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Friday, 28 November 2014

Holiday





There is a real benefit to holidays - you escape routine, you escape demands and most of all, you escape yourself. You become someone open to adventure, open to 'laziness', and a little more focused on the moment.

It can be one night, it can be a week. It can be overseas, seeing the world or down the road, looking at your hometown with new eyes.

It can cost a lot, or nothing at all.

Terry Pratchett sums it up perfectly  "Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving”
So dust off your ideas - house swap, camp, look for specials and fly. There is a world out there screaming for your attention, and offering you a new lease on life.

I for one, need little encouragement.

Linking up with #PracticalMondays

And if you're looking for ideas, here's some of my FAVS (yes, yes, gratuitous promotion of my travel blog - but the pictures are so pretty):
Maldives: http://holidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/the-honeymoon-is-over-otherwise-known.html

Singapore: http://holidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/its-singapore-but-not-as-we-know-it.html

Siem Reap: http://holidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/responsible-tourism-what-siem-reap.html

Blue Mountains: http://holidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/overnight-adventures-majestic-beauty.html

Hunter Valley: http://holidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/the-hunter-valley-perfect-for-gourmet.html

Sydney: http://pandoraandmax.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/my-home-town-sydney.html

Daytrip to Ettalong by boat: http://holidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/detour-day-trip-to-ettalong.html

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Conversation with Promises

There is an old Hebrew proverb “Promise little and do much” (Are there any new Hebrew proverbs? Or any new proverbs at all? I digress...).

We promise many things to many people, and then one way or another, we break them. Think New Year Resolutions. We promise ourselves a new and better lifestyle, and then we chuck in the idea by February, for the most part.

Or take the promises of the Liberal Party's Real Solutions. It was pledged prior to the election "No cuts to Education, no cuts to Health, no changes to pensions, no changes to GST, no cuts to ABC or SBS under any Govt I lead" Signed Tony Abbott. Eight months after the election, it appeared as if they had no intention of ever fulfilling those promises, given the proposed Budget. Which has hilarious irony, as I think there was also a promise to stop the lies...

However, a promise is just words unless it is fulfilled. Just words. Words to deceive, words to commit, words to bring comfort, words to break a person.

Think long and hard before you give a promise, because it's a judge on your character as to whether you uphold it, whether your actions are bound by the promises you give.

One the other hand, we need to look for the promise in situations and more importantly, in people. They may not be there yet, but if there is even the tiniest glimmer of potential, we need to help dig it out. Especially if it is in ourselves.

If we can work at digging through the mud and the dust and bring out the good, we will make the world a better place - I promise you that.

Linking up with Always Josefa for Conversations with Promises and WithSomeGrace for FYBF

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Art of Happiness (Part 3)


I noticed in this post, that I was walking around with my own dark cloud. I was fortunate enough to actually realise it, that I was making my daily life less pleasant than it needed to be.

At the Bloggers Brunch, hosted by Kids Business, this was one of the things that a number of the speakers covered. Stacey Ashley, an internationally qualified Master Coach and the Managing Director of Ashley Coaching & Consulting made the point 'How you get through your life is a choice.' She pointed out that while you can't control the circumstances, how you react to them is up to you.

You need to think about what makes you happy. Basically 40 % of your overall happiness comes from what you do and how you go about it each day. When things are tough, think to yourself 'What can I do? What one thing can I do to make a difference to how I feel or this situation?' Sometimes it's a simple as to smile (I often walk around with a scowl, apparently, so this really struck a chord with me).

Be present. Happiness is not the destination, it's the journey. Reflect in the moments that bring happiness. Note them, no matter how small.

Reframe the situation. Instead of thinking in defeat 'This is too hard!', try to ask yourself 'What can I do to make it easier'. Note you can't necessarily change the situation, but what can you do to help you deal with it.

It's up to you to build a positive mindset, and that will give you strength in the difficult times.

Linking up with Things I Know Because I really need to follow some of this advice at the moment.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Think of all the ladies on the Titanic that waved away dessert.

I'm not a huge fan of dessert (but I'll eat 10 entrees if you let me). So it is ironic that one of my favourite sayings is about dessert.

Think of all the ladies on the Titanic that waved away dessert.

Fitting with my year of yes campaign, that I'm reinstating, I won't wave away anything - experiences, not just food, because I don't know whether it will be my last chance to enjoy it.

Flippancy aside, think about it. It's sad.

