Friday, 30 December 2011

The Ungrateful Within

I am not a big fan of Christmas. But this year I loved it!

Selfishly, I did not have to share my family with anyone. We did not have to drive for four to five hours and sleep in one or the other parents house and hope that we were not upsetting someone. We did not have to do lunch here, breakfast there and dinner somewhere else. We did not feel like we were possessions being tossed, pulled or shoved.

We had the privilege of being a family at home in our own home; just the four of us and Charlie the dog.

We were supposed to be joined by some friends (who we knew wouldn't) because they are far too selfish and wanted us to come to their house. We have young children who want to enjoy their toys, their children are grown up and we spent 13 years at their house for Christmas. Besides since they both have lost a licence for DUI it really doesn't even require a discussion for them of who is designated driver!

Alas we were the bigger people and went to their boxing day party and unlike them I brought my children and taught them how to behave. My girls have manners and know how to act. Their teenagers have no manners, no graciousness and certainly are not grateful or respectful. Not even a thank you for the little gift the girls bought them. These are teens who can't make their own lunch, tea or breakfast and can't even cook toast! What hope is there for them in the real world? The evening was pierced with ungrateful comments about the very flashy coffee maker in their kitchen.

"I wanted a juicer! Does this look like a juicer?"
"I only drink flat white, not fancy coffee, why would I want this?"

The fact that these two have the most toxic of relationships makes the above discourse seem friendly, but the sheer lack of gratitude astounds me.

Moving on to the next bunch of ungrateful people - in laws! We bought them a calendar of the girls, some doublemint gum which you have not been able to get for years and they used to use at tennis all the time and they had extra large gifts for their birthdays this year, which was also to form part of their Christmas gifts. Several hundred dollars worth! Apparently though, that was not good enough.

Really! These are people who have everything and need nothing. Again where is the gratitude for the thought? I thought of many of my clients who would be alone, sick, lonely, hungry or harming themselves, wouldn't they love to have any of this? I sometimes wonder if they are not in some ways better off for never having had any of the wealth which brings this ungrateful behaviour to the fore!

Me, well I was spoilt. I have my family back and that in itself is enough. I finally got a Wii and well it is harder than I thought! I also now have a new sound dock as my children have commandeered my Bose sound dock in their bedroom.

I heard from my sister in law, just a text. But I was glad to know she is okay and my mother in law and her husband cooked her lunch on her birthday.

We have money saved and gifted to do some concreting of one shed floor. We caught up with friends and it was a great relaxed time.

I appreciate the time I had with my family and our friends who came to join us later. The joy in seeing our girls and their little mate Jackson rip through the house and backyard and have a ball jumping on the new trampoline (which by the way was easy to put up!). The house was easy to tidy and the kids hardly made a mess, which is in itself another gift!

So as the year comes to a close an my journey is travelling in a positive direction, I would like to take the time to wish you a Happy New Year. May it be safe and filled with hope.

If the past year has not been what you want, create yourself a better year. Take charge of your destiny, steer the carriages the way you want them to go.

Will I travel this way next year? Well who knows.....with a masters degree in process and a Managerial position requiring systemic change and data analysis and political pushing, I may not have time. However, the Gratitude Train has helped me get back on track and I hope that if you are off course that you too will find your way.

Sunday, 18 December 2011


Well it is Christmas the most wonderful time of the year! Who sang that ridiculous song? I bet it was Frank Sinatra!

I find Christmas hard. I am not sure why, so I began to reflect. Last year I was still separated from my husband, but we spent it together as a family at my mums. That in itself is a colossal effort. She spoke to my daughter like a piece of dirt and very much reminded me of why I had a hard time growing up. No one speaks to my child like that.

I am still reeling from the affair, even though it is long since over, I wonder, I doubt, I wish hindsight would just get out of my sight!

My sister in law, or should I say ex, it would be her birthday this Saturday and I would reach out, but can't as I don't know where she is at with the family, me or anything in life. I told her some honest thoughts earlier in the year about how she MAY be perceived through the things she was writing to the family and wanted to protect her from the crap that they all put me through. To protect her was not my role, I see that now and hope I didn't make it worse! Last I knew she told someone that we weren't talking. I took her off my FB page to protect myself from knowing anything and having to lie to anyone. I am hopeless at lying as you would know from my post on Being Authentic.
I took her off as I myself was also not in a good place and just needed my energy for myself and my struggle with PND.
So I wonder about her and how she is finding the "single life". Is it easier for her as she has family who will help, or is it harder or the same?

In the type of work I do I see so much misery at this time. It is hard to switch off from that when you have an overdeveloped sense of  empathy. I wish that I could erase the misery from so many even for just a day, but then that is really about how I feel and would probably be worse for them long term.

I am grateful for so much too and that is where I realised I should focus my reflection. I am grateful to have my family back together and the opportunity to work on that.

I am grateful for two beautiful and individual children.

I am grateful for some truly awesome friends that I have had since high school.

I am grateful to be part of an awesome work team and have brilliant mentors around me.

I am grateful to be healthy.

I am grateful to be me and living the life I do.

My journey is taking me where I need to go.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Winners are grinners!

This past week that has been the absolute truth.

Despite a rough (will be for a while) ride in my reluctant journey into management, there was a silver lining; many prompt responses for attendance to my next meeting - small things make me happy in this job!

After a day that seemed less than happiness on Thursday, with hubby having to take the day off due to a sick little Miss 4 for the second day in a row, I just felt flat. Mother guilt had set in, end of the working week, knowing that I had a deadline to make some curtains for the Miss Ella Skye Backyard Dreams Project and that I should not have changed the colour scheme so late; the house was scruffy and the washing was thankfully not too far behind.

Then I did my e-mail check once the girls were in bed and the house had a run through tidy up. I had won the DirtGirlWorld Grubby giveaway from Childhood 101 with the amazing Christie Burnett. So now my two little "Dirt Girls" will have some new CD's and DVD's for when it is too hot this summer or too wet in the winter! I was thrilled, I WON - woo hoo.

Then I did the inevitable and went online to Facebook and to Childhood 101, got sidetracked and went back to my e-mails. Then surprise number 2 for the night......Pinky McKay, yes the famous author and mother of five and a nurse to boot, liked my comment on her Facebook page. Well actually she didn't like it, she commented below and said she loved my comment. It was a huge thrill and an honour. Further on she also agreed with another reader and I about our views on the bias towards mothers in their role, rather than it being a familial focus.

I then had the honour of being the cubby house queen and waving my magic over a plain little cubby house in a plain little backyard. Now my part was easy sort of ( I had never seen the cubby before mind you). The hard yakka the other team members had to put in though was well rewarded by a fabulous looking garden that was friendly to the needs of a disabled child and her family. It was a job well done by all and then others pitched in more and more towards the end of the day. The excitement and apprehension grew and then came the reveal at about 8:45 that evening. Ella was "wow", jumped on her trampoline, loved her fairy garden and new tea set and table and chairs and walked into the cubby and said "Oh WOW". She was in awe and I was rewarded with something money just can't buy- pure gratitude from the purest of children.

Her mum and dad loved it too, lost for words and a little wine weary they could not believe what we had done for them. I was invited back the next night to share this with my girls who helped me shop and sew. For the first time my 4 year old did not take 2 hours to warm up - she was straight in there and playing- double happiness for me! See my previous post AMAZING to understand what this is all about

So I am still on my grinning high, how can I not be. I see on Facebook the fabulous work we all did for one family who just needed a break and asked nothing of it. We sent them off on a trip for the day with day spas, cars for the dad, picnic lunch and wineries and a splendid meal at A Hereford Beefstouw. We helped some people, raised some serious cash and did some good old fashioned "lending a hand".

For more information and pictures see:

For the fabulous Childhood 101 site here is the link, boredom will be a word of the past and no electricity is required for many of these great learning activities.

So I will grin away and know I am the luckiest person in the world this week. It is not the first time either, did I tell you about the time I won a new Dyson vacuum? No, well maybe another time.

Until my next who knows when post, stay happy, on track and grateful for all the little things we have, because from little things - big things grow!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Speaking Out!

White Ribbon Day
It is November 25th this year, Friday that is!

If you haven't heard of it, well now you have! There is no longer an excuse to bury your head in the sand.

In support of Wanderlust and all the other victims of this abuse lets all speak out and stop burying our collective heads in the sand.

Domestic violence against women and children is happening every day around you.
Not in my neighbourhood....think again. It is much nicer to think that it is not happening though, isn't it? The reason many people feel this way is because they don't know what to do.

Speak Out

Domestic Violence is everywhere. Many people think that it is something that is of a bygone era or that it is for those in the less fortunate areas, maybe they think it is only for those affected by substance abuse.

Maybe they don't realise it can happen to anybody.

At the start of this year in response to a friend I started facebooking information out on this subject. They needed help and due to their situation, some randomly read posts was the safest option for them in a shared forum.

The address above is one of the images that I connected people to, to highlight what DV is and is not. It is an insightful resource.

Inadvertently I offended a family member who thought I was talking about her situation. I wasn't, whilst hers was a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship, the friend I was helping was in danger. They were isolated in a rural area, did not know how to access help, substance abuse was also involved and there were children too. This friend I grew up with at a distance and we became friends later, what saddens me is that from what I know of her childhood, the same is now happening to her as an adult. Her husband is a wealthy, respected farmer, involved in many charities and committees in their town.

Early intervention is the key in all areas of life.

Back to the family member who has now left her husband. I am in two minds about this as she never gave him the chance to seek help and see if it could all work and he was willing. We have since also learnt that she only married him to have children and knew they were not ideal together. It doesn't condone her partners behaviour, but sometimes the violence can be lessened, this is a case where I feel it could have and therefore the 2 little boys in the midst of this would not have had to endure what they have. She and her husband were both well educated people in management streams, middle class comfort.

I have another friend who today told me that she was thrilled to only be losing her licence for three months and 3 days. She blew in the mid to high range. Her partner and her were at a celebration and he was being an idiot (as he is when alcohol is involved) and so she decided to leave. He came after her and started yelling and having a go at her because if she went how was the car going to get home and there was no way it was going to be left in the car-park! He has already lost his licence for a couple of years for driving under the influence! So after a heated argument and pushing and shoving she gets in and drives.

All the while he is putting her down, calling her a fat arsed skank, stupid, bimbo, slut and believe it or not a whole lot worse (I have heard it all from him). He is poking her and pinching her whilst she is trying to drive. They are driving over a bridge and there is a breath testing station at the base and he is smashing her head into the steering wheel and pulling her hair at this stage, she is just trying to drive and stay on the road. She nearly ran over the police officer.

When she gets out and she is already crying and in a state; they breath test her and she openly admits to drinking and driving. The officer asks her about what was going on in the car as he could see that she looked like she was being shoved, she tells him. Charges are laid on her partner.

Guess what? She is still with him. It annoys the life out of me as her two kids now entering their teens are witness to this. The daughter now comes with her own set of issues and their 12 year old son, thinks his parents are losers and becomes very upset when they fight. I have given them both all of the resources I can to get help for themselves, each other, their children. You can lead a horse to water......

For teens and adults affected by this and for the accompanying troubles within that lifestyle go to They have great easy to read resources and contacts nationwide.

I grew up knowing my parents were not suited to each other, different. I can honestly say though that I never saw them argue, never heard it either. I know they disagreed, had different opinions, but violence was just not part of our lives. I am truly grateful for that, so thank you mum and dad.

Due to my mother and I clashing though I did live informally with a foster family. Have I told you about how wonderful they are? Will do so one day.

