Thursday, 29 August 2013

Boat Repairs et cetera.

Hi All,
thankyou for the lovely encouragements, it means a lot and makes me smile.

Deb, some of the best people have leaky boats.

So I took the boat to a couple of different boat builders.
One will spray the waterproofer on.
One will have a look for holes around the keel.
The boat is better.

When we feel a bit stressed or overwhelmed, it is good to visualise a calming image.
Perhaps one like this?

That's better, isn't it?

It will be a lot better when we are there...
Tonight we are off to KL for a couple of days, then to Koh Samui.

Just a little break to refresh, relax and recharge.

I hope you all stay well.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

My leaky boat.

The person in the picture is, alas, not me.

This is not a post about asylum seekers. I don't know much about that issue, but feel that they should be treated with far more compassion than they are.

This is more of a parable.

Living life has often been likened to being in a boat at sea, and I am going to hijack this analogy for my own purposes.

So I am in the water, paddling my little dinghy, with all the other dinghies.

In the last few years, I have become a master paddler. I have become adept at navigating rough seas. Learned to enjoy a calm sea. My arms have gotten stronger and more sure.

Currently, the weather is good. Blue skies as far as the eye can see. Lots of nice people in their dinghies to keep me company. Have managed to paddle clear of a few of the dinghies that t-boned me and made me wobble.

Yet in the last couple of weeks or so, I have noted the back of the dinghy sagging a bit. I look at the floor of the dinghy and sure enough, there is a bit of water in the bottom of the boat. Dang, it's sprung a leak.

I set to work looking for the leak, plug up what I can see. I get my little pail and remove the water, while paddling and keeping the dinghy on course. I stay close to my fellow friendly Dinghy captains.

Unfortunately, the bottom of the boat keeps filling, and the back of the boat continues to sag. Not so much that it risks being engulfed, but enough to be of concern.

I continue to paddle and pail out the water, but I get a bit panicky.

I need to paddle ashore and get the boat properly seen to, before things get too dicey out on the water.

Of course, this is an analogy. I am no good on the sea, as I get motion sickness.

The weather I describe here can be related to the prevailing external circumstances of our lives. There is often fuck all you can do about them, other than attend to them if they are rough but enjoy them when they are calm.

Me, the paddler, is the rational me, the one who has been through stuff and gotten stronger, who has, through therapy, learned a lot of techniques to deal with things much more effectively than before. Who can accurately make an assessment of a situation and respond to it

The boat is my brain, my mind, my mood. It responds to the assured self talk, but also to the ambient level of happy hormone within it.

And you can probably work out who the boat builder ashore is.

In this post I talked about coming off antidepressant medication. It was a decision made in conjunction with my specialist, done under supervision and with the idea of it being a permanent wean.

Lately I have been feeling increasingly ill at ease. Sometimes it is background noise, and I can be distracted from it. Sometimes it rears its head in the form of being acutely and absolutely convinced that a particular bad thing is going to happen (the bad thing differs with the circumstance). I cry more easily and I take a lot of things personally. I don't feel good enough.

Worse, I feel ashamed of feeling that way. Guilty about it. Frightened by it.

With my Mad Skillz in Positive Self Talk (TM) I say to myself, it is ok, everything is fine, you will be fine, that bad thing is not going to happen. I go for a run. I hang with my peeps.

It's at best partially effective (so I keep it up) and at worst not effective at all.

Because when the boat's leaky, a paddle and a pail will only cut it for a short time. Gotta get the boat seen to, so it doesn't capsize.

I've been there and I know the signs.

I may just have to accept that though I am a great paddler and have lots of good people to paddle with, my boat might just be more prone to leakage than some other people's.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

On Buyer's Guilt

Hi there and happy Monday!

My weekend was taken up by speaking at a conference, attending said conference, then going to a 15 course Chinese Banquet, drinking too much wine, sleeping poorly, doing a 10km fun run (on poor sleep and less than appropriate food and drink) and then bumming around.


Today I am going to talk about buyer's guilt. Specifically my buyer's guilt, and how I am dealing with it.

I grew up really quite poor, from a single parent family. Growing up, my mum sometimes couldn't work, and even when she was, it didn't pay well. We didn't have much money at all, it was just enough to pay for necessities.