World's shortest #SunshineSunday - now get off the computer and enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Open Season on Women

Does anyone else get the feeling that it's suddenly become open season on women? First that 'dating expert', then the Redfoo fiasco, and now Mark Latham. And of course, the Anti-Feminist movement.

A Feminist is a person who supports Feminism. Yep, that's the definition.
The definition of Feminism is the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

So because I think I should be paid the same as a man doing the same job, and have the right to vote, I have somehow, 45 years after the big movement (or 114 years, depending how you look at it) come up for discussion again. I am somehow offensive because I want to be seen as equal to others.

According to Mark Latham, I don't like to be around my children. In one fell swoop he insulted me because I believe in equal rights, where I live, and my ability to be a good mother.

I volunteer at 2 different schools, helping children other than my own twice a week. Do I hate being around those children too? I do this because our school systems are underfunded and need volunteers for literacy programmes (and other programmes). Instead of slagging off women, how about you do something productive about that issue, Latham? If you want media attention, make something good happen in our children's schools or is that too hard because it requires effort and thought, and it's easier just jump on a pointless bandwagon of women-bashing?

I have taken on extra children after school in ongoing standing arrangements for the last nine years. For a few years it was 2 days a week, currently only one day a week. This regular 'babysitting' was free of charge to help working women on the days that I was home, because community means helping those that need it. As a feminist, if I chose not to work, I am happy to make life easier for those that need to, or want to, because their children are part of my community. I am currently doing it to help a single dad, because that's part of equality, not favouring a gender. Apparently, I don't like being around children so much I take on more.

Are you telling me, by your own definition, when you were in politics, you hated being around your children? According to you, all women who work (or is it just women in the inner city?) don't like to be around their children. So men who work must also not like being around THEIR children too, as men can also be feminists if they don't see women as inferior beings. Have you informed your children of this? It must make them feel so good about themselves. I am glad also, that when you failed in your political venture and became a stay at home dad, it meant over night you loved being around your children. Congratulations.

Lastly, are you genuinely trying to tell me that there are no feminists outside of the inner city? That if a teen girl works at Penrith McDonalds, she should be happy to be paid a lower hourly rate than the teen boy on the register? That a female school teacher at Campbelltown Primary should be happy that her male counterpart is paid more for the same hours? That the female surgeon at the Liverpool Hospital shouldn't expect to earn the same pay as a male? I do not believe you would find ANY women who would think that was a fabulous idea.

Lastly, Mr Latham, I take it you are opposed to medicine, as it goes against 'nature's way'? You must be pro violence, because back in the caveman day, that was nature's way of getting what you want?

As a stay at home dad, am I right to assume your wife works? So in your own argument, you have just insulted her. You have announced to the world that your wife is unnatural and doesn't like being around her children. I'm sure she appreciates that vote of confidence from her husband, who she is allowing the luxury of staying at home. You do, of course, have the luxury of the parliamentary pension, funded by working women's tax, not just male taxpayers. Most of us are not funded by tax payers in quite the same way.

I am glad Elizabeth Blackburn works, I am glad Marie Curie chose to work, same with Rosalind Franklin, and countless others that have made major medical breakthroughs. I don't assume they chose to do so to get away from their children. They were thinking of humanity. How about you do the same?

(For those that missed it, Junkee posted this yesterday)

I'm not even going to ask what kind of man attacks a woman with Depression in PANDA week - but here's some facts for you, Mr Latham.



Linking up for #OpenSlather (in a lather).

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

First of the Month Fiction - December


I'm not particularly happy with this one - I was doing the B&W photo challenge on FB and I like this photo I took while I was waiting for one of the kids to be dropped off. I liked that while the door was open, it was menacing at the same time. So I wrote this but it's a bit pedestrian...may rework for something else at a later date. The idea has legs...and I love my photo, as there was no menace at all in the moment (I was just trying to be efficient for the driver), but when you look at it as a photo, it's creepy. Funny, hey?









He had held her back for so long, slowly eroding her self-esteem. She felt worthless. She’d been trapped in the cage of her marriage for so long, while he roamed carefree.

Finally, through fate, the bars were opened. She stood on the precipice. The door was ajar, but did she have the courage to step through towards the light in the distance? There was strange comfort in the cage. She had great fear of what lay beyond, though she knew it could not be worse than what she had endured for so many years.

Could she take that first step?