From time to time came emergency foster kids. I remember Hayley. Her stepdad used to bash her, but not her younger sister. Hayley was 13 or 14, I was 11 or 12 the same as her younger sister. So Hayley came to my foster family. She did not know about hygiene ( you have to wet all of your hair to wash it!), she did not know about feminine products or cycles, she did not have a clue about life in general. I remember thinking she had the prettiest face, much prettier than her "nasty" younger sister. One day she was struggling with her very basic maths homework. I was year 7, she was year 9 and I helped (think I did it) her with her homework, she had no idea how to do multiplication. That was the day that it became clear to all of us that she had suffered some kind of brain damage at the hands of her mother and stepfather. How cruel, how utterly disgusting to do that to another human being. What gave them the right.

So to all the Hayley's, Will's, Carly's and kids you are always in my thoughts. I work with adults who began as your story everyday and I pray that you don't end up as they have.

To the rest of us I say educate yourself, speak up and out, reach out to another, but know when to back away and that some people just make bad choices.

If you are looking for other ways to support people affected by domestic violence I could write you a whole blog on that topic alone. However buy the Big Issue it supports the vendor, many of whom are victims at some stage in their life. Or checkout the lovely Lina at as she has found a beneficial and aesthetically pleasing, not to mention useful way to help.

If you are in South Australia this may help.


If you do find yourself in this situation or know of somebody who is, it is never too late to speak out.

Take care and I hope your journey is not a painful one.

Friday, 18 November 2011


I am jealous of planned and ambitious people!

The sort who are always together, knows their stuff, are directed, officious and make things look easy.

Jealous because I am in all essence the opposite. I am a drifter, I fall into things rather than plan, I am a procrastinator and I blame that on being a balanced Libran - I see two sides to everything.

I fell into nursing, I fell into year 12, I fell into university, love and marriage. I am not sure that I have ever actively planned and controlled anything in my life. I have never been a planner.

I never planned to get married - I did.

I never planned my pregnancies and they came to me when they should have.

I never planned my career - but I am always landed with opportunities.

In the past year I have been inundated with jobs and job offers. All great, all I am passionate about.

I took one, it was a three month stint. I took it because I felt I had the skills to take it on and make effects within that three month period.

Now 7 months later I am suddenly the level 3 RN in our team.

This is not the first time I have been a level 3 RN, but it has been a long time. Since then  I have had children and my priorities in life have changed. I no longer live, eat and breathe work......

I do the work I do because I love it and I am passionate about it, not for any other reason. Prior to being the level 3 I thought I had the best job in the world. It was a combination of all three of my passions - teaching, community and critical or advanced care. My level 3 is amazing in every sense of the word, she has it all, brains beauty and just one of the nicest people I have ever met.

I have big shoes to fill, but only for 7 months. I wouldn't have taken this in a permanent sense. I feel fraudulent for even having the role - how did I end up here? Yes I went through all the normal routes and interviews. Why didn't I stop and say thanks but no thanks? Why is NO such a hard word for me to say?

I love my level 3 and for some strange reason she has faith in me. She also knows I will keep the program true in its path and I have no agendas and she thinks I won't stuff it up in her absence. I really hope I don't.

You would think I have never been here before, but I have. Last year instead of getting the casual lecturing role I sought, I ended up being the lead lecturer and location coordinator. Prior to that I had acting team leader and quality coordinator roles; Clinical Nurse roles at level 2 and level 3 Clinical Nurse Educator roles.

First group of international students as a Course Coordinator
Now the University has several groups running concurrently.

None of them I asked for, all of them I was asked to do and I did and apparently well.

I know I am a good nurse. I know I am great with the clients I have.

I don't think I am a good leader. I don't do authoritarian and I am a hopeless delegator, I always teeter on trying to be a friend to those I am supposed to lead and in doing so I fail to delegate.

Now it is time for me to "man up", take the lead, take charge. But what if I don't know what I am doing? Say the wrong thing or look stupid?

Once that really would have bothered me and from a personal level. Now I don't actually care what people think of me, but worry that what I do will reflect badly for the rest on my team.

So maybe fate controls me, but it is time for me to take control. I am grateful to receive the challenge, I think...........

This is my unplanned journey and I need to know the destination.

Stay tuned for this one as I fumble and stumble and make the odd bumble.

XXX Fiona

Monday, 14 November 2011

Dyson Delights

I love vacuuming.

Don't panic you read correctly I really love vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms. I don't care for the rest of the household chores.

To me there is nothing more rewarding than starting out with a crumb, dog hair, dry play dough covered floor and as you vacuum, you can see you are removing the detritus away.

Every time you vacuum you get to start with a clean slate again.

Last year when times were tough in my life, my computer and work became my life. I would sit on it for hours at night after having finished all of my jobs, working away, I rarely slept more than 3-4 hours.

I used to give myself breaks and wander aimlessly through websites. One night I obviously entered a competition. I never enter competitions.

It was on the AsthmaSA site and there was a Kids Breathe Better link. A competition was running and you just needed to write your story about your child's asthma.

So I did...apparently. I was away camping at our piece of Paradise in October last year when I checked my e-mails and there was an e-mail telling me I had won a DC23 Turbo vacuum from Dyson through the Kids Breathe Better Competition.

I almost deleted it. I thought it was SPAM, a joke, a virus on my MAC.

However it was true. I was one of 500 around the country who won a vacuum.

So it means my writing was maybe not so great with so many winners, but that is besides the point.


I needed a vacuum, my estranged husband had my beloved Dyson at his house in the country where it was REALLY needed and I was using my mums spare Dyson upright.

I was so grateful for this wonderful prize and I put it to good work every few days.

This was truly the highlight of my life last year. I told everyone how excited I was to have a new vacuum and be using it.

They all thought I was mad.

That vacuum was a sign of hope to me at that time and I cherish it, (you wouldn't think so if you saw what it lifts from my floors though!).

I was just so lucky.

