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Thursday, 28 November 2013

How do you decide where you are going?

This is not an existential pondering, but merely a quick question. How do you decide where you are going on holidays?

Do you have an ideal location? Do you always go to the same place because you know you'll like it?

I have just discovered, I've become someone who goes to where we can get cheap airfares. I have now twice booked cheap fares into Singapore, then looked at where to go once we're there (last time Malaysia, this time possibly Vietnam). I did also spend a few days looking at flights into Lombok and Krabi purely because I could get cheap AirAsia flights to KL, and they were the most appealing options for the 6 night window we had. However, we went with the even cheaper flights into Adelaide...

We are a family of five, so the flights kill our budget. I have become a huge fan of budget airlines, as it's given us a few more options.

I realise it's quite a crazy mode of operation. So I thought I'd ask, how do you decide where you are going on holidays?

Also, the First of the Month Fiction link up is open until Monday, if anyone wants to write a teeny, tiny story.

Linking up With Some Grace for FYBF

Monday, 25 November 2013

First of the Month Fiction - Christmas edition

Seriously, where did the year go?? Last month of the year!

 I have 2 stories this month - one inspired by the Thought of the Day from Me, at My Journey:Are we there yet? She sent this "Every time you are tempted to react to the same old circumstances in the same old way, ask yourself, “Do I want to be a prisoner of the past, or a pioneer of the future?"
I thought of a victim of domestic violence finally leaving her relationship, but that was too hard to cut down to 100 words (I will come back to that idea for a longer story), so it evolved, less satisfactorily into this:

It had been coming for a long time. She looked up and he was fawning over the blonde again. Always the blondes. She wasn’t interested in this Christmas party and she knew it was time to leave. Leave the party, leave the marriage.

A waiter approached.

“I’ve been watching you. You look very sad. I see the ring but I have to say this. I clock off at 10. Do you want to go for a drink somewhere?”

Suddenly she knew that things could be different. She didn’t need to always feel this way. With a smile, she said “Yes.”

 I've also written a second one, because it is Christmas and a time to celebrate with those you love:

Santa always grew a little lonely this time of year. He was busy and stressed. He knew it all came down to this one night – and he had to get it right. There was sometimes an emptiness to his existence.

Later, as he finally dropped into bed, dawn breaking Christmas morning, he noticed a small box beside his pillow, wrapped beautifully and adorned with holly. He glanced over at his sleeping wife and smiled. Everyone else just liked him for what he could give them, but she, and only she, truly loved him for himself. Warts and all, for eternity.

Please join in in the comments below then add your blog to the link, rules here for newcomers.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Time

When I read the prompt was about Time - I thought I'd repost my What I learnt from Rush. Point 6 is probably my biggest lesson in Time, the importance of Time, and that it can be the best gift we have.

The short version, for those that don't know, is that Niki Lauda was burnt in a car crash, and greatly disfigured. He had countless skin grafts to his face, and at the time (in the film), said he had a face that would always horrify people. Yet he has always been one of the most popular drivers in F1, and judging by the women he was linked to after his divorce, his looks didn't impede him at all.

I want to always remember, that no matter how difficult or painful the current ordeal, time will put it into perspective. So while time can be unkind, or down right cruel as we age, it is also a gift that eases pain, or diminishes drama.

My favourite saying, however, as a convert who lives by FOMO (the good FOMO, not the jealous kind) "Do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of"

And that, as they say, is all that I have Time for!

Linking up with Kirsty for I Must Confess

PS. As for point 4, in the Rush post, this woman was rockin' the 70's hat. I really am going to start wearing one all the time!

10 things I love/hate about the Festive season



What I love about Festive Season:
1. Lots on, plenty of catch ups and parties
2. I get to give a lot of gifts
3. Lots of great food to eat
4. Family get togethers
5. It's the holidays


What I hate about the Festive Season:
1. Lots on, plenty of catch ups and parties (I get tired)
2. I have to think of a lot of gifts
3. Too much great food, and I eat it all
4.Family get togethers ('nuff said!)
5. It ends, and we start all over again.

Happy Christmas to you all, see you on the flip side. Safe travels and enjoy the break everyone!