Hence a fair amount of the time, my duds were from opshops, or very cheap stores, or hand me downs. And there weren't many of them. Sometimes the kids would pick on me for this. Being clever, a bit chubby and, later, having pimples, they had other things to pick on me for.

[My younger brother and sister wore trendier gear. This was because a. My mum started working a bit more, b. they could nag better than me and c. they left school early and could buy gear themselves.]

For most of my 6 years at uni, I supported myself financially, and still there was little money for funky duds. Again I felt a bit plain compared to my friends who were living at home with mostly very wealthy parents, and had generous allowances.  I dealt with it.

I remember getting my first paycheque as an intern. It was literally 10 times what I had been getting on Austudy. 

I went shopping. I spent $400, and much of the stuff was on sale. I thought that was a lot, and, for a lot of people, it is. It was exhilarating. Then a much less pleasant feeling came along. Guilt.

Every time I bought something, or booked a holiday, or did something nice involving spending money, there would be the same pattern of brief exhilaration, then guilt, and a bit of anxiety. It was quite an amorphous, vague feeling, but over the years it became quite erosive. It is only recently, with the help of therapy (more money >_< ) that I have become more conscious of it and broken it down a bit.

These thoughts were generally involved. They might not sound rational but these sort of things rarely are.

  • "You don't deserve it"
  • "You can't afford it"
  • "Your money will go away and you will be left with nothing but a pile of clothes"
  • "You are superficial"
  • "You could have saved that money and be buying something much more worthwhile".
Yes, I felt that because my Mum couldn't afford nice stuff (she can to a degree now), I didn't deserve to have nice stuff. It is amazing what we rightly or wrongly learn and integrate into ourselves.

Also, every time I made a transaction, my mum would say to me "jeez, more stuff, don't you have enough?" My now ex-husband would say to me "we can't afford that, I want to save money, you are materialistic".

The thing was, I happened to like nice stuff. Still do. So I bought.
There was also a degree of medicating other stuff in my life with a spot of shopping. It was temporarily effective. Temporarily.

 The thing was, I never, ever got us into debt, never spent more than what I earned, and we did ok! We saved a deposit up after 2 and a bit years of full time work.
I could never bring myself to do the massive designer purchase, either. Probably a good thing.

A year or two ago, I dealt with this and a lot of other things that were making me feel bad.
Some things came out - I work hard, and I do deserve nice things. 

This is not quite automatic. I still feel guilty and anxious after I buy things now. Last weekend, I went to a Veronika Maine fashion parade, and was the unwilling (ok quite willing) victim of some serious clothes pushing. There were some purchases made.

I scared away the guilt and anxiety with I work hard, and I do deserve nice things. 

I also shop a bit more mindfully now. Here are some tactics that I use:

  • I only ever buy things I love. If I am not sure, I generally walk away, or I defer the decision
  • If I love it, I will pay good money for it, within reason. Generally I rarely spend over $250 on an article of clothing, or shoes.
  • I try to wear most of my clothes rather than just sticking to the same things over and over again.
  • I try to cull regularly
  • I realise that it is ok to rehome things - normal people turn wardrobe items over every season/ few seasons.
  • I don't buy stuff that was too small as motivation to lose weight. (I used to do that. That fucked with my head)
  • I am setting up an ebay account to sell some impulse purchases
  • I have set up an automatic savings account so there is less income to spend thoughtlessly
  • I pay off credit card purchases as soon as possible, generally within a week or two.
  • I have no hesitation in taking things back for exchange/ refund if I am not happy with them.
  • I shop with the full realisation that stuff looks pretty on, but generally it won't make me happier particularly if I am not already feeling happy.
I realise that I have enough, and I am enough, and that yes, I work hard, and I do deserve nice things.

So, over to you...

Is what I am saying familiar? Foreign?
Do you have any principles re buying? Quality? Quantity?

Friday, 16 August 2013

Why I have done away with Facebook (for the moment anyway)

Hello, and happy Friday to you all....

I have recently suspended my Facebook account. It was something I had been thinking about doing for a while.

