which will amaze you.
  • Learn a few words in Hindi. The locals will LOVE you for it.
     "Hi" = "Namaste"
     "Thank you" = "Dhanyavaad"
     "My name is Mary" = "Meraa naam Mary hai"
      To address someone politely add a "Ji" after their name, eg say "Dhanyavaad Madam Ji" to thank someone really politely.
  • Check the tops of water bottles to make sure your cap is sealed and you're getting purified water.
  • Get into the head wiggle. It's addictive.
  • Change and small notes are hard to come by, so don't give away your small notes/coins if you don't have to!  
  • Keep a few coins in a pocket or a place easily accessible and away from your other money. In the event you come accross someone who asks for money and you feel compelled to do so, it's much easier doing that than fishing around in your wallet stacked with 1000 rupee notes, to find change (and much less embarrassing).
  • Be prepared to see some pretty horrific stuff. But you'll also see some pretty amazing stuff, so as long as you're prepared, you should be fine.
  • Never admit to anyone that it's your first time in India! Pretend you know what you're doing even if you don't.
  • When someone quotes you a price for something - if you're in the mood to haggle - halve it then halve it again and that's closer to what you should be paying. If they quote you 200 rupees, you should only pay closer to 50 rupees. Having said that sometimes you'll be too tired to haggle. And sometimes you won't care.
  • Despite the above it is polite to tip waiters, drivers, hotel staff, anyone that provides you a service.

Questions you will be asked when travelling in India:
  • Where are you from?
  • Where are you going?
  • Is this your first time in India? [Always say no!]
  • Are you married?
  • How educated are you?
  • Can I take you to a hotel? [Just say no.]
  • Are you looking to go shopping? [Just say no. Then if you do want to go shopping find your own way there.]
Don't take offence to any of these questions! It's just their custom.

What did you find handy on your travels in India? I'd love to hear about them. Or do you have any hot tips?

Click here to see more photos!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

All My Friends Are Dead, by Avery Monsen and Jory John

Sad and sweet and funny and insightful, all rolled into one lovely and wonderfully illustrated book.

Clean up your space: clean up your mind

It occurred to me today that there is something so valuable about productivity. Yesterday I had a really productive day, and a really productive evening, and I felt fantastic. In control, moving forward, calm, and, well, productive.

I didn't conquor the world, I didn't even conquor any of my fears. What I did do was research the car I'm thinking of buying, get up to date on all my work, organise my workload for the week, and then when I got home I did a load of laundry, cooked something delicious for dinner, organised a few mail outs, tidied a little, washed dishes and sat down to enjoy Masterchef with my boyfriend.

It felt really good. It made sense. Is this what life is about? It is as simple as productivity?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


Is there anything more wonderful than watching passionate people do that thing they love to do? Cooking shows have always been a favourite of mine. Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, The Cook and The Chef, you might say the lifestyle channel gets a work out when I'm around. And then there's Masterchef.

I know, I know, they drag everything on and it's suspenseful and probably unnecessarily so. But I love the enthusiasm. The judge's enthusiasm, the contestant's enthusiasm. The excitement and the tears, I love it all.

I hear Masterchef is in a little trouble in the ratings department. I'm pretty much devastated. It's one of those shows I look forward to, even before a new season starts. I have such fond memories of sitting in my apartment and watching the plot twists and turns. Of yelling at the television when things get intense and even at times getting a bit teary when things don't go well for a favourite. At times the contestants feel like friends.

I hope the producers get it right for the public so it stays on air. I love Masterchef!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bhagsu training

Want to get fit super fast? Come to Bhagsu (India) and stay in a hotel at the top of the hill, near Singh Corner. Whatever you do, shopping, eating, even just wandering around, you have to walk up the extremely steep hill at least a couple times each day. The thin mountain air makes breathing just that little more difficult. 10 steps and your chest'll be heaving. By the time you leave you'll be fit enough to run a marathon.

Raining in Bhagsu

It's raining in Bhagsu, Dharumsala. The rain is beautiful, even more beautiful now we're back at our hotel, sitting propped in bed with the windows open, leggings, socks, pants, t-shirt, jumper, 2 scarves and blankets. Still cold but warming up.

I've my book and I understand a cup of hot chai is on it's way...made the local way and hand delivered by my mate bed (thanks C!).

The rain is getting heavier and heavier and I'm glad I'm rugged up at the hotel.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Mama Momo's momos

Mama Momo's momos in Mcleod (near Dharumsala, India) come highly recommended, at least by me, my cousin J and my mate, C.

A momo is similar to a dumpling, but is momo (more) delicious.

Mama Momo presides over her Tibetan kitchen cafe in Mcleod, comfortable with certain knowledge her cafe is one of the best. Beating off annoying travellers.

Not impressed by requests for garlic sauce on the side, and extra tofu on top. Menus snatched from the travellers and slapped on top of the fridge.

Not impressed by an arrogant smoker, smoking inside the cafe, "be careful if police come they will fine you, and be careful of me too!"

