Friday 29 November 2019

Self care

I've been reading a few cries for help on Facebook, and I thought as I outlined my ideas for self care in response to one person, I'd share here.Before I get into the nitty gritty, I want to touch on a response the shame sometimes people feel for getting int the mess in the first place, or having to seek help or feelings of failure. Firstly, recognising you have a problem and seeking help to deal with it is something to be proud of. It's difficult and raises uncomfortable feelings but you are pushing on regardless to get to a better place. As my beloved Augusten Burroughs says 'Shame is a negative emotion given to you by others, and just like at airports, we should never carry baggage we haven't packed ourselves'.

Always remember life is complicated. We are sold an idea of how life is meant to be as children but it's really nothing like real life. If you're struggling in the rapids, don't worry about the less than perfect or what other people think, focus on what you need to do to swim to shore and only bother with those people that are throwing you life buoys. Everyone else can pass on by....To quote the wonderful Dario Fo "it's true, we're up to our necks in shit, and that's exactly why we walk with our heads held high!" Head high, people! Always.

Numbness is often a sign of depression - depression isn't sadness, it can be feeling nothing at all. Not feeling. So get checked out with a doctor because life doesn't need to be unnecessarily difficult. If you are struggling, always go straight to your GP to check there isn't an actual medical problem exacerbating the problem.  The trick the brain plays is making you think whatever you feel is real. Just make sure it is. There's no harm in just checking in with your GP. 

However, assuming you are just overwhelmed by life's obligations (and with children with issues, it can be unrelenting and exhausting so don't ever feel the need to dismiss that. It's huge) focus on stealing a few little pick me ups for yourself. Try to find things that don't take much time or cost money. They are the easiest things to reset your mood, as they can be quickly done without taking effort.

Dance to your favourite song (or better yet, belt it out loud in the car - I know it sounds silly but it literally engages something in your head and there's an emotional shift*). Exercise daily if you can - in front of the TV if need be - anything to get some endorphins in action. Where possible, eat well. Junk will bring you down, not raise you up (I can't say I'm an expert on this). Lastly, find something for you. I have been doing these puzzles (some sort of Mensa game for the kids) which I started doing when I was checking the pieces before ebaying but it's really fun and only takes 5 or so minutes, so I'm doing all the puzzle options before I get rid of it. It's the focus on the activity you enjoy that's important, not the meaning of the activity. Once you add a few little things for you and your mood, it's easier to feel you can move to move to bigger things. 

If you are overwhelmed with the grind, and kids are taking their toll don't feel life is passing you by. This is life. It just isn't always fun. But getting through the mud is just as important as making something or doing something. And dragging others through the mud is probably the most important thing a mother can do.

If you can afford it, I suggest getting some super luxury conditioner or shower gel with a really strong smell that you like. Some days in the shower is the only indulgence you'll get and if it can set you up in a good mood, then it's money well spent. (I get that L'Occitaine conditioner when on sale. I just use normal shampoo because it's ridiculously expensive and the conditioner smell is strong and overwhelms the shampoo smell anyway) and then sometimes I just need to smell my hair to get a mood boost...

I also recommend audio books for in the car - if you are driving all over the place in tedious obligation, at least you feel you are achieving something. Alain De Botton says audio books are as good for you as meditation (again it's the focus, shutting down the chaotic thoughts). Plus it gives you something other than your problems to talk about when you see people. 

Focus on one thing at a time. It  is a remarkable skill and very difficult to manage.  However, it's interesting when you achieve it. I did almost accidentally. I swear by it now. (in all those little ways above). You can't second guess the future anyway, so just deal with the immediate problem and let all the other pestering thoughts wait until you are ready to move on to the next step. 

I know all this sounds stupid but it is amazing how tiny things can make all the difference in getting you though the hard stuff.

What are your tips for self care?

Linking with #KCACOLS #StayClassyMama #TwinklyTuesday and  #MLSTL because while not age specific, I do know a lot of people my age really sinking in the mire.

*Note for people with anxiety - getting up and physically moving to a different position can reduce anxiety.

Thursday 28 November 2019

Share the love #XmasLinky

Australia is in a mess, economically speaking, and retail in particular has been in a slump for the last few years. The drought and fires have hit regional Australia hard, so this Christmas, why not try to share the love around a little. The #BuyfromtheBush hashtag can be used on Instagram to source shops and retailers in rural Australia for Christmas gifts from clothing, jewellery and homeware to pretty much anything else you can think of.

There is this portal and this article lists a few retailers from around the state specifically. Or if you have a friend in a country town, ask them for suggestions of their local shops.

This shop has a great range and free shipping for outside the area. There will be online Xmas Markets here next Sunday.

If you are shopping for many, be a little conscious of buying local (Australian) and where possible, some from regional retailers.