Try your luck you just never know!

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Wow what can I say?

I was done for the day with my blog.

Then I was asked to do something amazing.

My friend is a very talented photographer, unlike me. She and another three businesses are fundraising for a family and their little girl with profound disabilities and a dazzling smile.

I have tagged and shared where I could and will participate in the clothes swap and donate some wine for gifts and auction.

Tonight however I was asked to "PIMP THE CUBBY".

Apparently that is my skill, my forte, only I can girly it up on a budget, which is great in keeping with my most recent post Thrifty not shifty.

To be asked by friends to help them is a privilege and gives you a great feeling.

To be asked by friends to help complete strangers, well that is an honour that words fail to describe.

I hope to do this little girl, her baby sister and mother and father proud.

Girly stuff is easy and I have everything I need to hopefully make this little Cubby a home for these two little cherubs.

It is a 24/7 workload that is unrelenting and unforgiving to parents of disabled children. It does however come with its own joys and triumphs that parents of non-disabled children won't experience in the same way.

As many of you know I work amongst many disabled clientele and I love my work. To be able to "play" amongst this family with a child with a disability and hopefully create them something delightful well that will be a joy. The last time I did something voluntarily for a family with a disabled child was back when I was studying and a severely disabled 8yo girl, her mum and grandmother were trialling a patterning program and needed volunteers.

While I have just collected a series of things for our cubby house and when I put it together it will look great, I am delighted that I will get to put my creative genius to further use.

I am so grateful to be asked and hope I do them all proud.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

THRIFTY NOT SHIFTY - Green with gratitude

Now I tossed and turned over this blog title. Do I call it green with gratitude, or Retro Vision or Thrifty not shifty?
Since the blog is based on gratitude, that title won, but I really loved Thrifty not shifty! Then I decided to be greedy and blend the two!

I think I am the queen of green.

No, I don't recycle every single container, piece of paper, cardboard or tin. I do use commercial washing powder but 1/3 what they recommend. I use vinegar for softener, cleaning drains, cleaning in general. Borax is bountiful, Eucalyptus oil a godsend and Lemon's essential. I use earth friendly washing up liquid, I prefer candles and essential oils to artificial air fresheners. Ooh and it doesn't cost the earth! In winter I put a pot of water on the wood fire with cloves and cinnamon and vanilla.

 Since ever I can remember I have loved "old" things, junk my mum called it. To me it was like treasure hunting. It still is.
My nana's old tins that she rescued from the shed for me, Grandpa was storing nuts and bolts in them! You will also see an old salter scale that is still in balance, jars with various cutters and old mixing bowls

 The lure of an op shop is often just too great for me to resist, or a second hand store. I mean who knows what hidden treasures lurk in there?

I am not the only one with this little habit.
The great Diva Kamina over at blogs solely about this. I often share the little gems of stores I find with her, so that she too can check it out and share with others.
Kelly Doust has even created a successful writing career and website around upstyling what you can find, check out It is classy not trash to be stiff with your cash!

 I have a wardrobe full of fabulous finds almost all from op shops. They are clothes I could never buy full price. Such as two cardigans from this season, Country Road and Witchery, both pure wool and two of them for less than $15.00, a whole lot less than they were new. A Ginger Crush bag, Nine west kitten heels, Veronika Maine skirt and pants, Stephen Dattner suede jacket, Jaqueline Eve clothes, Espirit, Susans, Portmans, my wardrobe is bursting at the seams.

 My children also have a wardrobe full and I mean full of clothes all brand name and all from the secondhand stores. Some still have new tags on them. There are so many parents out there that see something, love it and buy it, but don't stop to consider if it will actually fit the child when the right season comes around or the child goes through an unpredictable growth spurt - as they do, who would have thought? So I buy my girls secondhand clothes and they are still well dressed and they ruin them at kindy or childcare or in our own backyard and I don't have to sweat it out over the replacement cost or chide them unnecessarily over clothes.

Nor does it mean that they have one good outfit that they are rarely allowed to wear and when a special occasion comes around, no longer fits them. It is also a far cry from the tragic memory I have of hand me downs. My cousins were all older and the clothes were well and truly out of date by the time they came to me. The best I had was Grasshopper, my children have general Target, and others such as Fred Bare, Pumpkin Patch, Milly and Molly, Eeni Meeni Mini Mo, Milkshake, Espirit, Country Road, Gap, Next, Ooobi and Sprout.

 It is not just fantastic clothes that lure me, but nostalgic memories. I often seek things that I loved in life at somebody else's home. My style I would say is classic/antique/eclectic, but not offbeat. I recently bought a tin letter, bills, misc. holder that is the same as my nana's, my mother was horrified, but I loved it. Bit pricey though I paid $4! Occasionally I can find a nice Carlton ware piece or some junky old vase that looks great with flowers in it.
My $4 letter holder, RRP as high as $20 in some trendy "retro" stores.

 Back to my kids. Our toy-room is um.....a little bit like a kindy room. Few of the toys I have bought new, most were secondhand or gifts. Great learning toys, hammering blocks, duplo, marble run, operation game, barbies, prams, irons and books. We love books, I will always let my children buy books and often this is their treat.

From this to...see below

The $5 Fisher Price Secondhand dollhouse, complete with climbing baby.

Playroom converted old sunroom at the front of our house. Wall of bookshelves was originally timber, carpet was on sale and the redecoration of this room cost less than $300, including lots of white paint to cover the dry old timber!
We have lots of creative and educational toys, run of the mill - over marketed toys, lots of books and now two matching secondhand white desks with hutches. There is a wall of white board and blackboard for drawing and writing, peg board for hanging and is their space to do what they like!

 My love of green extends to saving toilet rolls for craft and any type of wrapping, it never takes long to collect huge piles and often I take these to childcare and kindy. My kids are often screaming to do craft and a bit of sticky tape, some cheap shop embellishments and home made glue go a long way for an afternoon of entertainment. If supplies are low, you could always find a place such as That's not Garbage. . Such a simple idea for being green with benefits for so many.

