Friday, 24 February 2012


What an amazing two days I have had and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.

Tonight on my way home on the tram there was much yelling from one obscenely loud and by presumption only person with mental illness.

I watched everyone shift uncomfortably, look around and pray the person did not sit with them or come near them, lest they take out a screwdriver and fatally stab them in the neck.

The gentleman sat in the seats across from me. I smiled. He called for his mate Liam. An indigenous male late 20's but prematurely aged. The loud gentleman was talking and encouraging his mate and asking after his welfare and then began to talk to me. People look, what will I do??

I talked back as I would politely to any other stranger on the tram. Infact his world and life views were insightful. Liam however could not string too many words together, but he tried, until the lure of his bottle of personally blended vodka and apple beckoned. This upset James the loud person. He asked his mate not to drink

"Mate look around, noone drinks on the tram, you don't need to. Liam mate why would you want to do that, why can't you just participate in society. You don't need to drink, you are an awesome bloke. Just sit here and be me mate and have a yarn."

Unfortunately the alcohol won. I know Liam was really trying to push my buttons, see how uncomfortable it could make me. I don't look like a nurse, I wear no uniform, had he had known his antics  had little effect, who knows how much further he would have upped the anti.

James got off at the same stop as me. He did not want to be around Liam drinking, he did not want to attract that trouble to himself. We had a chat after, he kissed my cheek and called me the epitome of humanity and how I had made his day. That people like me come once in a lifetime and we parted ways.

I felt humbled, what a compliment and what an insightful conversation I would have missed with him if I turned my cheek like everyone else.

The next best part of my last two days was taking part in HWA 2 day workshop in Adelaide. Hearing keen and passionate people who are active in workforce reform.

That it is not the skills people have, but the attitudes and values that they bring to the workforce which are pivotal.

We also got to hear from the keynote speaker Mary O'Hagan - International Innovator, Thinker and Writer on Mental Health.

Her lived experience was touching and poignant and really common sense. However, so much common sense is lost in our modern world as we rely less on our thinking and instincts and more on technology and policy to drive our agendas. She brought care back to the consumer as a fundamentally consumer driven perspective- idealism or a much needed realism?

New Journey-Destination unknown

Thursday I was accepted into Uni. Yesterday I received the enrolment.

Not sure how I will cope with working, studying and trying to keep the house clean. Plus the never attempted task of arranging a designer to look at planning a much needed renovation.


Possibly or if not, I may end up so.

But watch this space as I have no idea where I will end up.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Grateful for a good upbringing?

As a teenager I held a lot of animosity towards my mother for the upbringing i had. She wasn't loving enough, supportive enough, anything enough! She just bought me things and bragged to her friends about my good grades. I felt like nothing more than a possession.

Fast forward and I am 18 and my mother asks me this very question "Was I a good mother?"

It may have been a loaded question that she expected me to answer with my usual well thought out diplomacy. A thinly veiled attempt to have an ego boost. She was at that time the age I am now. I shudder at the thought of having any child in double figures. Anyhow my answer was this:

"Well you were a good mother to my brother and my friends all think you are really cool and can relate well to weren't the mother I needed. I needed a mum when I was 12, I don't need one now."

I think back to that conversation and I cringe. I am a mother and I know how that would hurt. On the other side, I also know the constant pain I felt growing up with the mother I had. My father always trying to smooth things over and condone the behaviour of the woman he loved. My brother rarely suffering the viciousness of her words or punishments.

However, I also applaud myself for the honesty I showed in telling her what I felt. At the time I felt it was a gentle let down. It was the best I could do.

As a parent now I try and model the behaviour I wanted to see in my mother. Don't get me wrong, I fall down and stumble back into the autopilot mode of parenting as my mother did. That involves yelling and a lot of it. They are the days that I hate. I punish myself for those days more than anyone else in the world could ever do.

Our children are watching, always watching. Observing like little sponges they take it all in. The days I am at my worst they seem to be watching the most. I then see it reenacted in all its glory with teddies or Barbies. It saddens me, but it also inspires be a better mum.

I am not aiming for super-mum, just to be the best I can be. A parent that my girls will look up to, relate to and talk to. It only requires commitment and attention. Attention to how you feel within so that you can control your inner self before it explodes. Attention to your children when they are talking to you. Attention to the world around you so that you can see the beauty and share that with your children that exists all around us.

The below clip is from you tube and highlights well how our children pick up on things. It is heartbreaking and enlightening at the same time. It should serve as a wake up call for all adults who smoke, drink excess alcohol, binge eat, have substance abuse issues or physically or verbally mistreat their children or partners. Little ones are watching and if you wouldn't want your children doing it, why do it to yourself?

I am not the fun POLICE here either by the way. Just think though if you don't want your kids doing it, then should you. Is it really about age or lifestyle choice?

So as a child and teenager and even in my 20's I did not respect the upbringing I had. Materially I had it all, but for me inside I felt empty, hollow, unloved and unloveable.

I still struggle now, however I have learnt to accept materialism is the only way my mother can give. You take the good with the bad.

So as I continue in my journey through parenthood and life I remember to be grateful for the things I could not as a child/teenager. I remember how it felt for me so that I can empathise with my children and as a form of self regulation for me as a parent.

I am not perfect, but I am grateful. I think that is a worthy lesson in life for my kids.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


I recently read an article about the New Groupthink.

Have a read and see what you think.

I am in two minds about this. You see I am an introvert by nature, always have been.
Why am I then blogging to the universe and facebooking? Well I counterbalance it by not twittering or any other new world connections!

I do the things I do to connect, promote or inspire. I don't seek money to benefit, do google ads or adsense. I have no need to gain money, just bring balance to my own world and others.

Back to being an introvert.

In reading the article we can determine that introverts are most creative in a private space. I agree. I hate being watched or on show, I hate being the center of attention. Yet I lecture, chair a network of advanced nurses on the fore of system reform and I post publicly on internet sites. I put myself in front of an audience. Part of that is for self challenge. To see if I can do it and part of it is to share with others.

I cringe before, during and after every "performance". Judging myself before others or how I think others may do.

I would rather be behind the scenes doing great things and occasionally getting some acknowledgement or thanks for it. I would rather be in a cubicle, hidden from the world. However, that cubicle would need a window with sunlight!

So I function as an extrovert on the outside, whilst really I just want to run and hide. But is it that I am by nature an introvert and to share the benefit of my learnings I become the extrovert.

I work in a shared space office, I always have within my less clinical nursing roles. In my mind it makes it awkward, I feel exposed. So I can only imagine how my students or the patient's feel in an open space.

The nature of my latest work is very much collaborative and it is interdisciplinary. It requires multiple conversations a day to cross reference our clinical skill sets in solving client problems. It also creates problems.

In an open space it is very hard to get an intimate or private conversation going. Some conversations are not meant to include everybody. It then becomes difficult in a share space to perform certain functions of leadership roles. There is no private office space and this often means we are relegated to the halls. That looks clandestine and unprofessional.

We run interdisciplinary network groups. These are great for shared problem solving, networking and discussion. The problem with that is, some like sharing more than others and some don't want to participate. Introverts may not feel comfortable speaking up or out and by nature the group becomes unidirectional, shifting in the direction of the most outgoing performers and that is not necessarily the best way.

I prefer to appear like I am constantly struck dumb, than to speak up and look stupid. I am not stupid and when I have my evidence gathered I am happy to share, more than happy.

So I will stick to my true internal needs and perform how I see best.

I think Anais Nin sums it up for me in her quote:

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
― Anaïs Nin

That is how I see life and writing, lecturing, sharing and collaboration. To live life in the moment and then have the ability to reflect in retrospect, once you have put it out there in a group model everyone knows your thoughts!

What are you? An introvert, an extrovert? Does it matter?

And yes there is the intentional jibe in this post to the wondrously talented x- factor wannabe who penned a song by this name: Introvert, extrovert, Does it matter? They were the only words to the song, maybe he should have had a brainstorming session!