Facebook is a bit like alcohol, smoking or cocaine, insofar is it often takes a few goes before you quit for good. And, like them, it is probably best if you never started to begin with.

Here are some more FB/ Drug similes: [Drug addiction is much much worse! I know!]

  • It made me aggressive, sometimes. Like when I saw a status update that was whiny, passive aggressive, or one bitching about one's children, I had a strong urge to write something tactless in the comments section.
  • It affected my I wasted a lot of time.
  • I would have a craving, have a hit, then wonder what all the fuss was about (I realised a lot of my "friends" are boring), then feel guilty that I did (ie people's lives are boring)
  • Like a hit of heroin is often cut with junk substances, like ajax or baby powder, facebook came with its own (Candy Crush)

I had a think about quitting.

My main concern was that I would lose touch with people. Then I worried that people would worry about me, think that I had broken up with the fella or something else had happened.

Then I had a think some more

The important people in my life can find me easily. The 280 or so others can find me if they want to. They could google me if they were desperate.

If they were worried, then they could jolly well call me. So far I have had 2 friends call and say "hey, I see you have deleted FB, everything OK?"

Facebook "friends" can be a bit of a fake currency. Often it's a whole bunch of people who I once knew whose lives I am semi-interested in stickynosing (I am a big stickynose), who I would never actually go out and share a bevvy or meal with.

Try as you will, for some people, facebook "friendship" is as far as it will ever go. I had a few promising FB exchanges with a girl I went to uni with. We tried a few times to go out, but, on all 3 occasions, she piked at the last minute.

There are people who put out cries for help on Facebook - feeling down, feeling lonely, feeling anxious. They get a few "everything ok?" on their comments. I wonder where their spouse is, where their entourage is, who they can rely on.

It has been said many times but we are more connected than ever, but more lonely than ever. It is very easy to type "you ok?" on a comment but that is a very poor substitute for a call on the phone or even, God forbid, a knock on the door with a bottle of wine and some chocs and a box of tissues. If I had any inkling that a friend was upset, I would call them, not inbox them.

I think we spend too much time on Facebook and not enough time engaging with others meaningfully.

Facebook is a nice distraction. I like making witty comments on there and getting lots of likes. But it is extraneous.

In a way, Facebook was my way of keeping very tenuous friendships alive in my own head, a way of keeping the lines of contact open.

But dammit, I want to mean enough to people that I can call them, or they can call me. A bilateral effort is made to keep contact.

Generally I have become weary of putting more effort into friendships than the other person. It is energy sapping, and I am putting a stop to it. Closing FB is my way of saying "If you want to be friends, you make contact in a meaningful fashion." Those who are the most meaningful will stay in my life. As I get older, I care less about the attrition and focus more on those who are present. That is a good way to be.

A more streamlined, authentic life.

And more time to blog and talk to my other "imaginary friends" (you guys)
But hey, at least you guys write more than a sentence, there are no hashtags and your spelling is generally good.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Green Breakfast Smoothie.

I have been having this for brekky for the last few days.

It is hard to get a wheat and dairy free brekky, and this fits the bill.

It is yommy and keeps me going (and I am a guts). It is possibly the lauric acid in the coconut yoghurt.

  • 1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 dessertspoon of ground almonds (or other nut/ nut butter)
  • 1 dessertspoon coconut yoghurt
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • a bit of mint
  • a bit of lemon juice
  • some water
Whizz up in blender. Enjoy. Power through your morning. Feel the love.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


I don't really have a blogging niche.

Not a mummy blogger, not a foodie blogger, not a political blogger, not a feminism blogger, not a fashion blogger.

I have a lot of interests though, lots of passions, lots of things I like to talk about, or indeed have a conversation about.

If it was not already evident, one my biggest interests is food and wine.

In Melbourne, we are absolutely spoiled for choice and many Melburnians can rightly call themselves connoisseurs.

I have been lucky enough to travel and taste some of the world's cuisines, from the humble and cheap to the haute cuisine. I love it all.

Right on our doorstep, a 5 minute drive from where the fella lives, is the restaurant Attica.

This year, Attica reached number 21 in the World's 50 Best Restaurants.

It goes without saying that there is a bit of a wait to get in to dine here. We booked 4 months ago, aiming for the time of our 1 year anniversary.