Linking up this old post with #ChristmasLinkUp, because we need to remember that there is a flipside to everything we do. If something bad is happening to us, remember there is a positive in there somewhere. If everything is going swimmingly, pause to appreciate it, as the reverse could just as soon take place.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

What I learnt from The Counselor

For some reason this film fails a little, when it probably shouldn't, given the cast. I think it's partly because there seems to be scenes & characters that have the sole purpose of delivering an eloquent speech full of "Meaning", which makes it all a little eye-rolling. I love Bruno Ganz (Hitler in Downfall), and kept waiting for his character to come back. Then realising towards the end of the film that there was no point at all to his scene, except to tell the "Cautionary" speech. Some one needs to remind Ridley Scott of the Chekhov tale of the loaded gun....

Javier is brilliant, and probably the most complete character in the film. Which makes the whole film seem odd as the main character is little more than a stick figure. (Sorry Mumabulous) However, probably still worth a watch and here's what I learnt from it:

1. A masher is a man who attempts to force his attentions on a woman - I had to google it, and will now start using it at every available opportunity.

2. 'You don't really know someone until you know what they want'. I had never thought about this before, but it is actually quite valuable advice. We walk around thinking everyone thinks like us, with the same values and beliefs, but it's worth looking a little deeper into the motivations of people sometimes.

3. Lastly, and most importantly, 'If you think you can live in this world and be no part of it, all I can say is you are wrong'. They were meaning it differently, but consider our consumerism and it's costs,  consider our impact on the environment and all the other issues that our daily actions impact upon. I love this quote. It is the argument against those that say "What can I do? I'm only one person" or "Why should I worry about it when all the other countries are using more energy/causing more pollution etc".

Lastly, I have to ask, why do Americans spell Counsellor differently? Where does that come from?

Linking up With Some Grace for FYBF?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Joyous (Cartwheels part 2)

I set myself the challenge of doing a cartwheel, in order to show my daughter how to do them. I was terrified at the prospect of this, thus added it to the Torschlusspanik list here.

So the afternoon came and we headed to the backyard. I tucked my dress into my undies (as I learnt to do as a kid with my school uniform - it was pre-skort days). This in itself was astonishing for my little tot to watch and induced a barrage of questions.

Then came the moment of truth. I did one. I didn't smash face first into the ground. Nor did I dislocate my shoulder. There was a stretch in my inner thigh, in a muscle that has not been used for quite sometime, but other than that, it was easy.

And fun.

My daughter gave up after a while but I stayed outside and did a few more. It had been a really awful day that day, with niggling irritations, and little things going wrong, so I was in a fairly dark mood by the after school period but a few cart wheels in, and my bad mood dissipated. I was suddenly joyous.

That's what's got me wondering. I understand it's the chemical release, and the silliness of the exercise that caused the carefree joy that ensued. Why do we stop doing something that makes us feel good? As little kids, we do them all the time. In high school we stop, but why? I don't remember actively thinking that I wouldn't do them any more, I just didn't do them.

The older I get, the less I understand the human aging process. We replace everything fun and joy inducing with mundane, soul destroying tasks. This is celebrated as becoming an adult. What a waste of existence.

So, take my advice, if things are getting you down, head out to the backyard and try a few cartwheels. Within minutes you'll be overtaken by a wave of joy.  Go on, try it!

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT. Also linking with the One New Thing a Week Challenge, over at the Mystery Case.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

What I learnt from The Butler

This is a little different to the other 'What I learnt from...' series, with a little less frivolity and silliness. I saw The Butler by default, as the Chinese movie I wanted to see had finished, and so had apparently Percy Jackson. So I went to The Butler because it was on at the right time - I really liked it, though it didn't show me much I didn't know, except maybe that Bobby Kennedy was a little more influential than I realised. I'm not going to talk about this shameful historic period of time. The biggest thing I learnt from that movie, is that human beings have so much potential to be truly supreme beings, and yet we are still routinely doing horrific unthinkable things to other human beings.

And I mean here. In Australia.

Think of our current stances on Marriage equality, on Refugees, on a myriad of fund cutting the services for lower socio-economic groups, our blind-eye consumerism and the list goes on. I don't really have a solution, but I'm pretty sure twenty years from now, we'll be embarrassed by what we currently considered acceptable.

There is a line in the movie, 'We turn a blind eye to what we do to our own, but sit in judgement of the rest of the world'. I think that is the nutshell of human nature. Perhaps we need to pay a little more attention to our own behaviour. I don't know how we start change, but I know raising it to the consciousness as a problem has to be the seed of thoughtful living. How to make that seed take root and grow will take time, but it is definitely something worth considering.


PS The other thing I learnt is that I totally LOVE Oprah - I don't care what anyone says, her heart was in the right place with that show. (and yes, I did nerdily take that photo in the cinema like a weirdo)



Linking also with I must confess - head over and tell Kirsty how you feel.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Cart wheels

I have promised my daughter I'll teach her how to do cartwheels tomorrow. The only problem is, I haven't done a cartwheel in well over 30 years. I'm old, unfit and a little brittle-feeling in the bones. When I wanted to hang upside down from the monkey bars a few years back, it took me ages to get the courage to let go.

I used to be able to do it. Easily. Not now.

And I feel the same about the cart wheels. I'm scared I'll go smashing face first into the ground.
Or dislocating my shoulder like a friend of mine, when she tried to do one with her kid.

Why is that? Why, as we age, do we get scared of what we used to do all the time without giving it a second thought? Shouldn't we use that experience and memory to make us confident? This seems to be a huge flaw in human design.

So, I'm putting it on the list, so I have no option to chicken out. Will selfie from hospital should that eventuate.

Thus, the current list now reads:

Torshlusspanik List:


1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking (check)
8. The Color Run (check)
9. Invent something
10. Cooking Masterclass (check)
11. Master a Masterclass (check)
12. Perform a rap song (check)
13. Trampoline adventure (check)
14. BMX Riding (check)
15. Do a cart wheel.

Linking up with Grace for FYBF.



Thursday, 7 November 2013

Confidence - women in the media

Last night on Facebook, there was a photo of an over-weight woman in her underwear posted on a site run by women saying 'This sort of strength and self-love should be celebrated not derided'. It was obviously click bait to make us say she looked fat, or had huge health issues. My issue is not even with the cheap tactics used to insult women. My issue, is that it reinforces the idea that women are to be objectified on their looks. Not only that, women should see their self worth in their ability to post naked or semi-naked photos of themselves on the internet. Way to go, female empowerment!

If you are a site for women, perhaps a good way to promote confidence in women, is to tell the stories of confident women that actually DO something. There's a thought. A confident woman who can play with the big boys, not just send them sexy photos in her underwear.

I hope this site understands they can never criticise politicians for condescending to women in the workplace, or rappers for objectifying women, if they themselves encourage the same condescension and objectification, encouraging confidence by saying 'Strong women are ok with naked photos of themselves'. You can not have it both ways.

To paraphrase Tina Fey, I would say strong women get things done.

Here's a little story of a confident woman and action that I would celebrate. Elizabeth Blackburn is a scientist, she won the Nobel Prize for her discoveries in cell research (short version, she discovered 2 things that are integral in understanding genetic diseases and cancer, and thus aiding eventually finding cures). That, however, is not the bit that we're celebrating in this story. She was on the Bush panel for Council for Bioethics. When he took a stand on stem cell research, she didn't agree. She walked in and had the confidence to tell him to shove it. I'm pretty sure she wasn't in her underwear or naked at the time. She didn't actually tell him to shove it, she argued her beliefs, and was subsequently let go, as a result. She publicly told the media why she believed she was let go, and why she believed it was the wrong course of action for the Bush Government to take. That is strength and confidence that should be celebrated. Standing for your beliefs, even if it's at your own detriment, or by achieving great things, that's what we should using as our yardstick for celebrating confident women.

I understand that body image is a huge issue for women. I would prefer if the women in the media encouraged women to look at action and achievement, not the outer casing.

Can the merit of a woman not be her ability to parade around in her underwear, pandering to men? If women reinforce that, how can we then get annoyed with men that objectify women?



Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Riddle me this, once more...

1. Why do I always forget to set up the google analytics code? And how do I make it happen automatically?

2. Do you eat soup or drink soup?

3. Why didn't Americans adopt the metric system, especially when they fought so hard to get rid of the British? (I believe there are only 3 countries not metric these days)

4. Do any other countries, other than America,  call autumn 'Fall'?

5. What is the job title of a food court cleaner - you know, the person that clears the rubbish and wipes down tables?

6. What are clicks? (as in three clicks west). Are they actually kilometres? So why does the US army use metric?

7. What countries are on the equator?*

8. How thick is the equator?

9. Is the earth an actual sphere, like the globe implies? If so, how is that possible?

10. Why don't I seem to know anything any more?

I have a confession. These questions all came up at dinner after the Melbourne Cup (except #1). I was asked by my kids, and failed to have answers. I have googled the answer to number 7, because I was tired of sounding like an idiot who didn't know anything about anything at all. This is what happens when you eat dinner in a food court with inquiring minds.