Our momos came out. Steamed vege momo with sweet soy sauce. Steamed spinach momo with sweet soy sauce - the freshest green food we've eaten since arriving. Scurvy worries (at least mine) resolved. Fried cheese, which is really fried vege momo with a little cheese. Not as fat-bomb as we initially thought.

Halfway through we realise our mistake. So many momo's, will send us into a momocoma. Leaving for momonap.

Mama Momo even has change for a 500 rupee note. We love Mama Momo.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


To imagine India: tis not difficult.

Close your eyes and imagine polluted air with the smell of incense and spices and poo. Picture crumbling buildings and extremes in opposite nature, beautiful architecture and utter disrepair. Add a generous number of cows wandering around, and also plenty of dogs and goats. Groups of Indian men staring at you, uninterupted and unashamedly. People bugging you at every corner offering goods, services, rides, food or asking for money. Cars, bikes, trucks, tractors, rickshaws, vehicles of all kinds swarm the streets swerving for the smallest of gaps. Imagine beeping and honking, constantly. Constantly. Beep beeeeep beep beeeeeep beep. The road rules here are easy: beep, wave (with your hand), flash your lights, and pray for good luck. We've seen 5 car accidents in the past 3 days. It is so noisy here.

Men who run the shops will strike conversation with any westerner. "Hello madam ji, you are good?...where are you from?...would you like to see my shop?..." It is always the same.

There are places here though that somehow feel so peaceful. When you stand in these places it all just stops and the beeping ceases and it's just you in the quiet.

We're exploring Jaipur tomorrow: the pink city. I'm so excited - we only arrived here a few hours ago but already this place is incredible. I can hear beeping from my hotel room but it's a fair way off and it is lovely up here in our beautiful room.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Crying myself thin

Recently I wrote about coming off Effexor, the wonderdug (read it here). What a rollercoaster! Withdrawal symptoms are so real it almost feels like I'm back in square 1 (I'm not, but at times it feels that way).

My handsome and incredibly patient boyfriend will attest to my violent mood swings. Affectionate and bubbly one minute...raging fury the next. The fury is usually followed by a marathon crying session. Guilt and remorse for the outburst, and frustration at my fury. My body feels dehydrated from all the crying. So many tears. Puffy eyes. Crying is not too unpleasant, but being unable to identify the source of the antipathy is a little worrisome. And worry leads to frustration and fear, which leads to more crying.

And, apparently (from what I've read anyway) this is a 'normal' part of withdrawal.


Energy then exhaustion. Energised then depleted. Happy then sad. Hopeful then something like fear. Determined then defeated. Right now all my feelings are in opposition.

Thankfully I have the red toolbox. Oh it's been so handy. It's pretty much full to the brim of lovely things. Lying on my bedroom floor and flicking through all the love in there is wonderous. I'm so glad I took the time to put it together.

Also, and probably most thankfully, there is no anxiety, just grumpy and crying. Maybe the Effexor suppressed it and it's been lurking in there just waiting to come out!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

My 100th post: my red toolbox, and coming off the wonderdrug

It is fitting that my 100th post (this post) is about my red toolbox, and coming off the wonderdrug, Effexor. I originally started writing on this blog to somehow get out some of the tangled mess in my head - and, as it turns out, writing has really worked wonders on me. Writing has become an outlet that I miss now if I don't do it for a while, much like yoga or ice cream.

When I look over some of my earlier posts I recall (with a sense of gratefulness, being somewhat detached from it now) the lost feeling I felt so acutely for a time, and this intense fear that I would be in a horribly dark and lonely place forever...and never quite be 'me' again, or that I'd never be the same. Well...I'm not the same, but in a good way, somehow stronger now. More accepting of myself. More content. Happier. It was a dark time there for a while.

A couple of years back I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder (a technical way of labelling having loads and loads of panic attacks). At first therapy was enough to treat it but eventually it came to a point, I like to refer to it as my 'spiritual crisis/emergency', where I needed a little something extra to get me over that 'Everest'. So I went on Effexor. At first, going on drugs frightened me, beyond any words I could ever write here to express just how terrified me.

But, here I am, just over 1 year on after starting it, and I took my last Effexor (hopefully ever) 2 days ago. No more. It's finished. I'm moving on. (Just to be super clear I weaned myself carefully off of it with my docs direction.)

It's a horrible drug in many ways. It kills things that shouldn't be killed, and it makes you get fat fat fat. Horrible. I don't want to say it saved my life, but I feel I do need to acknowledge it's wonder somehow. I went on it 2 Christmases ago, and took it for the shortest possible time recommended for the long term benefits (12 months).

All I needed was a little a shaft of light to open up for me so I could exit my cave of horrible anxious darkness, and Effexor did that for me. It let me rejoin the world so I could rebuild my life. It didn't fix me. It allowed me the energy and the inclination to do everything necessary to fix myself. And that's just what I've done. I feel quite proud of how far I've come, the journey (sorry, such a vomitous word) I've been on, and the things I've learnt along the way. It makes me tear up a bit.