We went there on Friday.

I have been to Mugaritz, a few years ago. Mugaritz is in San Sebastian, Spain. We couldn't get into El Bulli. Mugaritz is 4th in the world.

I can say that my experience at Attica equalled that at Mugaritz.

I will stop yabbering, here are the photos.

The Menu. We had the matched wines.

Amuse Bouche: Mustard Greens and Creme Fraiche, Lemon Myrtle.

Amuse Bouche: Walnut cream with pine mushrooms

Amuse Bouche: Mussels. Mussel Shell with painting of Mussel farmer.

Slovakian Wine - Who Knew?

Crab with Sorrel


Orange Wine - Who knew?

Potato in Earth - Signature Dish.


Fish in Paperbark

Apple Vinegar Icecream

Plight of the bees - a multi-layered fruity delight.

Pukeko (chocolate) eggs - painting by chef's father.

Between the sweet and savoury courses, we were shown the kitchen garden out the back. A couple of the chefs showed us where they grew the greens that were nicely arranged on our plate. They gave us some hot apple cider and a marshmallow to toast over the fire.

It is worth noting that a lot of the rest of the vegetable matter is either grown at Ripponlea Estate (a Stately Home just down the road) or foraged from near the head chef's home.

Kitchen Garden

Toasting the marshmallows

You saw on the menu what we paid.

Plus we had champagne and gave them a tip.

There will be quite a few people who say "how could you pay that much?".

The price is on par with other restaurants of the calibre, FYI.

It was wonderful and we really enjoyed it. Here was what was so good about it:

  • The service was perfect. Assured, intuitive, elegant and friendly. Quite a few waiters were from overseas, mostly Europe, presumably doing some sort of fine-dining hospitality training.
  • The wine matching - there were some unusual varieties of wine on the menu, many of which I have never tried before, and I always get a kick out of trying a new variety of wine. The wonderful thing, though, was that, on their own, the wines were probably not what I would pick, but with the food, they really sang. The wines came out before the courses, so we could try them on their own. This is the art of the sommelier.
  • For a top notch restaurant, it was quite down to earth. There was not the flashy crowd dripping in bling that you would see at Vue de Monde. No regulars. Just lots of food enthusiasts.
  • Similarly, the food was all local and seasonal, and mostly fairly ordinary foods (albeit of the best quality), lifted by the chef into something sublime. No foie gras or truffles.
  • That we got to see the kitchen garden - it is great to see some of the process. They have an open part of the kitchen where we can see the chefs working. Mugaritz went one better and took us into the kitchen, but they weren't busy.
Ben Shewry, the head chef, is a New Zealander. Most Kiwis are fiercely patriotic (my fella is a Kiwi) and this patriotism (for the antipodes in general) really showed in his culinary creations. The Potato dish is a nod to a Maori hangi. He does not need any fancy French food or magic to make the food sublime. The pride in the produce, the final product and the wine pairings was evident, was duly warranted and it was exciting.

If you can, do try and go. It is worth the hype.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

RIP Candydog.

I just had a call from my ex.

Candy had been vomiting all night.

She was taken to the Vet. She had a very tender belly and was unwell, so the decision was made to put her to sleep.

RIP little hound. May you go to dog heaven, where there are plenty of people to give you belly rubs, bits of food and treats. Where there are heating ducts to lie over when you get cold, and carte blanche with lying on the couches.

You bought us so many happy times. Even though we annoyed you and teased you with food, you never bit or growled.

You were so well behaved at cafes. Strangers on the street would squeal with joy when they saw you. You graciously allowed them pats. Sometimes, if you saw somebody you particularly liked, you would sit down with them. Sometimes you would even roll over and let them rub your belly.

That was the kind of doggy you were.

It was just such a shame that I didn't get custody, but you were looked after very well, and given a great place to run about. You helped keep the peace in a difficult situation.

That was the kind of doggy you were.

You will always be remembered. I am glad that you were well until nearly the end, that you did not have to suffer too much.

Your mummy loves you xxx

Adios little dog.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Monday Musings.

Hello Again!

Thankyou lovelies for your comments on my last post.

Just sitting here at my desk, having attended to the Monday morning rush and wondering how it is that the weekend went by so fast.

On Saturday night, the Fella and I went to Cicciolina in St Kilda for an early dinner. I really recommend this place. The steak was to die for - it is not known as a steak restaurant but there it is. The service was also excellent - as they weren't busy they lavished attention (and little tasties of wine) on us. It is a Melbourne Stalwart, and was one of the first of the "no bookings for dinner" restaurants. Hence on a Friday or Saturday night it is good to get there early so you don't have to queue. If you are from interstate or overseas, definitely check this one out, as St Kilda is a great place to visit.

After that, we went to see the band "Of Monsters and Men" at the Palais (oh snap Ruth). They are an Icelandic indie Pop group and are great fun. If you are unfamiliar, please click below.

Lots of folks of all ages there, singing along and bopping. Very cutesy but in a cool way.

Yesterday I had the dog. Here is a picture

Did you or did you not squee at this? I would hope you did squee.

Anyway - Candydog isn't too well, her cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. So I was granted some access. The fella and I took her out for breakfast (she loves Cafes) and she MAY have got a whole pork sausage to herself. Plus half of my breakfast. We then took her for a walk. She is a bit slow on her legs, and has gotten tubby from the steroids she is on to hold things at bay. We let her sniff at every blade of grass she chose, piddle where she needed to and drink from as many puddles as she liked. She was a bit tired after the walk.

I have been a bit under the weather for the last week or two. Possibly some remnants of the SSRI withdrawal, but have had a lot of sinus headaches, and have been feeling bloated in the tummy. I have been on some antibiotics for some perioral dermatitis. I think this has upset things. All yesterday, everything I ate or drank was followed by a sinus headache (last night's was awful), nasal congestion and my tummy blowing up. I was most unwell last night, which is not the way I wanted to spend the festival of One Year.

After a bit of consideration, and given that I have just challenged myself to a month (mostly) without wine, I am going to see how I feel with 4 weeks off the wheat and dairy. Plus I am going to take some probiotics.
The reasons are below:

  • I was diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption in 2008 - part of the list of things to avoid is wheat, as it contains fructans. When I was strict off the wheat I felt really good, far less bloated and far clearer in the head. (I stopped being so strict cos I like wheaty things) If you want more info about fructose malabsporption I can write about it.
  • I get very sinussy when I have dairy in significant quantities, and low fat is worse than full fat dairy. It can make me feel crappy.
  • I am tired of feeling bloated. My fella is tired of me farting.
  • It will probably be less of a challenge than wine avoidance.
Already this morning, I dodged the cream sponge that was there to celebrate a colleague's birthday. It was easy to say no after having made this decision.

I shall report back on compliance, and how I feel. NB I am off to Attica for a dinner with the fella so might have to have a night off - though looking at the menu it doesn't look like there is a lot of either on the menu. Will report on that meal too.

Casein and gluten are probably not any of our friends, but some people tolerate them better than others. That opinion is a bit of a fringe view, but is scientifically reasonable, and there is mounting evidence for it.

Speaking of sick and tired, I have had it up to my eyeballs with the federal election already. I like some of the reforms that Labor has made - Gonski, the NDIS, the Carbon and Mining tax. I think they need to go further. I think Labor's hardline stance on refugees is awful. I cringe at the prospect of more Labor infighting. And don't even get me started on Tony Abbott. Malcolm I could tolerate.

I think you can guess who I will be voting for.

I will actually be away overseas on Sept 7. Thank GAWD.

So tell me:

Have you ever tried eliminating things from your diet? How did it go?

What pisses you off most about the political parties?

Are you going to see any music gigs soon? Planning any good restaurant feeds?

Saturday, 3 August 2013

One Year.

Most of the first half of 2012 had been tumultuous.

Lots of dizzying highs. The marathon. Training. Dating, and feeling things "click with people". Lots of new things tried, done, and the exhilaration of it all.

Lots of harrowing lows. Dating, and having things fail quickly and unexpectedly and epically. Lots of loneliness. Quite a few toxic people in my life. Divorce proceedings.

All the while I was trying to hold down a job and a PhD. Thank God I had no children to look after too, I can only imagine how hard it is.

