Thursday 28 February 2019

Taking stock - March

Making : A mess, but that's better than nothing, I guess.

Drinking : Champagne, baby! There were left overs from the big milestone birthday.

Reading:My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises - not loving it, to be honest. It's okay.

Wanting: More time. Or maybe to be more organised? Just don't seem to be getting enough done. 
Look at me being a grown up!
 Looking: At my spending. I decided to cut back on concerts as last year was a little manic (a kind of weird therapy to deal with my father dying over a drawn out period). However, while I started well in Jan, only one concert and one festival, Feb has seen it creep up again and March and April have gone a little crazy....My aim is 2 a month, not 2 or 3 a week! Though last year I even did 2 in a night, so I guess I've improved on that! 

Enjoying: Living in Sydney. The arts and restaurants, the waterfront and the general tolerance and diversity of the people.

Liking:Coriander & chilli in my breakfast omelette

Wondering: How people can say that we shouldn't say Pell is guilty until the end of the appeal. The expression is 'Innocent until Proven Guilty'. He was proven guilty. So he is guilty. No paperwork has even been lodged for an appeal yet. Guilty, full stop. Let's remember the victims and lives ruined for now. Let's stand by the poor children who had their lives destroyed by acts inflicted on them. Let's not turn our backs on them yet again.

Loving: That 2 of my kids seem to have got amazing teachers.Having already spent 12 years in the education system, I am not easily impressed. These 2 teachers appear to be way ahead of the norm. I can only hope the change in Government invests more in public education, both in resources and directly into the teachers pockets too. Human capital is not to be undervalued, if anything is to be learnt from Finland.

Hoping: A new Government as State level will undo the mistakes of the NSW Libs. And bring in pill testing. And not sell the Powerhouse.

Marvelling: Hopefully at Captain Marvel. I don't care what people say, I can't wait!

Needing: To exercise more. And use my bath house voucher I got for my birthday. I went last night and felt like a million dollars! Have 2 more visits...can't wait!

Thinking: About how it was possible to poison the drinking water in Flint in the USA. It was not terrorism, it was allegedly the government, and greed. How can that be? In a Western country with all the 'safety' checks in place? Can it really be possible? And then think about what's happening here with the fracking and the reef. Could they knowingly destroy our water? Could they risk public safety for a buck?

Opening: These little psychology snacks from Intangible Goods. (Available at the Mini Mart in Petersham until the end of March). Got some to give to friends instead of cards.

: Very lucky to have such magnificent friends. The thought that went into the gifts (even though I said no gifts!) and the effort put into dressing up for my Baz Lurhmann party was sensational. Everyone looked so wonderful. I feel very loved, at the moment, and it was nice to give a little back to my village.

Linking with #AnythingGoes #PicturePerfectLinkyParty #WordlessWednesday #Dreamteam #ThruMyLens #Shelbeeontheedge and #KCACOLS

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Wednesday 27 February 2019

“The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.” ― Aristotle

This year's Mardi Gras sees us celebrate a step further in equality (though there is still that pesky school issue, and while they say they have never told children they aren't welcome for being LBGTQI, there is a private school near me that has been taking in those same children after they've been encouraged to leave. Teachers talk.)

However, as we wait for our PM to do what he promised to do (and let's face it, the right thing), let's celebrate  we are moving slowly to a more inclusive society. Let's remember how far we have come and be thankful we aren't like some countries that appear to be moving backwards in this area.

Of equality- as if it harm'd me, 
giving others the same chances
and rights as myself- 
as if it were not indispensable 
to my own rights 
that others possess the same.” 
― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

(Or the short version - equal rights for others doesn't mean less rights for you. It's not pie).

Happy Mardi Gras everyone.

Linking with #MySundayPhoto

Sunday 24 February 2019

My favourite things

I've had a pretty sensational weekend - Starting Thursday night, dancing with Aloe Blacc at the zoo, and tiffan for lunch made by a Thai lady (so delicious!).

Squeezing in the exhibition at Carriageworks by Nick Cave (the artist, US) which is well worth a look if you can get there before it closes on the weekend.

Friday night saw some Mah Jong with some fabulous friends, always an enjoyable evening.