For a time I was unable to eat, sleep, or even manage a smile, for days at a time (and at it's worse, even longer than that). On a bad day books, magazines, even television were all out of the question. It was just empty emotional pain coupled with acute fear that it would somehow get worse.

I would "wake up" after not sleeping or sleeping restlessly at some point during the night and my body felt as though it weighed 3 tonns. So heavy I could barely move. At first I thought that's was because I actually couldn't manage moving my body, but after listening to a podcast by someone who'd been through something similar (and I'm sorry but I can't remember who, there were so many podcasts at one point), learnt that in fact despite feeling horrible I had to remind myself that I did in fact have control of my arms and legs and I could command that they move. So that's what I did.

It sounds incredible now, but even deciding what to wear in the mornings was too much. Usually the acuteness of whatever it was I was feeling would abate somewhat during the afternoon, at least enough that I could distract myself with television and download podcasts to listen to. So each evening, once I was feeling okay, I would lay out my clothes in preparation for the morning, and prepare for the next wave of acute anxiety. I tried not to expect it in case it was self-sabotague, but prepare the basics just in case.

As soon as it was light enough in the morning I would command my arms and legs to move, get up, put on the clothes I had put out for myself, grab my iPhone and headphones and walk. I would walk and walk and walk and walk. Every cell in my body would scream "noooooooo you can't do it", but I walked anyway. I would walk to the beach, and sit and watch the water for a while, and then walk some more. There's nothing like watching the ocean when you need perspective.

I would try and smile back at the strangers running with their dogs who would wave and say "good morning". Sometimes I could manage it without wanting to yell at them, desparing of my own jealousy at their normality. It seems almost funny now.

I listened to this amazing audiobook by Paul Vincent, "50 Things You Can Do Today To Beat Depression" (listen to it here on YouTube). The first thing I remember him saying was, "there is no one thing will cure your depression". I was so angry, until I realised what he meant. You have to do lots of things to feel better. His theory is to spread the load a bit...that there are 50 things will each make you feel 2% better. So combined, you'll feel 100% better if you find and manage to do those 50 things.

It gave me an idea. See, I'm such a visual person. I need to see things to understand them. I started think about what made me feel better about life in general. Family. Friendship. Love. Doing things. Anythings. I started small (*laughs*). But then a wave of anxiety would come and wipe everything away like water wiping away words in the sand. I needed some really bright paint on some sturdy rocks, so that the words would appear again once the water had subsided. I needed constant reminders of the 50 things that made me feel better. If I even had 50 things.

If only there was some way I could store visual representations without having to read so that at the height of my anxiety I could literally hold physical reminders of the happier version of myself, to just hold them, my tools to happiness, and wait for the anxiety/fear/terror to abate.

I needed a toolbox. Specifically a red one, as red is my favourite colour. I needed to fill it with my 50 50 tools. My therapist was so excited about the idea, that he (literally then and there as soon as I furtively mentioned the idea) got up, went to the next room, got his own red toolbox (which happened to be vintage, another favourite of mine) and emptied it out right there on the floor - and insisted I take the toolbox and start putting my idea into motion that very day.

So that's what I did.

It was actually a lot of fun thinking of how to physically represent all the things that needed to go in there.

My drugs went in there, obviously. Effexor and Alprax (like Xanax). Okay. 2 things, 48 to go. My headphones went in there. 3. A book that my Mum would read to me that was also very helpful (Ross Greenwood's, "In the unlikely event of an emergency"). Massages were a huge help. Massage oil! 4, 5. My family, friends and boyfriend all needed to go in there...that's a tricky one, aside from photos (too easy) in went some string! 6. Writing, too easy, a pencil and a writing book. 7. Bev Aisbett's, "Living with 'IT'" (a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant book). My doctor's business card. My therapist's business card. 8, 9, 10. A mini shoe, to represent my walking. 11. A sea shell, from the ocean. 12. Quickly, the toolbox started to fill with everything that I found helpful, and I found myself looking for new things to add to it.

My red toolbox always sat open, in a place that was easily accessible. So that any time the anxiety came on, I could rummage around my toolbox to find something helpful. I had so, so many massages during the worst of it. Massages are so great, for me it is impossible to feel anything but relaxed in one, and they often calmed me to the point of happy.

And love. Love was the real clincher. All types of love too, I'm not only talking about my darling sweetheart man (whose love is undoubtedly incredible), my friends, and my family (I'm lucky to have such wonderful people around me). I'm also talking about kindness from strangers, and courage from people who have shared their own stories, self love, and love for particular hobbies, places, or activities. Just love, generally.

And so now I feel like I'm nearing the finish line. My last Effexor capsule 2 days ago and I've been anxiety free for almost a year now. I have a few reminders, that keep me humble, but nothing unhandleable. I feel sturdy now. Ready for the next chapter. Grateful, and content.

Most importantly, I still have my toolbox, literally brimming with tools that help me in life. It sits (still in a prominant position in my room) closed for now. At times I open it and have a rummage, but I no longer need to go to it very often.

What a fantastic way to celebrate my 100th post.