In about July of last year, I went overseas, to the US. Partly to look around San Fran, and partly for a conference. It was a short trip, about a week.

I spent most of it (the evenings anyway) drunk, and quite a lot of it crying. Sometimes in public. In retrospect, a drunk, lone woman is a vulnerable woman. It was risky.

I had a very memorable point where I hit the bottom, and bounced up (see my "about" page)

I was a funny mix of very sad and emotionally drained.

I came back - my voice hurt from talking a few days after I started back at work. I realised that was because I had barely spoken to anyone while I was away.

I began to think:

This is Ridiculous.

I have a lot to offer.

I have a lot to look forward to.

I have plenty to do.


I need to stop the longing for things I don't have.

I need to be on an even keel in order to function.

So I made a fairly conscious decision. I was going to give the dating thing a rest and concentrate on enhancing and appreciating the fabulousness in my life. Yes I would probably get back on the dating website, and soon, but only once I had gotten a good foothold with things. I didn't know how long I would be single for, but I wanted to, for the most part, enjoy the good bits.

I even googled "How to embrace being single" or some such. I was already doing most of the stuff.

I spoke about it with my therapist. She was happy.

That Saturday, I went out and booked that trip to Cuba. I conversed and flirted with the travel agent. He was cute.

I went and bought myself some pretties.

That night, I had a dinner out with a dining club I went to. On this occasion I had been given a last minute spot as somebody had dropped out.

 I enjoyed the company there. They usually let me choose the wine, as they thought I was good at it. The crowd is on average about 15 years older than me, both genders. No sparks had flown with any of the gentlemen, hence I felt it was a good low pressure environment. I could practice my witty repartee and harmless flirting.

I donned one of my new frocks and trammed it in. I remember feeling really excited, like something good was about to happen.

There were pre-dinner drinks. I spotted a nice looking gentleman who was also part of the group. "Hellooooo" I thought. There were a few ladies hovering about. What the hell, I started a conversation. He was a bit shy, maybe standoffish. He warmed up a bit.

We made our way over to the table. I thought "sit next to me, sit next to me". He sat next to me.

We discussed wine choices... After a glass or two conversation became easier.

After a little while I mentioned that I was perfecting my curried sausage recipe. He turned to me and said "I love curried sausages".

The conversation got a bit easier after that. After dinner, we all headed off to a bar... Except he and I broke off from the rest of the group. The Night Cat was crowded, but an upbeat live band was playing. I sat with my drink and told him "I can't help it, I have to dance". So we did. The crowd pushed us closer together. I turned to face him. We kissed. And we kept on doing that.

After a little bit of that, we headed off to Polly bar. There were more drinks. More talking. More kissing. At one point, he invited me back to his place. I declined, saying "it's not you I don't trust, it's me". We arranged a time to meet again, 6 days later.

We stayed there till kick out time, then we caught taxis separately. He texted me saying how much he enjoyed his night, and I reciprocated.

The next morning, I awoke with sore lips, and a nice feeling. I kept it in check, trying not to get too excited. I had been disappointed before. Plus, that day I had my very last (promise) date with a guy from RSVP. Lunch in the city. He was nice but there was not a lot of common ground.

I went to the loo. Checked my phone. A text message.

"I am thinking Friday is a bit far away. Can we go out tomorrow or Tuesday?"


I replied "sure. Talk later?"

He arranged a date for the Monday night at Sarti. More food. More wine. More kissing.

The date ended on Tuesday morning.

There were more dates. It was wonderful, though part of me was frightened. Another part was saying "hang on, I was meant to be enjoying singlehood."

I had a bit of 'splaining to do to my therapist the next week. She was happy. 9 days after we met, he posited the term girlfriend. I was taken aback. What happened to the 3 months of skirting around the issue that other people seemed to do? I said he could be my boyfriend, and massage therapist. I drive a hard bargain.

It's now a year to the day since we met. Yesterday, I had a text from my ex, saying that candydogs cancer had spread, and offering to bring her around. So today the ex met the fella. They shook hands graciously. Something poetic in that.

Every day, I am grateful we found each other. We try to be the best partners we can be to each other.

It is not perfect but it is wonderful.