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Monday, 18 February 2019

Expressions of Love - Love is all around


Valentine's Day in Sydney seems to see the shops festooned with these...however, as mentioned before, Valentine's Day now competes with the Lunar New Year, which seems to be a larger commercial success for the shopping centres and businesses so the lanterns and other decorations overshadow the hearts and roses these days. A tradition I like because it is more inclusive of the single and recently divorced people...













We had dinner at home but walked up the road to have a cocktail, play some Banangrams and pacman. Was home again in forty minutes, but all in all a great night. Expressions of love aren't in the money spent, but the enjoyment had.


With a party on the weekend, I was busy organising and this is my favourite photo! Totally Baller! The party was a way to thank my 'village', the people that have got me through my life so far - those who run in to rescue me when I need it, or those who just turn up to make the good times happen.

The minute Valentine's Day is over in Sydney, the Mardi Gras decorations come out. Expression of love of a different kind. Marking a protest, it's now a celebration of acceptance and pride. Remember, diversity is being asked to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance. While there still seems to be a lot of jerks in parliament (and 32 certain schools), most of Sydney just wants to dance, with everybody.





Happy Mardi Gras, celebrate your friends and share the love - which ever applies.

Linking with #PictorialTuesday #WorldlessWednesday #ThruMyLens #TheRandom #WWOT #WWOAT #RubyTuesdayToo  #OurWorldTuesday #TravelTuesday (as it's Sydney from a cultural perspective)

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Sunday, 17 February 2019

Self care

I've written a lot about this (What lifts me up when I'm down) - there's a lot of low costs ways to keep on an even keel, and it time poor, there's way to build it in with other activities, like driving or walking to your next appointment. While it seems to always be the thing to go first, you need to always remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. You need to reset your emotions, and be strong to deal with life's rough seas.

Music is a big pick up for me. Be it singing along in the car (and you have to sing loudly), or seeing a live gig. I've found dancing really elated my spirits, so with a live music venue up the road, I even sometimes go as 'an exercise class' - just turn up, dance, go home. Playing music in the shower is my new start to the day and really set me off with a bounce.

Upping the exercise is a big one - frequent exercise has the same effect as an antidepressant, so if time poor, I try to steal 20 mins on the exercise bike at home. Ideally the bay run with a friend while we download our problems is a great destressor if there's a little more time.

Helping others - this is a strange one, but I think your problems loom so large, but when you set about helping others, it puts them back into perspective. When I did my 'share the dignity - it's in the bag' shopping, it really gave me a buzz, and helping a friend makes you feel better (and they feel better) so it's wins all round.

Our minds race ahead at quantum speeds, so we are anticipating every terrible outcome when we hit stumbling blocks. Being present in the moment slows that down, and helps calm us. I've found looking for photograph set ups is a good way to appreciate the little things. I notice the 'good light' as the sun goes down, the pretty flowers in the street, the strange and funny things that abound around us. You don't need extra time for this - the walk to school, the trip to the shopping centre, picking the kids up from soccer. It's just noticing what's around you in your daily activities.

Audio books - if you aren't getting time for the therapeutic book in the bath, or even to read, then audio books as you drive are the perfect way to 'read' new books and treat yourself. I was driving for two and half hours each day when visiting Dad in the hospital as he slowly died over a number of months. It was physically draining and distressing. However, if I listened to great books, I would not only be emotionally better on arrival at the hospital (my thoughts had been distracted), but the time in the car was barely noticeable, because I was enjoying it! I've said it before, but Augusten Burrough's 'This is How' really got me through a difficult time, and I was able to make the most of my visits with Dad. They are all my family is a really brilliant story. But your library will have plenty, new and old to choose from.

Ideally we have time to go for a swim in a beautiful outdoor pool, or run on the beach, or even the time it takes to go to the gym and do a class but often we don't. So these are great self care methods for me while I'm still doing the tasks I need to do.

What do you do for self care?

Linking with Denyse for #Lifethisweek  #DreamTeam #TwinklyTuesday and #StayClassyMama

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Loving Books, Loving Life.