So without further ado, the countries on the equator are as follows (let me know if you got them all):

From Africa eastward...
  1. Sao Tome and Principe
  2. Gabon
  3. Republic of The Congo
  4. Democratic Republic of The Congo
  5. Uganda
  6. Kenya
  7. Somalia
  8. Maldives (the equator passes through the territory but not on dry land)
  9. Indonesia
  10. Kiribati (the equator may or may not touch dry land)
  11. Ecuador
  12. Colombia
  13. Brazil
(from http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/equatorialctys.htm).

Have your kids stumped you with a question lately? Or do you have one yourself, that the Universe has confounded you with? Or better yet, do you have an answer?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Phone calls in the night

We've all had them. We all hate them. There is nothing worse than being woken by a phone call. It is never good news. The bell tolls death, disaster or misfortune.

My husband is off in New York, running the marathon - literally. I went to bed at 2am having watched him cross the start line on an app. At 5.50 the phone rang. In a groggy haze of confusion, a man explained that they couldn't find my husband. His belongings were in the room still, but they hadn't been able to find him for two days. I was panicked and felt a wave of nausea descend. My world contracted to a confused tunnel. "What do you mean he's missing? What's happened?"

Then as the man talked more, I realised it was the hotel (though I'm sure they must have said that at the start of the call, and I'd not been awake enough to register). They thought he was due to check out yesterday. They'd extended his booking as a courtesy but no longer knew what to do.

Ah, sweet relief. It was nothing - 'He's running, right now, as we speak.' We extended the booking another day and I gratefully hung up, though adrenalin coursed through my veins, so there was no going back to sleep.

I found the booking confirmation, which had the correct dates, so I have no idea what the problem was. Just one of those things.

My thoughts, however, have been with those that received that call after Boston. Or after Sept 11. Or after any ill fated trip. I can not fathom the cruelness of the distance and remoteness, the echo in the phone line, the confusing time difference, all adding to an already terrible call, heralding your world collapsing.

I am thankful it was nothing. I am counting the days until he returns even more keenly than before.
I am wishing that we were all spared those calls in the night.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

List of places I want to visit...

I wrote this list 3 years ago and I've managed to get to 2 of the destinations...(though not the Ha Long Bay part of Vietnam, so that's still on the list).  I would probably add to it, though there's nothing I'd take away!

So where do I want to visit - money no object, of course, because money being the object is why I haven't been yet. And that's just dull!

In no particular order:






1.Hawaii - I want to see lava fall into the ocean on Big Island, and monk seals just lazing on the beach. The massive crater and ziplining over Akaka Falls. So much splendorous beauty in nature.

2. Lapland (or there abouts) to see the Northern Lights.

3. Vegas - because I love a freak show. Disneyland for adults.

4. Antartica. Amazing.

5. South America - to watch the Dakar live.

6. Belgium - no particular reason, just thinks it looks like my kind of place.


7. Vietnam - Ha long bay look amazing!

8. Wilson Island - not so much for the island it's self, I just want to hire out an island for my own private use. http://www.wilsonisland.com/

9. Great Wall of China. Looks great, 'nuff said.

10. Mauritius. Just think it looks lovely and with a lot to do. Simple as that.

What about you? What's on your list of places you want to visit, and why?

Linking with #IMustConfess Where would you go for your dream destination?

What lifts me up when I'm down...

The quickest pick me up, other than eating junk, which I'm trying not to do, is to blare music in the car and sing along! Something groovy and uptempo. Of late, when cranky (which has been frequently, of late), I've headed back to Pigeon John, The Bomb. The clapping releases endorphins - try it out. You'll see...you can't stay sad or cross if you're clapping.


The other luxury, if I have the time, is escape down to Cottage Point for a swim and respite from the real world. Nothing lifts my spirits like the smell of lemon myrtle and the sea views. Just a tiny piece of paradise in Sydney.


If time is of the essence, I try to grab a quiet half hour in the bath or on the deck in the sunshine with a book - the naughtiness of indulging instead of doing whatever I'm meant to be doing often recharges the batteries. Ditto with sneaking off to the cinema.

 
Music, Movies, Reading & Scenery. That about sums it up for me!
What about you? What are your pick-me-ups?
 
Linking with Kirsty for I must confess.