 This week has been hard rubbish week in our neighbourhood. For once I didn't have much to throw away. However someone still found use in my old clothes horse, junky metal rods, a broken dolls pram and old kids bike and an old round table that will be nice with a coat of white paint - I just never got round to it. I am not sure why the little old cane chair was left though?

Me well I found two perfectly good steel painting ladders, timed nicely for house painting this summer and a little mantle piece, which will be great in the new cubby. Could have picked up four matching dining chairs for our set of six, but I was not quick enough on my walk around the block and well people come equipped with trailers early on the Monday stuff goes out for pick up.

 So being green is so easy, it does not mean radical change or going without. In buying what others no longer need or want I am saving myself money and the earth. There is no need for cotton to be unnecessarily irrigated in the Australian desert so that I can have nice clothes, I am buying something that has already been through the manufacture process and there is almost no packaging or bags, as here in South Australia we no longer have plastic bags and need to recycle or use environmentally friendly bags. I never go without, the money I save on clothes I can instead spend on food or decent footwear. I probably should just save it for that renovation that will never take place if I keep going to op shops!

So be grateful for others who have more money than you and throw away perfectly good items. Be thankful for those impulse buyers who we can then cash in on for great finds. Thank god for the Salvos, Vinnies, Goodwill, not to mention the numerous other little gems in our midst.

Try the multiple online sites too:

Check them out you too may just be surprised at what you find.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Being Authentic

Who are you?
What do you stand for?
Are you authentic?

I began blogging by default. I felt grateful for the good things which existed in my life, which was a bit of an epiphany for me against a year of perceived negatives.

I felt a need to share that gratitude, that no matter what life throws at you, "it 'aint all that bad!"

My journey was one through ante-natal and post-natal depression, my husband finding a suitable replacement 2 weeks after the birth of our second child, taking on a job that was really designed for three people and the realisation that my whole world was out of balance.

I resigned from that job and reduced my hours until a replacement could be found. I worked on being the best person I could knowing that it would pay off in the end. I worked on being a better mother, I worked on doing things for myself - that I have never done before.

I connected with buddhism, meditation, the church, my friends new and old. I discarded time wasters and energy sappers.

I felt empowered I felt good, but I couldn't work out why; my life was still far from settled.

I was being authentic to my own strengths.

How could you not love life with these two?

Your Top Character Strength
Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a "real" person.
Your Second Character Strength
Perspective (wisdom)
Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.
Your Third Character Strength
Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.
Your Fourth Character Strength
Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.
Your Fifth Character Strength
Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

I have to say I totally agree with these strengths. They are me to a tee!
I have decided to blog on authenticity rather than gratitude today after reading a blog which rang alarm bells for me. It is someone I know. I read with interest the blogs and the old links and am dismayed at the actions and thoughts of this person. They always played the game, the good guy, cultured person, ambitious and worldly.
How wrong was I!
What I have discovered is a person who is so lost in the world that they don the skin of a chameleon. They fit to the circumstance and the people they are with. That is sad for them and those they deceive by not being themselves. It is sad for their children and cost a man his marriage and family. This person married because it was part of their plan in life, not for love. It is no more than a form of entrapment. What is sad is that two little people have been affected by this and in a negative way. Their main carer is still lost and this affects children raised in environments where there is disequilibrium.
So how do you know if you are being true to yourself?
Take the test and see.
I undertook this survey as part of a book group I am in. It was a great realisation for me and others in the group.
So go on take the test, you have nothing to loose and everything to gain.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

It's a dog's life

I am glad I am not a dog!

Strange statement that may seem, but how many times do you hear people comment how good it would to be a dog? "Next life I am coming back as a dog, lay around all day, go for walks, get fed and patted". You know the deal.

If only it were that way. Not all dogs have it good. Some are abused and mistreated from conception. See "Oscar's law". If that little fella doesn't break your heart, well you best be off to the doctor to check you still have one!

My second labrador came from a pet shop. It was one of those adopt a pet weekends. Really a shameless marketing scam to sell people dogs. I saw this pitiful little female lab in the window and well I just had to do it. We took her home and all weekend I worked on my partner (now husband) to keep her, after all our 2 year old lab needed a friend. I won, but I did have to take her back to the pet shop to complain.

Meg, 11 years old - she was hit by a car a few weeks later

At the vet check she had ear mites, fleas, muscle waste and calcium deficiency, in all likelihood she was going to have joint problems. So I fronted to the pet shop, kindly demanded some ear and flea treatment and calcium and complained about the state of the supposed 8 week old pup. The less than charming response was "We can take her back and refund your money". 

As if I was going to hand her over to someone who wouldn't love her as much as me! We called her Meg.

I discovered she came from a "breeder" (I use that term loosely) in Victoria. At around the same time Don Burke from Burke's Backyard was highlighting the "puppy farm" industry, that is where my Meg came from.

Over the years I have told anyone who will listen not to buy from pet shops, but I never knew the extent of the industry until joining Oscars Law. Deb Tranter and her merry band of volunteers I thank you for bringing the cause to the people and highlighting the truly disgusting conditions some of these dogs begin and end their lives in.

We are also all too aware of those poor creatures who find a home and are severely mistreated. They end up dead through neglect or chronic disease, sometimes they can not be rehabilitated to be rehomed and are euthanased. Bait dogs, racing dogs, working dogs, pet dogs.

Thankfully we have people like the volunteers at South Australian Dog Rescue, AWL, RSPCA, Lort Smith Animal Hospital, CARS, CAWS and Flicks Cat Rescue, Help save the furry ones and I know there are more.

Today I took my girls out to the family day at Pet Deli Anzac Highway for the Pawfect match day. This is where SADR bring some of their prized K9s looking for some new place to call home.