I've had a lot of things to do and places to be this week, so the highlight for me has been the audio books in the car. I've ploughed through both Educated by Tara Westover for bookclub which I found very stimulating on ideas of history and personal narrative, and how fluid the 'truth' is and The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson (Please note trigger warnings on subject matter re suicide and abuse. It's very sad but in a similar vein to Serial, and just fascinating).

There's something so invigorating when you feel the need to devour a book - I even listened to The Last Days of August while exercising as I knew I couldn't finish when the kids were around and I 'needed' to get to the end.

Next up will be One for the Trouble, a collection of short stories. Sometimes the books in the car is what gets me through the difficult or mundane days.

When I don't have time to sit and read, I love the momentum of audio books (in the car or while I'm cooking) to keep me stimulated.

Do you listen to audio books? What are you currently reading?

Linking with #GlobalBlogging and #StayClassyMama

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Buying flights through Flight Centre - a costly mistake!

We were going to Japan for the marathon, and to make the trip worthwhile, with the expense of 5 airfares, we decided to see more than just Tokyo and fly into Hiroshima then travel up by train, making stops along the way. I looked at flights and then headed in to Flight Centre. The agent found more expensive versions of the same flight (on the same plane, somehow) so I pointed that out, showed her what I could get direct with the airline (not a discount website) and she price matched. Then she tried to add a ticketing fee of $26 a person. I pointed out that I didn't have to pay $130 for ticketing if I booked directly and had to go through the process of 'buying' a ticket online to show her, so she'd waive this additional charge. The whole exercise of simply buying tickets that I had already found took roughly an hour. That really should have set alarm bells off for me.

Fast forward 5 months and my husband's knee blew up. We had cancel for any reason insurance so we decided to cancel (You get 75% back on the money you've spent, it had been explained to my by the Flight Centre agent). What I discovered is you don't get 75% back of what you paid, you get 75% back of the non refundable part of what you've booked. Here's where using Flight Centre becomes costly. If I wanted to change dates, with this airline, had I booked myself, it would have been free. However, because I used Flight Centre, I can only change dates through them, and that costs me $200 a ticket or in our case, $1000. If I booked myself and cancelled, with this airline, I would have been charged $200 a ticket, or $1000 and been refunded the rest, getting $5700 back. However, because I used Flight Centre, I am not allowed to cancel directly. I have to cancel through them and they take a cut. Their cut is $300 per person on top of the $200 the airline charges. So I am charged $2500 in fees to cancel $6700 worth of airfares so will only get $4200 back (or worse, 75% of that). None of these fees are covered by the insurance.

Basically, for trying to support a travel agent, which was actually obsolete in advice or expertise, as I knew specifically what I wanted, I am financially penalised. She also was far more expensive if I couldn't price match, and wanted to charge additional fees.

Cancelling a trip means you burn money, using Flight Centre means you burn considerably more than you would otherwise. I am thankful they couldn't provide any cost competitive accommodation, as all the hotels I'd booked on Booking.com, Agoda and directly with the hotel (Thank you Ihg.com) were cancelled at no cost and fully refundable to me, not going through the insurance.

It was a lesson I learnt the hard way, and when I rang to ask them what they were actually providing, all the Flight Centre manager could say was that they were a 'bricks and mortar' business and they provided expertise. As I had not experienced any expertise, and was slightly mislead on what the Covermore insurance actually paid 75% back on, I can't agree with the expertise aspect.

So in answer to the prompt, the worst purchase I ever made was the $6700 worth of airfares through Flight Centre. Buyer beware!

Edit: It appears I am getting $3862.70 back. Had I booked directly, that would have been $5362.70. For us that is a substantial amount of money, with absolutely nothing to show for it. There seems to be a non accounted amount missing, which I am chasing.

Have you been burnt trying to support a business when you could have done it better and cheaper yourself? What is your worst purchase?

Linking with #LifeThisWeek

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Simplicity and success


I really like this picture. It reminds me of a Mondrian. The sun is reflected in one square alone. Making the 'colour' to the grey.

I wonder if when he painted Tableau and all those works in the Composition series, if he realised that would become his iconic style?

Maybe we over complicate success? Maybe success is simple but we have to be happy with simplicity instead of insisting on bigger and better all the time?

"Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” 
— Louise Hay


Linking with #WordlessWednesday #ThruMyLens #TheRandom #WeekendReflection & #MySundayBest




New World Order - Loving Positivity

After a frustrating week last week with some big decisions to make (re cancelling Tokyo), still waiting on money decisions from airlines, I've had a change of mood with how I'm feeling about it. Same problems and arguments are ongoing, I'm just not letting them bring me down.

I went to a concert (some of you may have noticed in the last year I've been dancing for therapy, and I have to say for me, it works a treat!). Endorphins and exercise and fun, all the good stuff both physically and mentally.

The concert was an odd crowd, with very young (little kids) and teens and then old people - or even old people with kids. I was next to some young women, with young girls of about 15 in front of me. When George Ezra sang 'Hold My Girl', the women next to me started kissing in the middle of the song. The girls behind me started screaming, and I presumed they were young (and immature) like the girls in front of me. The song kept going, the women kept kissing and the girls kept jeering. I decided I had to butt in, so I puffed myself up to my full height and turn around to hiss angrily "It's 2019, pull you head in and grow the f#%$ up!' or some such thing. Fortunately, I was shocked to see these were not girls but 30 something women, and before I could open my mouth one said "She just proposed!" and they were hugging the couple and congratulating them. The women weren't jeering, but cheering in delight. One of the on lookers was crying and another raced off to try and tell George 'because he needs to know!'. They then offered to take their photo so they could capture the moment. It was a really joyous scene.




It lifted my spirits and gave me faith that the world is changing. Perhaps I'm the angry one? Maybe the positivity is there, I'm just getting distracted by the negativity?






The other moment that lifted my attitude was a brief moment on Insta. I was playing around when a clip of Bodiposipanda dancing in a glittery, tassel skirt to Good as Hell popped up. She just looked like she was having so much fun. I decided I needed to find more time to dance, even if it was just by myself as I did the house work.

For those that want a more organised dance session, Daybreakers are holding yoga and a dance party at SeaLife Aquarium before work on the 13th Feb. Unfortunately I can't be there due to an ill timed dentist appointment for one of the kids. It will be awesome fun for the early birds - what a great way to start the day! Details and tickets here. (Not sponsored, just an avid fan, enviously watching these events around the globe)

My challenge for the week is to tune out the negative and amp up the positive. When the negative comes, I'll deal with it but then do my hair toss and check my nails.


Linking with #KCACOLS #DreamTeam #TwinklyTuesday and #ABloggingGoodTime What are you loving this week?



Note there are swears in the song, so maybe NSFW. Really like the clip though. All those happy women! It's worth watching.


 

Friday, 1 February 2019

When lying, be emphatic and indignant, thus behaving like your children. William Feather

There is a funny moment when parenting teens. It's the moment when you are more delighted in your ability to outsmart them, to catch them out in a lie, than be angry that they were trying to be sneaky in the first place.

We were at a party the other night and a woman said the principal of their school sat them down at the start of Year 11 and said "If you don't believe your child would ever lie to you, they already are." She continued with how she had believed her child wasn't drinking in the park with her friends. I find this notion hilarious - that kids are going to parks at night for a party, not to drink. If they weren't up to no good, they'd be at a house with a servant bringing them food, and with unlimited options of entertainment. Apparently there are scores of parents who think their kids are going to the park at night and say 'No thanks, none for me...'. This woman expanded that she was shocked when she discovered her child was lying, and the principal's words echoed in her ears. Needs to be said that her husband had been onto it from the beginning...

I too have had moments when I've seen through the story, and been able to catch them out. The most fun as a parent is when you can catch them out by using their lie to manipulate them so they back themselves into a corner. There's no anger, nor even punishment, you both pretend the lie is 'true' but the plan comes unstuck. It's one of the small victories in teen parenting.

However, I'm not naive enough to think that if I've caught them out this time, there haven't been others when they've pulled the wool over my eyes...It's a self righteous fool that says "My child would never...". They usually are the ones that do.

Linking with #FridayFeature #DreamTeam #TwinklyTuesday #KCACOLS and #StayClassyMama