Saturday we took to the driving range before lunch, with much hilarity and then a rainy afternoon bath.

My husband and I went to Eddie Izzard's Wunderbar - which I found delightful (my husband didn't laugh once...guess it was too whimsical for him). It was in the gorgeous State Theatre that still amazes me in it's beauty.

Another family lunch on Sunday, but this time, one down, as is becoming our norm with the very busy Uni student.

A girlfriend and I headed out to Ultra. I'll be honest, having seen 2 of the acts before, I thought they were a little 'down' (perhaps too much partying in Melbourne the night before or the staging didn't work as well for them?) But I still had fun, though I got so much dust in my lungs I'm still coughing!

This morning I woke very happy but feeling my age and in physical pain as I apparently used a lot of usually dormant back muscles  when I dance!

It's back to reality, but fortunately, while a little dull and mundane, my reality is still pretty good and my mood is elated.

Happiness is indulging in your favourite things, when you can. Art, music, dancing, food, laughs and friends & family - they all make me smile. Do more of what makes you happy.

(Note to those of you in the US and UK, this is a real Sydney weekend! Love this town!)

Linking with #Globalblogging, #TwinklyTuesday #HappyTuesday  #StayClassyMama

Saturday 23 February 2019

The Best Decade?

This was a hard prompt to answer. My automatic response is the 1920's for the fabulous fashion. I would have loved to have got round in the feathers and sequins and tasseled dresses. Also the drop waisted daily wear suits me. They were also mad for dancing. We don't dance enough these days, if you ask me.

We saw Eddie Izzard last night (apologies if I've not got the pronouns right, just googled and 'he' predominated), and he raised a point that we were like in the 1930's again, and we all know how great that worked out for everyone. Later on, he stated that we would either wipe ourselves out off the planet completely in the next 80 years if we continued the way we did (in it's destruction) or we needed to stand up and insist on change (environmentally, economically etc). It's an interesting concept and I think he's probably unfortunately right. We can make it better for everyone, or we will end it all.

As for me personally? I'm very much of the La Cage Aux Folles song mindset. The best of times is now.

'The best of times is now
As for tomorrow, well, who knows?'

There are always difficult times but I think I'm probably stronger and better at handling them (so much practice by this age!).

'Now, not some forgotten yesterday
Now, tomorrow is too far away'

Things are easy with the internet, we travel more, we can do more*, musically we can reach more artists of our choosing than ever before** and we can stay in contact with our friends around the world with ease. When the problems arise, it's easier to get help - medical or emotional. People are more accepting and tolerant of difference. We're better educated in terms of diversity or disability (generally speaking). We are making life easier and happier for more and more & more people on the planet. Equality is slowly creeping into the lives of a myriad of minorities. Still a long way to go but this all has to be an improvement on what went on in the preceding decades.

It is up to us, I guess. If we want this decade to be our best one, we need to make it so. Like the song says:

"So hold this moment fast
And live and love
As hard as you know how
And make this moment last
Because the best of times is now, is now"

What do you see as the best decade?

Linking with #Lifethisweek and #Dreamteam

*Last night at the State theatre, I was discussing how as a kid I went to see the Disney film Snow White there and I was amazed at how beautiful the building was, and how it seemed like a magical palace, as prior to that I'd only seen movies put on at the Macquarie Uni hall. My husband pointed out the rise of the suburban cinema came much later. Now we have the luxury of 3 different multiplexes pretty much in walking distance from our home!

** I am in LOVE with Spotify. As someone who listens to music in other languages, I am getting suggestions to amazing artists I would never have found. Last week, Spotify sent me an email. Two artists I like were performing near me (weirdly it thinks I live in Sylvania but I guess nothing is perfect). I would have missed these concerts but have now booked myself tickets. One is the glorious Eric Bibb, who I've been seeing every time he comes to the country. We have a luxury in our connectedness to stay informed on both the biggest news and smallest of pleasures.

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 #OpenSlather

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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 #Blogtober

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 
bookworms monthly linky

PS I just finished the audio verison of Remains of the Day and it is brilliantly read. I loved it so much!

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, Agoda and directly with the hotel (Thank you 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  #WeekendReflection

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