Saturday, 7 January 2012


Take time to stop and smell the roses.


Our sense of smell has the ability to stir in us great emotion. Happy childhood memories, repulsion, fear or a sense of De' ja vu'.



At the top of your nose inside there is a section of epithelium containing special neurons. These neuron contain cilia which are little hair like projections (the same type we damage in our lungs through smoking) to help make the area of air that they come into contact with greater.

These neurons come into contact with molecules in the air from a particular object and this is what we smell. In order for us to smell something it needs to be able to give up these molecules. The molecule binds to the cilia and triggers a reaction which is processed by the brain and enables us to perceive and interpret the smell.

In the book Molecular Biology of the Cell:
Humans can distinguish more than 10,000 different smells (odorants), which are detected by specialized olfactory receptor neurons lining the nose.... It is thought that there are hundreds of different olfactory receptors, each encoded by a different gene and each recognizing different odorants.


Smell is believed to be such an emotive trigger as the olfactory cortex (part of brain determining smell) has a direct neural link to the hippocampus. Yes this is spelt correctly. The hippocampus is part of the limbic system which help us to form our short and long term memories.

It is this direct link and processing which makes it so sentimentally arousing. Other senses are processed in the thalamus and then make their way to the limbic system. You see! 

Now we all love Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, he makes being a geek über cool. He explains on ABC's scenic news that this type of memory is called a "Proustian Memory". It's named after Marcel Proust, one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century. He describes this phenomenon in the opening chapter of his novel Swan's Way, the first novel in his mammoth seven-part work, Remembrance Of Things Past.

Primitively speaking this may have happened  for several reasons. So pre-refrigeration we could smell if our woolly mammoth meat was rotten; to detect food; to attract a mate and for our babies to make their way to the mothers breast whilst they were out beating the path to civilisation.


I have had many an occasion where de' ja vu' has kicked in just through a sense of smell. I can't explain it more than that.

Last night though I had the pleasure (for once) of taking the dog for a walk, whilst my husband did the dishes (also for once).
As I walked the familiar, yet unfamiliar streets as it had been such a while since I had the privilege (wow so many people are renovating, I am green with envy!), I strolled past houses and BANG there it was....a smell.

Not good, not bad, just a memory.

One of them was the smell of an older couples home and it brought me back to Nan and Pa Crafters home on Tollner Road. Not my real grandparents, but a lovely old couple we lived next door to when I was very young, 4 and under.

It is the smell of tea leaves, tobacco and old fashioned soaps, mixed with lemon scented washing up liquid. It may not sound ideal, but it was a lovely smell and made me remember some lovely people.

Another smell from my childhood is one I am experiencing now, summer rain and the smell of a thunderstorm. Today is a sultry 32c and it rained late this afternoon. My husband mowed the lawns this morning and the orange and lemon trees are in summer bloom. The mixture of scents is one so rich and warming and reminds me of how summer was always a happy time as we were all outdoors, playing, exploring, mixing with the neighbourhood.

This was a 39c day in Clare and a summer storm rolled in over the vineyard, normally you would see the Skilly Hills Ridgeline behind the trees
All roads lead to....PINE TREES surrounding Mount Gambier.

It brings me to another memory triggered by smell. At work the other day we were talking about Christmas trees and one colleague had been to the Christmas tree farm to get a real tree. Everyone oohed and aahhed. I stayed silent. Repulsed by the thought of a pinus radiata in my home. Why? We grew up in the South East of South Australia, surrounded by them. The bane of my allergies and asthma as a child, but excitement in winter with all the mud puddles bathed in yellow rings of pine tree pollen.

Isn't it amazing what a smell and memory can do?

I am grateful that I can smell, for a while after a home cleaning - over bleaching in an unventilated room incident, I lost my sense of smell. There are also many medical reasons why people can't smell. We all know the feeling of a blocked nose in winter with a cold and how we can't smell anything and taste does not seem the same either.

Be grateful for your sense of smell and take time to stop and smell the roses!