And last week to get your Share the Dignity - It's in the Bag donation to Bunnings.

Linking with #RubyTuesdayToo for the red stocking and #Nanahood

Add your Christmas Posts below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Monday 25 November 2019

Life lessons from strange observations...

My husband only just worked out U2 where here. He asked why they hadn't advertised. I said I got emails but I didn't really see any big billboards or much other advertising (but I don't really listen to radio so maybe that was the problem). We then discussed the posters and advertising for Elton, and how it was such big news - though having 20 million concerts in the country might be part of it. We decided maybe U2 concerts were targeting the die hard fans, so they didn't need to advertise as much, and because of the movie, Elton was targeting both new and old audiences, so a more visual prompt in the advertising was required.

It got me thinking.

There's an interesting life lesson in all this. At a snapshot in time, Elton was washed up, more or less, musically when U2 were the biggest thing on the planet but fast forward 30 years and a 70 year old is going to break Ed Sheeran’s ticket sales record in this country and can apparently put on 6 months worth of concerts and that’s still not enough to exhaust ticket sales. So, no matter how dark your today is, there might still be an unexpected and amazing tomorrow.....
And in words no one ever thought would be said, way back in the heady 70’s and dark 80’s* - Be like Elton!

Linking with #KCACOLS #StayClassyMama  #DreamTeam and #MLSTL because you might think you've passed your prime, only to discover the best might be yet to come!

*based on the movie, I know no actual facts, other than from my very unreliable memory.

I love this song, featuring Elton John but warning, the video is distressing (gang violence).

Friday 22 November 2019

How good is the air quality?

You can vaguely see Centrepoint tower when I zoomed in

I know I shouldn't complain because we are a long way from harm, but the air quality is disgusting, and causing chest and breathing issues - and I'm not even asthmatic, so I can't imagine how those poor people are coping.

I am very thankful for last night's rain, but the app still shows half the state ablaze, albeit not as out of control as before.

I hope the PM has finally organised to meet with Greg Mullins & Co, those fire chiefs, and a task force and action plan is being fast tracked to avoid more of the same. Regardless of the cause, action should be taken, if only for immediate investment in Fire and Rescue NSW and the National Parks staff to clear the fire trails.

 Linking with #OurWorldTuesday #WWOT  #TravelTuesday #WednesdayAroundTheWorld #PictorialTuesday  #MCoW #WordlessWednesday #SayCheese  #TheRandom #ThruMyLens #WWOAT  #SundayBest and #WanderingCamera

An old pic for contrast of the usual view

Thursday 21 November 2019

The Reverse Advent Calendar

Last week I read about the Reverse Advent Calendar over at Tired but Crafty Mummy. The short version is, for every day in December you get a non perishable grocery item and put it in a box, and then donate it before Christmas. I have decided to give to a food pantry, and have emailed the two near me to see if they will take them. You could also approach refuges (Women's, men's or refugee centres) or with the bush fires, possibly evacuated communities. Take your pick.

I'm using the Food Pantry's web page suggestions of what to collect.
"We welcome all non-perishable pantry items that are in-date and personal hygiene and household items. A few key items include;
  • Deodorant, soap and body wash
  • Shampoo, conditioner and sanitarian items
  • Baby wipes and nappies
  • Dish washing liquid and detergent
  • Canned fruit, vegetable, soup and fish
  • Noodles, pasta, and rice
  • Baked beans and spaghetti
  • Baby food and formula
Please don’t feel limited to our suggestions – we accept non-perishable food, alcohol-free and tobacco-free donations."
So for now, when at the shops, I'm checking the specials and chucking a few extra items in the trolley...
Today Bunnings starts the collection for Share the Dignity's It's in the Bag Christmas Campaign. You have until the 26th November  to make your bag up and donate it.

Linking with  #WonderfulWednesday #100Daysof Christmas

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday 17 November 2019

Teacher Gifts

If you have a teacher who you think is doing a great job, it is lovely to thank them. If you want to be generous, email the class and try to organise a collection for a group gift. The upside is you then have a substantial amount of money to get them a voucher or something tangible with (though we tend to go with vouchers so they can choose the perfect thing).

The upside of the group gift is that they don't get 30 x boxes of chocolate/soap/wine (they may not drink). My SIL gives most of her teacher gifts to charity - an organisation that makes hampers for families in the country. While that is a lovely gesture, it means the parents that gave her the gift really gave her nothing.

Don't set an amount. Don't harass people. Just email the class with your bank details, or ask for cash in the playground. It  means those with little spare cash can contribute what they are comfortable with. Those that want to make a big donation also can. And those that want to give nothing can also do that.

To me, this is the perfect gift to the teacher. You then sign a group card or the kids draw a picture to be in the group card. If the teacher has been extra amazing for your child, write a detailed note separate from the gift and let them know.