For newbies, rules here - everyone else, add your story in exactly 100 words or less than 30 in the comment below, and link your blog so we can see your unlimited splendour...





Linking up for WeekendRewind over at Maxabella Loves

Monday, 17 November 2014

Filling the void - The Perils of Social Media

In a discussion on boasting, the number of FB friends you had came up. Does this number reflect something, or is it irrelevant? Somebody I know was a little hurt that while they had close to 300 FB friends, only 50 or so really engaged with him, even just to press 'like'. Some of the closest real life friends took little interest in his online world.

I am fascinated with this beast that has become so much a part of our lives, how we interact and how we engage with each other. It's often hard to tell if it connects us or isolates us. There is an element that we are filling a void with our endless, often one-sided conversation. We get approval from people, often people we don't know in real life, bolstering our ego, making us feel good about ourselves. This attention is addictive. I even have a book that states the more FB friends you have, the happier you are, the theory being that you feed off a collective happiness, and to an extent, that is true. Yet there are plenty of current articles arguing the reverse.

The danger is that this need for attention can create another void in our real life relationships, which brings a very real and damaging loneliness. If we are focusing our interest on the internet world, we are diverting our interest from those actually around us. If you have ever been mid-sentence, only to have the person you're talking to interrupt and announce what they just saw on their phone, you'll know what I mean. If you are up to date on what your online friends are doing, but don't know what your husband did today, then you are focusing on the wrong area.

This excellent article sums it up perfectly. We need to stop and take interest in the people around us if we are to make them feel validated. We may not be interested in what they are doing, but the fact that they are doing it should be enough for us to engage with them on it.

We need to continue to 'turn towards' those in our lives. Focusing on those on FaceBook or Twitter is in a sense 'turning away' from those we live with.

Obviously, I love social media and spend a lot of time in an online world. It's the balance that is tricky. I've mentioned before, while I understand it's a panacea, it's also consuming, so we need to make sure we keep it under control, or risk damaging important relationships in the process. If we appear more interested in the lives of the people in our phone, we will eventually cause those that live with us, or near us, to turn away from us. No one likes to play second fiddle for too long.

If you are out with your spouse, put your phone away. If you are playing a game with your kids, don't check FB when it's not your turn - make conversation with those at the table. If you are grabbing a coffee with a friend, be present with them only.

The beauty of social media, is that it can wait.




Digital Parents Blog Carnival

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Art of Happiness (part 2)

I was lucky enough to go to the Bloggers Brunch, hosted by Kids Business, and by good fortune, it was on the theme of the Art of Happiness...I was very excited about tracking down a few of the bloggers who I regularly visit on the web, and put some faces to the names (3 dimensional faces, at least).

The formal part of the event, the talks were on the Art of Happiness. They opened with the question: when did you last have a belly laugh? Followed up with another question: are we too busy to be happy?

It's worth thinking about that. Young children laugh about 400 times a day. Adults, if they're lucky, a couple of times a day. That is sad and something to lament. It is also something we can do something about, if we put our mind to it.

OMO had a game, where you had to dig in the dirt for 'worms'. I was reluctant to do it, even the prize, a voucher, wasn't really alluring enough to interest me in participating. I eventually agreed to do it, only to look like a good sport. Unexpectedly, it altered my mood. A simple 60 second game. The pressure of the clock ticking down releases adrenaline, in a good way. The silliness of it all made me giggle. I admit, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

As adults, we are automatically accustomed to saying no. At the start of 2013, I decided I would make that the Year of Yes. It's funny how quickly we fall back into that habit of saying no, and shutting ourselves off from fun and frivolity.

So with the New Year Resolutions pending, I am making 2015 the year of yes again, and seeking out mirth.

Next time you say no to something, pause and reconsider. You never know what it might bring. Next time you take your kids out to do something fun, don't just sit and supervise, join in. They have the secret to happiness, apparently, so surely it makes sense to do as they do?

Linking with #ThankfulThursday cos I'm thankful of this little reminder & Things I Know because I know I say No automatically too often.

Family Fun

One of my many favourite quotes (and there are hundreds) on Arrested Development is on family:
George Michael Bluth: It’s like you always say, family first, unless there’s a work thing… then work first.

(We all know why that is funny, but this isn't a post about that)

This is a quick and lazy guide to finding fun things to do as a family. When the kids are little, and around the same ages, it's fine, but once you scale age brackets, there's always someone missing out...so here's a few fun ideas for people straddling tots and teens. (Unfortunately, money is an object and there isn't any free stuff listed, but anyone with a teen will be learning that).