I fell in love with a girl called Chicken. I could see from her scars she had been living a rough life before hand, but she was just so beautiful and gentle. I had to resist even though I know Charlie our current lab (No.3) would love her. We hope to renovate soon and I know too many stories of builders leaving gates open.

So Chicken I pray that you find a good home and that you get the love you deserve. To all the dogs and cats in limbo tonight, I am sending you my love and hopes for you to get a new home.

I am so grateful not to be a dog, although it would be pretty good to come back as one of my dogs...........

Charlie was "to give away to a good home" and 3 years old when we got him, he is 9 now.

This is the gratitude train, enjoy your journey and be thankful you can choose where you sleep tonight.

Another wonderful NO KILL SHELTER

Friday, 28 October 2011


What are your views on marriage?

Mine were always that I was quite happy to just be me and never get married. It would not in my mind have changed the love and devotion that I have for my now husband.

In "Baggage from the Marriage Carriage" I talked about this lack of desire to get married.

However, it obviously took my now husband some serious courage to ask me and he did it in the most spectacular way.
I said yes for the right reasons, I married for the right reasons, I stay married for the right reasons.

I indicated that we have had our struggles. I think most marriages do.

One of my fabulous and clever friends sat me down one night and put it quite plainly.

 Friend:"What is the worst case scenario? Do you still love him"

Me: "I suppose, I wouldn't put up with this crap if I didn't would I???"

Friend: "Well you at least like him, right?"

Me: "Yes, he isn't always bad"

Friend: "So if we know you at least like him and possibly still love him, lets look at how often you feel that. So if 20% of the time he is a D*&& and 80% of the time he is okay would you throw it away?"

At this point there was quite possibly an incredibly vague look from me as I tried to compute this, or maybe tried to imagine if he was good 80% of the time. So she re-explained.

Friend: "If he is good, you like him, love him 70% of the time and the remaining 30 % of the time you can't stand him, is that worth leaving him for?"

Again probably a blank look from me.

Friend: BIG SIGH! "Worst case scenario here if 60 % of the time he is ok and the other 40% he is a D#$% would you end your marriage for that?"

Me: "Probably not, but it may be more like 50/50 at the moment!"

The point is she highlighted to me that I had something worth saving, he didn't abuse me physically or mentally (though I may argue that during my dark days of PND), he was a great dad and generally a guy that most people like, just not me.

I had choices, either way I took it. It is easier to walk away. I have done it, twice now. The first time in 2006 was easy, just me and the dogs. The next time in 2010 was not so easy as now I had two little people to think about. However, we were not in a good place. We were both really good to each other around our children, but once they were in bed resentments flowed and the tone turned sour, that was if he bothered to be home. His job was very "social".

At the time of me leaving for the second time, I was recovering from PND and just received a post as a University Coordinator. I knew something was not right and a bit of digging and more bluff than fact and I outed his emotional relationship. The me I expected to see was not the me that came out. I will talk about that another time.

Instead I was mature, calm and collected. I first and foremost put my girls welfare first. That meant being nice and inclusive of their dad who was now living 2 hours away, all the while his girlfriend was 5 mins around the corner from me!

I looked up websites such as Dr Phil, found some guy called Jay who blogged about marriage from his point of view and that is good to get that insight. I also found another woman who wrote about how her husbands affair was the best thing that ever happened to her. I thought she was insane and full of the proverbial. What I discovered is that I was not alone in my troubles.

I put to my husband a financial separation plan, I wanted nothing of him, only the house that I paid for, the rest he could have, all the money, trusts, furniture, whatever just take it and I knew I would be able to start again and be fine, but I could never again save for a house. I forwarded him an invitation to a Growing Together in Marriage weekend, not for us to stay together, but so we could communicate nicely and be good separated rather than together. He took it as a sign and wanted to give it a go.

It was a great weekend and I would recommend it to anyone in South Australia.
 Please contact them at this site:

It was a turning point for both of us. A way to begin to mend. It is not run by counsellors per se and whilst it is endorsed by the church due to their belief in marriage, don't let that dissuade you.

Here I am 18months after my marriage ended, still married, still struggling, but nonetheless still happy.

It does not mean I am weak, gullible, stupid. It takes a lot more strength to stay in the face of adversity than it does to leave. Leaving is hard, but staying is much harder and requires a commitment for life.
 It is not for the faint hearted!

SO IS YOUR MARRIAGE WORTH THROWING AWAY? Put a figure to it and see; you, like me, may be very surprised.

Stay on board the gratitude train this journey is not over yet, this carriage will always be loaded.

Thanks to my wonderful friend Lia for keeping me straight on the tracks.



Today is a day for Daniel. Those in Australia have watched this mystery and now confirmed murder since 2003.

A 13 year old boy in a red T-shirt disappeared on Queensland's sunshine coast and until recently was not found. We now know he was murdered and the alleged perpetrator of this crime is in custody, small mercy.

Today around the nation thousands of schoolchildren are wearing red in memory of Daniel.
This is a fundraising effort to raise awareness of child safety.

For more information go to

A bit closer to home and another shattered parent is finding strength through helping others through her tragedy. Sonya Ryan lost her daughter Carly who was 15 in 2007 to an internet predator. Sonya through the Carly Ryan Foundation raises money for awareness and promotion of cybersafety.

Through education and awareness they hope to save lives.

For more information see

There are unfortunately too many stories like this to tell. I wish there were none.

Hold your children close to you and cherish them in your hearts. The trick is to not be overwhelmed by the evil that exists in this world and smother your children. If you do so then you will never teach them to be street smart.

Be aware as a parent educate yourself, be smart, be safe.

Evil will always exist in the world, it is just the way it goes.

Thank you the Morcombe family and Sonya Ryan for the work you do to try and keep our children safe.

I wish for you that your journey through life is a safe one.

P.S. Whilst some of our children are purposely taken too early, other children have a struggle from the start but manage a smile that breaks a thousand hearts. See Ella Skye's Backyard Dreams.


Today a beautiful lady passed away at home on the floor.

No it was not one of my clients!

It was my husbands paternal grandmother, a beautiful 94 year old lady.

Tonight in his grief I thanked him for sharing her with me. I have known her now for 15 years and met her in person about 10 years ago. Distance and time always being the inhibiting factor, she was in Wagga Wagga and we were in Adelaide and the rest of her family from Queensland to Mount Gambier, Dubbo, Sydney and her heartland Bourke, NSW.

She was the youngest of 7 children, 5 brothers and an older sister. She often recounted her story of how she started to become a nurse, but had to move home to nurse her Dad.

She rarely had a bad word to say about anyone and loved cricket. The love of cricket she said came from having five brothers.

She met her husband in Bourke and they shared a love of life together until he passed 10 years ago. She remarked how my husbands hands were just like Phil's and she loved that someone "had" them.

The DNA runs strong through her genes, her son, my husband and my eldest daughter all have similar traits and looks.

90 years between those blue eyed girls

All three lovely ladies, June 2011
Easter 2010

The last picture was actually in 2010 on our visit when I had her admitted to hospital following a double heart attack. She returned home as determined as ever and there she stayed for another year.

She had a smile that lit up a room and her eyes sparkled whenever she smiled.

She still had the final three cigarettes in a packet on her mantle piece from when she quit 25 or so years ago. Also on her mantle piece sat a heavy marble clock. It had been in her husbands family since 1905. Only her grandson could help her keep the clock time and it never chimed the same after it had to be repaired 3 years ago.

Her secrets were love, early to bed and early to rise, cross words to keep the mind sharp, reading the newspaper and watching current affairs programs such as Four Corners, Landline and Australian Story.

She was perhaps the longest subscriber to The Western Herald, Bourke's local newspaper and she always held her home town dear in her heart. I am sure today Bourke will feel it too. The Rice family and attached lineage has lost a beautiful lady.

From Dulcie onwards there are no other girls until her first grandaughter in 1976,  as she had two boys and then no more girls again until our chubby cheeked, blue eyed angels came along. She loved being around them and was thankful for our journey's across the Hay Plains to see her.

I am thankful to have been a small part of her world.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Give your partner something they need

Say what? Why would I do that you may ask?

How energy consuming is it when you fight with your partner. Did you get the last word in? That fabulous little jibe, laced with a gorgeous dose of sarcasm and a touch of acid at the end. Did your partner call you something you don't like or comment about your wide load?

Do either of you feel better for it?

So you are peeved beyond a doubt at each other, get it out by saying something stating just that. The facts about how you feel and what it is doing to you. Own your own feelings, use I statements, do not project to the other person that this is how they make you feel. No one has the power to make you feel anything.

You control your own mind and thoughts and even when it seems totally out of control, you still own that mind and what you are doing with it. Remember back to the post Crazy little thing called anger?  (
We talked about anger being a state of mind and that all you need to do is observe it and move on. Anger is a primitive emotion and it is meant to serve a purpose. That purpose was not to harm another with harsh words, anger was originally part of our "flight or fight" response. Now all we seem to want to do these days is fight, fight, fight.

Observe the anger about your partner being a *&^$%#%$^&(*&^&^%$%^ or whatever you want to call each other or think. Then move on, tell yourself that in 5 minutes this will be of no relevance, in 5 hours it is so in the past it is hardly worth thinking on and in 5 days there will be bigger fish to fry!

Remember no one has the power to make you feel any particular way.
Own your anger and actions.
Replace any thoughts of it is them or how they make you feel with "I feel this way because you did not listen" or whatever it may be.

The anger is yours, brought on by you, not your partner.
Really let it go, walk over say nicely "At the moment I am struggling with how I feel. I need some space. I love you".
The first few times through gritted teeth it may seem disingenuous, it gets easier, even in the really big blow ups.

You may say this is rubbish, as if it could work.
 I was the Queen of hostile anger, many people still fear me from my blow ups when I was younger.
The heat of my anger burnt many people including me.

Now pfft, I let it go, most of the time. It is a lesson well worth learning, one worth practicing and life is too short to spend any of it angry at the person you love.

Here's looking at you Rich, I love you!

The Camping Trail

We go camping every year to the same place, with the same group, plus or minus a few people.

I think it is great for the children and development and experience. It is not so good for me.

All that packing and planning and then on the return home, cleaning, unpacking and storing just does my head in. It is not a holiday for me at all.

The boys (big boys, not little ones) stay up all night drinking and waiting for the sea to be right so that they can fish off the jetty. The sea was fine plenty of times, but they were not. At 2 days in they had demolished 3 bottles of rum. Uuugh I can't stand the smell of it and I was not alone.

This year we had the added pleasure of rain. Lots of it, the day before we were trying to pack the trailer, the day we travelled there and tried to set up.

Ok it was not that bad, we were able to set up and we set up our communal area and everything was dry, albeit rather cold. Nothing however stopped me longing for the ease of a caravan; rock up, roll out the annexe and everything else is already inside, including the fridge! I didn't mind if I had an old retro one (probably more me anyway), certainly didn't stop my friend and I dreaming of a Winnebago with all the bells and whistles.

However, if I look at the picture above of The Simpson's camping I realise we had it pretty good.

We had the privilege of  an easy 2 hour drive from our capital city to the pristine Yorke Peninsula (where the asthma rate is high and dust and pollen proliferate). Whilst last year we whinged about the rudeness of the grumpy caravan park managers and vowed if it was repeated this year we were out of there and would find somewhere better. 

We have looked around and well apart from no kids playground and a primitive camp kitchen (some are better than my kitchen at home), where we stay is pretty good. It is an easy walk through the park down to the jetty and boat ramp, but there is no swimming beach, you need to drive to that and that is worth the 10minute (if that) drive. There is a kiosk and a walk up to the hill to the Tavern. There is a town with a shop 20minutes away and a great little pub and a market each October long weekend.