Our high school organises a morning tea - you can donate food for the morning tea as a way of thank you. I think it's a lovely idea. It takes pressure off cash strapped parents to thank 8-10 teachers that may have helped their child throughout the year.

The ultimate gift, in my opinion however, is to protest against this government's attempt to shut down the unions. The teachers union is instrumental in pushing for their meagre pay rises. It protects their very few entitlements. It attempts to get better funding for our children. If you really want to give a gift to teachers, write to your MP about this disgraceful Integrity Bill. Please note work related asbestosis sufferers and cancers the firemen get as a result of their job will all risk being not covered by workers compensation if this bill passes. The Fire Union has a massive campaign about it last year, and only managed to get a few of the cancers covered. (Shame on us). It is the thin edge of the wedge to take work place entitlements off people in industries that all ready have few. (I am not in a union represented job. This personally will not impact me if it goes through. I just believe occasionally you have to stand up for other people and what is right). You can outline clearly the level of corruption the bill can target if you think you support de-unionising this country. State criminal activity under the crimes act only, or some such description.

Christmas is a time to say thank you, and help the less fortunate. Unfortunately, that latter group is growing at a rapid rate in this country over the last 12 months. We must do better.

Linking with #Lifethisweek #OpenSlather and #XmasLinky

Look Up

I was walking home and saw this. I love this photo.
It's a good reminder to keep your chin up.

Linking with #SkyWatch & #GalleriaHimmelsblick

Saturday 16 November 2019

You just don't know it yet

I have spent the week talking to a number of friends whose kids are having hard times finding themselves. Life is tough. Tough because they're gay and this country at the moment seems particularly unkind to those who are just trying to make their way in the world like everyone else. Tough because their high ATAR didn't seem to bring them what they thought it might. Tough because their parents seem to have expectations at odds with their happiness. Tough because they just don't know how to find their passion or place in the world.

I have also met a number of adults at parties that seem to be in the same boat. Age doesn't seem to have speed up their ability to find what makes them happy and flourish. Neither in work or interests. Unfortunately, the older you get, the more foreign the idea of change becomes.

I've just discovered MOTi and the very wonderful advice in his song, 'You just don't know it yet'. To all those kids and their parents, just remember, while struggling to find where to fit in "You will find that heaven's in you, you just don't know it yet".

There is a light buried inside us all. You just need to find out how to turn it on. It may not be the path you thought you would take, and there's a very good chance it won't be the path your parents or school told you to take. It probably won't be the 'should' that gets given to you by others. It may be a few steps down the wrong path and then a sharp left. Who knows? If you are doing something that makes you unhappy, there's a pretty good chance that whatever you are doing is not it. Try something else. Focus and work hard on whatever your current endeavour is, even if it isn't your passion, so you know for sure when it's time to move on that it is for the right reasons. But know when you do find it, and love it, you will be fabulous.

Everyone deserves to be fabulous*.

Linking with #KALCOLS  #Dreamteam and #StayClassyMama. Also linking with #MLSTL because it's never too old to find your passion (or a new one)

Also the #XmasLinky is live for this week if you want to swing by with your Christmas themed posts.

 *This line is from Kick Ass with Mel Robbins,

Thursday 14 November 2019

Christmas, Who gives a crap? #XmasLinky

Long time readers will know I'm a fan of the Christmas edition of the environmentally friendly and charitable Who Gives a Crap?.  Their impact statement is here but in short, 50% of the profits goes to building toilets, to charities that help source water and hygiene and the production is treeless and low water and energy consumption. This year, I learnt the importance of toilets, or at least concrete floors and contamination avoidance in this really interesting podcast of Sydney University's Raising the Bar talk on The value of human waste by Jacqueline Thomas (I've linked the itunes version here but you can also listen on Soundcloud or Podbean or other platforms - free and fabulous).

You can even gift individually. Perfect for someone who has the sh*ts 
I ordered my annual Christmas supply - wrapped perfectly for joke gifts, or to display in the bathroom at parties (for handy use), or to save on gift wrap but wrapping all Xmas presents in the toilet paper wrap...(Note there are also gift cards if you want to give as a gift).

Note they also do paper towel and tissues. This is one of my favourite new (and kooky) Christmas traditions. I was genuinely excited when the festive box turned up....(file that away in the strange but true category). Orders can be placed here.

 What's your strangest Christmas tradition?

For the next 5 weeks, every Friday I will host a Christmas link up. Add your Xmas themed posts here for #XmasLinky   (old or new - but non xmas posts will be deleted).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Linking with #OpenSlather

Wednesday 13 November 2019

That's a bingo!

Last Friday I went to Bongo's Bingo - one of my favourite nights out. There's a bit of singing, a lot of dancing and some bingo in between.

A friend who hadn't been before said midway through the night 'This is just what I needed! It's the best stress relief!'. I couldn't have put it better myself!

Our crew was spread out across the table and when we noticed a group of young 20-something men were standing, we offered to squash up so they had somewhere to sit. We moved to the end of the table so they could sit next to the group of young 20 something women because as my friend said "They'd rather sit with them than next to us" (Us being old married ladies...but old dancing-mad women intent on having fun).
As the night progressed, however, they joined our group, dancing with us and classily playing beer can jenga, even though we were literally old enough to be their mothers. I thought back to when I was their age, I would have made snide judgements about a 30 year old in a nightclub, let alone someone over 50.

Yet again, these Millennials seem so much better to me than our generation. They are judged so harshly in the media and yet I continually see them outshine us and our small minded attitudes time and again. They appear to be naturally inclusive of others, no matter what the difference.

Perhaps, as we live in a country that wants to legalise discrimination and exclusion, we need to listen more to the youth of this nation, before we completely destroy it for them.

 I am loving the high that I woke with the morning after the Bingo, that carried me through much of the week. I am loving the hope that the youth of this country gives me, that they will make it a much better place to live than we have, for everyone. Now we just have to wait for the next time the Bongo's Bingo hits Sydney....

What are you loving this week?
Linking with #WednesdayAroundtheWorld #TwinklyTuesday #OurWorldTuesday #GlobalBlogging  #KCACOLS #RubyTuesdayToo and #StayClassyMama
Note the #XmasLinky is live for this week over here! Come and link your Christmas themed posts.

Saturday 9 November 2019

A week in China - Share my Snaps!

I was lucky enough to spend a week in China seeing some of the most amazing history in the world to celebrate my milestone birthday. We spent 2 days in Beijing (needed more), a day and a half down at the Wall in Jinshanling, a full day travelling including 4 hours on a Bullet train and a full day in Xi'an (also needed more).
Linking with #AwwMondays

We managed to cram so much in a day and then spent the nights roaming the city to see the modern side - the bars and art and shopping.

Getting around China takes a long time, so there was a fair bit of time in transit, which is a pity, but it was a great trip and we had so much fun. It blew away all our expectations.

There are three posts on it so far on my travel blog, for those interested, and more to come.

I really loved this trip and had a blast with my very easy going long time friend of 47 years, an excellent travel companion, who made the difficult things funny and relaxing....

Have you been to China? Did you love it?

Linking with #TravelTuesday because I was talking about this trip with friends - I loved it so much!

Thursday 7 November 2019

Winter is coming.

No, wait, Christmas is coming. That's pretend snow....

Every year, I hold a link up every Friday for Xmas themed posts. This year, I plan to do the same. 

This Friday, and for the next 7 weeks, join in with me sharing (or trying to build) some Christmas Cheer.

No rules on what you link, as long as it's Christmas related. As for start time, you know me, I'm fairly flexible on times so first thing...

I leave you with this Christmas song, to get you in the spirit. If you haven't seen the fabulous Furnace and the Fundamentals, there are still tickets available to their Xmas party at the Oxford Arts Factory in Sydney on Wednesday the 18th (I'll be at the sold out 19th gig). You will never dance so much in your life! Tickets available here. As Molly would say 'Do yourself a favour!'

Remember Christmas posts only. I will delete non related posts. Gift suggestions, however, are welcome.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
Also linking with #TheRandom #WordlessWednesday #PhotoTunes and #MondayMusicMovesMe

Sunday 3 November 2019

Keep your magic close

This weekend saw me enter magical universes. First an underground speakeasy at Beyond Cinema's Blind Barber in the tunnels under the Coal Loader. Then in the Japanese inspired Strike Bowling and lastly in the world of Wizard school (not Harry Potter for copyright reasons...) at the Wizards Cauldron. 

There is something so fun about dressing up and taking on a different persona. It's all the fun of play that you lose as you get older. You escape yourself, and more importantly, all the troubles of the world, and for an hour or so, enter a world of delights in another dimension.

Don't worry about looking silly. If you dress up, commit. Don't worry if you're too old, once your in character, you can be whoever you want to be. As I said to my youngest when she was upset about the tooth fairy, after a friend had told her: 'Keep your magic close. Sometimes you have keep it just for youself to keep it alive. With magic, you can choose to believe just for a little bit, just for the experience, like when you see a magician.'

The same goes for self conscious adults, sometimes you just have to throw yourself into it, just to keep the magic alive. It is surprising how revitalised it can make you feel. I found this quote below, and I think it's spot on. If you throw yourself into the fun, or life, you are caught up in the joy of it, and less likely to hear that critical inner voice that likes to steal your delight.

 “Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.”
― Kevyn Aucoin

Do you like to dress up or play make believe?