Bowling - it is fun for everyone, and it is surprisingly expensive.

iFly - mega expensive but so much fun and everyone will love it. The shared joy and laughter is well worth it.

Fun runs - again costly but all ages enjoy the Color Run or Electric Run, the added 'fun' of the event makes it a real bonding experience.

Putt Putt - all ages love this. We go to Golf Paradise that has a deal that you get free putt putt with lunch, so we now have a ritual in the holidays.

Boat hire - either kayaks or tinnys, or if your little one is really little, there are Barbeque boats (we hired one in Berowra once) that are like floating pontoons with walls, and the teens will get a kick out of driving the boat.

Sandboarding - Our family loves this and it's great exercise and thrills.

The important thing, in all these adventures is you all do it. Mum and Dad too. And not activities where one parent and the youngest child are segregated from the rest of the group.

What do you like to do together?

Linking up for Sunshine Sundays on Family - next week the prompt is Dessert, over at Musings of the Misguided



Linking up with Weekly Wrap Up

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Proud moments...

The prompt for the Lounge this week is your top 10 proud moments. The list is long when you actually start to think about it. The most recent for me was getting a short story published in an anthology, making the long list in the Hunter Writers Competition. (Of course then my ego went into overdrive, but that's another story).

I was really proud at some of the kind things that were said by bloggers far more talented than me, on my Why I write post. Even if they were just being nice, the fact that they stopped and said them made me feel I wasn't just spinning my wheels.

I am proud that I was part of the movement that stopped all the women's refuges from being shut down. There is still work to do in this area, I am just waiting to hear what we need to do.

I am proud that despite getting on in years (and never getting on in the co-ordination department), I have pushed myself to do things I'm terrified of, and actually enjoyed them, as seen in the much neglected of late Torschlusspanik list.

I am of course exceptionally proud of my kids and my partner, but their success is their success, and I'm not going to steal any of their glory.

While putting together this post, I came across my challenge to astonish myself - I am still a little sad I've not done this ever in my life. I'm not sure how to do this but I really want to. So to make myself proud (see what I did there?) I'm really going to set to work on this one...

Lastly, I just want to say, and I'm not proud of this, it's no secret I'm revelling a little too much in my woe is me state. I didn't feel like writing this post, and was going to skip the link up completely, but as I couldn't be bothered writing the review I have due, I procrastinated with this instead. My mood, by reflecting on all these positives, has lifted so I just wanted to say, thank you for the prompt, Lounge. And to anyone else who is struggling with the crappity crap of life, sinking in a sea of uncertainty, search your blog for 'proud' and 'pride'. You'll be amazed what long forgotten memories and ideas are sitting there, waiting to cheer you up.  Also linking with #ThankfulThursdays as I'm amazed how helpful this exercise was, and Things I Know, as I know these things make me feel good about myself.

Go out and astonish yourself!

The Art of Being Happy


What a difference 12 months makes. Last year I was terrified of going to the Bloggers Brunch but this year, I'm actually looking forward to it and hoping to meet some of you face to face.

The theme is the Art of Happiness, and I'm looking forward to hearing a little more on that, as I'm stomping around in a black mood most of the time, and could do with shifting my focus a little to the left.

I just wanted to say thank you to Kids Business for the invite and I'm looking forward to seeing you all there...



Monday, 10 November 2014

What's the point of being a Princess?

I saw this in a $2 shop:

What's the point of being a Princess if you still have to hang out in the kitchen? Even if it's a luxury kitchen? Aren't you meant to be doing something better? Even Cinderella was only in the kitchen until she became a princess. If they made a doll of me, I hope I wouldn't be dumped in the kitchen. And I'm not even a Princess.

Where should a Princess be? Asleep in a thorn-covered castle? Asleep in a glass box surrounded by dwarves? In the army, kicking butt like Mulan (that's my preference but for some reason she's not a big hit with the young girls)?


To mother's of boys, I remember gleefully celebrating I was exempt from the whole High School Musical fiasco. I trust you are relishing your exclusion from this endless Frozen palaver.

Linking with Weekend Rewind


Friday, 7 November 2014

Time Conquers All



I saw this clock the other day and thought 'How frickin' depressing!' It really made my mood sink. About 15 minutes later, after stomping around in vile agitation in my head, I remembered, I usually thought of that as a positive notion, and had in fact written a post about it previously.