We can catch squid to our hearts content, garfish, the odd red mullet and whiting. There is the choice of boat or jetty fishing and then a night of cooked seafood that fed 16 of us easily and we didn't think we caught much!  

So we will be back next year and Trish and I plan to have caravans by then (who knows I may be living in one if I start the reno's!) as a Winnebago is off the affordability list - who knew!

We are the queens of the point, reigning over our beautiful families and our piece of paradise.

How much better could life get. I am so grateful to have such friends and such a place on our map. Get out in the world and see what is beyond your backyard!

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Happy Mental Health Week everyone. If ever there was an intentional pun, that sentence was one.

Seriously wouldn't it be great if for one week all of those afflicted with mental illness just had it lifted for the week. So that the cloud of medication, behaviours, substance abuse, physical, emotional or other abuse and the ignorance of society at large was just magically erased and they could live and function as any other person.

I could give you all the stats on suicide, illness, depression, substance abuse, PTSD and so on. But I won't, I don't need to. I know as you do that the problem exists, so I am not intending to statistically verify it in this post, I just wish to share some stories.

Mental Health afflicts so many in society, across all classes, ages, genders and cultures. Yet it remains one of our biggest taboo subjects. I know many who snigger at another's misfortunes of depression or other mental illness and yet I KNOW they silently battle their own. It is these cases of glasshouses and stone throwing that make me not want to help some when the glasshouse eventually caves in on them. But that is not my nature and I help anyway.

It is also the people who should know better that grate my bones when it comes to this topic. My lovely friend and her husband very tragically lost one of their twin girls when she was 6 weeks old. 8 Years on we are all still crying over this event. No we are not pathetic and we are not wallowing in sorrow, we celebrate her strength that she showed in her 6 week battle - she was after all only 30 weeks old in total. It was my friends dad though who I feel said one of the most hurtful things. He is a mental health nurse. It was maybe 6 months down the track, could have been more and my dear friend was still hurting, depressed, grief stricken. I believe rightly so, there is no time limit on grief and she was functioning in life raising her other twin now home from hospital and her little boy. Her babies had arrived at 24 weeks that alone is hard to cope with, to see them have surgery several times and then loose one, no one should have been questioning her illness. Her dad basically told her to get over it, he couldn't understand why she was so upset, still.

He understands now, he sees how we all still feel and support this couple. I am sure if he could take those words back he would. No matter what the cause of a persons mental illness, they have a basic human right to dignity and respect.

A client of mine was sexually abused over a prolonged period as a child. It was violent and her mother the person who should have protected her, shunned her and hid the abuse as many did back then. It has had an untold impact on this woman.

 She has a borderline personality disorder, eating disorder, has been incarcerated for solicitation and theft; she has compulsive thoughts and behaviours, self harming and sexually projects a lot of behaviours and tries to masculinise her appearance, not because she is gender confused, but because she does not want to attract men; she does and they are always the kind that repeat the pattern of abuse. They rape her without full consent, but she won't report as they sometimes give her gifts or money or more than likely drugs. They physically assault her and now we suspect she has an STD, I am surprised she hasn't had one or more before.

Her primary case worker has a practice of disengagement with her and does not want to participate in trying to re-engage this client with mental health services. He thinks it is futile and time wasting. I think he does not care and is not fulfilling his professional duty.

It is our role in healthcare to do no harm, to protect and respect the choices also that our clients make. We are not saying this client can not have sex with men or engage in any of her harmful behaviours but I believe that we have a duty of care to protect this client from herself. Sexualised brutality is all she has ever known. It is like those who were institutionalised and then put out into the community. They floundered because they knew nothing of how to function in the everyday world. Nor does this client, her world is one of use and abuse, self punishment and harm. She needs to be shown the way out, she needs someone to help her navigate her way out of that maze in her mind. She will never be cured, but she is young and has a lot to offer.

My uncle was 40 years old when he gassed himself with carbon monoxide in his treasured ute in front of his treasured pet "Princess". Princess had to be put down, she could not be rehabilitated to re-home with anyone else. My uncle was a worksite union representative and his depression came on the back of some very strong workplace bullying and harassment in a male dominated industry. There was sufficient evidence so that when my tenacious grandmother took the international giant to court, they quickly settled the sum. Money won't replace his lost life. He never was able to get married or have children or finish renovating his house. All because his workplace did not take his mental health and the causative factors contributing to it, seriously.

So Happy Mental Health Week, buy the Big Issue if you are in Australia and support those vendors.
Here are some other resources too as provided by Women's and Children's Health Network, Child and Youth Health, South Australian Government.

  • Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family
    Mental Health Association (AICAFMHA)

    Promotes mental health and wellbeing of Australian infants, children,
    adolescents and their families/carers.
  • Black Dog Institute
    The Black Dog Institute is an educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility dedicated to improving understanding, diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders.
  • Men's Line Australia 
    Mensline Australia is a dedicated service for men with relationship and family concerns.(relationships, work, fathering, separation, stress) 24 hour, 7 day a week telephone helpline.
  • Reach Out!
    An Internet site providing information to young people experiencing distressing
    or complicated situations. 
  • Reach Out ProProvides access and advice for health care professionals on a range of technologies and online resources for psychosocial support and mental health care provided to young people.  
  • SANE AustraliaA National Charity helping people affected by mental illness. They have a large number of publications for sale.
Let me know if you know of or have tried others. The MOODGYM was also another good self help site for CBT. It can be found at

I am grateful for my inner strength and mental health and wish you all the best with yours. Remember if you need any help or know of someone who does there is always help out there just ask. 

This simple act of asking was what the recently successful national RUOK day was all about. See it here at

Thoughts are with all of those afflicted with mental illness, who are homeless and isolated due to this, one day I hope we make progress.