So I did a poll on Facebook (before you read other comments, let me know if you see this as positive or negative type of thing), and there were only 3 negatives in a sea of positives.

That is the lesson. Perception is 99% of the problem, or as Jack Sparrow would say "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem." There is no reality, only perception. If we can't change things, we need to work on our headspace about it.

I was watching the Mindy Project and someone said 'Bad things are always going to happen to you, you can't change that. But it's how you handle it that matters, and you handled that pretty well'.

So I am focusing on the Niki Lauda life lesson, because 'all the girls love Niki Lauda'...

Linking up this old post for #ThankfulThursday as I needed to reread it myself. There's a world imploding around me and I'm not able to do much to make it right for the person. I want to, it's just not something I can fix. The good news is, that in time it will heal and I need to focus on that thought, while I help them through the horrible transition. I am thankful that ultimately, time will heal this.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Tend your Garden

“People where you live," the little prince said, "grow five thousand roses in one garden... yet they don't find what they're looking for...

They don't find it," I answered.

And yet what they're looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water..."

Of course," I answered.

And the little prince added, "But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”  

This is from the exquisite book, The Little Prince. An extraordinary work. Wrapped up in a children's book, it covers the meaning of life, a way to live a good life and other existential lessons.

Happiness is the goal. But it is also the journey. Sometimes we lose sight of this. As soon as we do, we've lost our purpose.

If you find yourself thinking "I'll be happy when...", then you need to take action.
If you find yourself thinking there's no purpose, then create one. Maybe it's helping others. Maybe it's taking a stand. Maybe it's making the world a better place, in one tiny effort.

Don't ignore what's in front of you, searching for something more.

“It is the time you have spent with your rose that makes your rose so important.”

Linking with #BookNook #LLM

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Shifting Sand

I see life like a massive, seemingly endless desert. You are marching uphill towards the peak of a dune, or sliding down joyously the other side. Or standing at the top, looking over the expansive peaks, enjoying the view.

The thing with dunes is that they move. Sometimes slowly, sometimes fast.

Earlier this week I got a phone call with some bad news - I knew it was coming but it doesn't make it easier. The sand under my feet began to shift a little. There is a long road ahead of difficult and heart breaking times, and a sad, inevitable end, which I'm still not ready to think about.

Yesterday, out of the blue, I got another call, on a different matter. The sands shifted dramatically. I've lost my footing. I was totally unprepared for what I heard on the other end of the line.

I am grateful in this case for the warning. I am astounded I could be so oblivious. I'm at a loss of what to do, and hope whatever I do is enough.

Enjoy those rewarding climbs to the top. Enjoy the view. Relish the joyful slides down, with the wind in your hair.

Happiness is fleeting and life can't be planned. So treasure those good times, as they are the goal.

As the landscape shifts, and shifts again, remind yourself you can dust yourself off and reset your path. There are new peaks to climb and the view from the top will be just as awe-inspiring when you eventually get there.


Linking up with Things I Know, because I know this to be true.

Monday, 3 November 2014

New trend alert - Summer Shimmer

I went to Totem on the weekend, the fabulous new Cirque du Soleil show which just hit our shores. You don't need me to tell you it's fabulous. It is. It always is.
I was very taken with some of the performers strutting around in body glitter (male and female). That was huge in the '70's. What a big mistake that it went out of fashion! So I'm saying to you, let's bring it back in!
This summer, if you are out to a party, festival or club, slap on some glitter! What could be more festive? What's more uplifting?
We are constantly telling the kids about the magic properties of fairy dust, so lets heed our own advice and make our world a little more glitzy...
Who's with me? (Just be thankful I didn't decide we should all dress as South American Indians - cos it was 50/50 on that count, I was equally taken with the fluffy leg things. Just my whole big ass and lack of ripped mid-drift put me off).

If you do join me in the glitter campaign, let me know if it lifted your mood and dazzled up the night! I have a cocktail party, a 50th, in 2 weeks - and I'm already stocked up and ready to go! It will even go with my shoes!

Otherwise, if you see a sparkly old lady roaming the streets, come over and say hi!


Linking up with some Grace for FYBF & Maxabella loves

I'm a little reluctant to link the clip, as I prefer the element of surprise, but for those who have never been, and had no intention of going, maybe this will lure you: