Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 Top Nine. Goals.






Firstly, I hope youse had a good exmas. Judging by the blogs, it looked marvellous. Even if it wasn't hunky dory, congrats, you survived. Also, George Michael and Carrie....bloody hell...

I had considered 2016 a bit of a fail, and recent blog post have been a bit on the bleh woe is me side. 

Today, I did the #2016topnine whatsy on Instagram.

I had a couple of comments on this pic above. One was saying that it was a very accomplished year. The other said it was the best top nine they'd seen.

Those kind comments really snapped back things into perspective for me. This top 9 shows a few good things that have come out of the year.

I got my PhD printed up and the degree conferred (left 3 squares)

I tried my best at my sport and this got recognised (right middle)

I spent some time in some very great tropical places (Bali, Thailand (top middle), Bali again (top right)

I take pleasure in the small cool things (bottom right)

I have made friends with my thick (powerful) thighs (bottom middle)

And I continue to be delightfully inappropriate and disgraceful on a regular basis (middle).


I have not squeezed a baby out, nor do I have one in the oven. That has been farking hard. Motherhood is, in some ways, revered and getting pregnant is an accomplishment. A feeling of failure and some dread about the processes has been present for much of the latter part of the year. However, there have been wins. I am a bigger (weight wise about the same size, but you know what I mean) person compared with this time last year.

I had been looking on 2017 as a bit problematic. For various reasons (job application, impending IVF) it's been a bit hard to plan things, hence I found it hard to look forward to things. This led to a need to take the grind one day at a time. Still, I do well with some goals, and the end of the year is a good time to consider them. In setting these goals, I have taken some inspiration from this article.

Aims for 2017 and beyond. They are "SMART" goals mostly.

Work:

  • The novelty of working in 3 different workplaces is wearing off, and the work details are also getting tiring. I have been successful in shedding some roles that have not worked for me, and in their place I have temporary roles. I have asked for some changes in my current positions but things have not fallen into place. What I would like is to consolidate my work into 1-2 different places. To do this, I may need to be more assertive with certain people, as, in retrospect, I have missed out on things for not being this way.
  • Research wise, I need to finish what I started. I have one or two more PhD proceeds papers to get published. I need to grit my teeth and finish this research project I started, even though it is not going well at the moment. I have a few other side projects that I am collaborating on. Now is probably not the time to take on anything "big", research wise.
Fertility
  • aim to start IVF between March and May, at a time when I have relatively less going on. Commit to doing that first cycle and seeing where I am after that.  
Travel
  • Overseas travel is a huge thing for me, but for various reasons it's hard to plan grand adventures. I think that now is a good time to explore Australia, as I have been neglectful of this. To go on weekend trips with friends and my partner. I have never been to Wilson's Prom, or Broome, or the Barossa.
  • I have a local conference in mind.
Family/Partner
  • It's been hard this year, particularly in the latter part. I need to keep things light and polite with them. Regular but superficial contact. Keep the boundaries firm. Step back when it gets too much. 
  • My partner has been working hard and I have been disinclined to bother him with things, and as a result I have withdrawn into myself a bit. We both need to talk with each other more. This is sound advice for most couples but it is true for us. 
Crossfit/Fitness
  • Depending on where I am with IVF, I would like to master the following
    • Box jump, 20"
    • Pull up, unsupported (even just one)
    • Rope climb (I actually managed to shimmy up a rope about 10 cm today, woooohoo)
    • Double-unders (maybe 5 in a row)
    • >100kg deadlift, 45kg clean and jerk, back squat loaded with body weight on barbell (either by increasing lift weight or decreasing body weight, or a combination)
    • 5km run in under 33 minutes (that's fast for me, my best ever time was 31:30
  • Continuing to exercise at least 3-4 times per week - if I get pregnant I can still train but the goals will need to go on hold! It is gold for my mental health.
Health
  • don't do the flopping on the couch in the evening with the bottle of wine thing, or at least minimise this.
  • Eat vegetables with lunch and dinner.
  • Eat small amounts of healthy food regularly to avoid getting hangry and wanting sugary snacks. Hanger is a big problem for me, and it makes me ill tempered.

Anyway I think that will do for now.

Do you have any goals you want to share?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

All over the shop. Mindfulness is Key.

A list of miscellanea, for posterity:

  • Melbourne weather is finally coming good.
  • I've PB'd my back squat. 70kg. Yass.
  • I am off to the mandatory counselling / nursing training for IVF on Monday. Nothing starting till next year but still...onward.
  • Every couple of years or so, my mum has a bout of depression. She went MIA for a few hours one evening last week after sending out an email to a coworker who was concerned and called the police (who were in touch with me). She ended up texting to say she was ok. Harrowing.
  • I went to NZ to see my partner's family over the last weekend. Great to see Christchurch rebuilding. Not so great to get text messages from mum airing grievances to us, and offering unsolicited advice, which kind of made the weekend hard. I've offered concrete help but set some boundaries.
  • I've been doing quite a bit of extra work, which has been fun but exhausting. One of my interventions today I estimate will have saved $100K but more importantly made a punter happy. Winning.
  • I have a job interview in Feb. It's good but that timing makes it hard to plan my year.
  • Christmas songs make me want to run out of the shops screaming. My partner suggested, as a strategy, replacing all the lyrics to xmas songs with swear words and singing them in my head, so as not to teach little children bad ways. However the fact that Johnny Farnham is releasing an exmas record makes me happy. 
  • My partner has been promoted in his job, to Professor. Exciting. 
  • I have had my first PhD paper accepted into a decent journal, contingent on a few minor changes.  
  • I have to meet with one of my bosses tomorrow to discuss the progress of my research project. It is not going well, due to factors that I can't avoid. Still, I hate having to do it, but discussing strategies to move forward may make me feel better.
  • Off to Bali for Xmas, leaving on Tuesday. Running away? Yes. But I am mindful that I am doing that and mindfulness is key.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

If not fear, then what?

A marginally more hopeful but equally philosophical post tonight, before bed.

I've been at a low ebb, emotionally. Not so low that I can't do what I need to, not so low that I don't enjoy crossfit, but low nonetheless. I was wondering when the infertility induced low might end, when a clear answer about how to go forward apropos to IVF or not might appear. I was wondering when I might be able to regard each circumstance with which I am faced neutrally, rather than mentally trying the future child/childfree cloak on.

It's hard when you are feeling bogged down to know what the actual problem is.

Essentially it is just a matter of being afraid that bad stuff would happen, and that I would not be able to cope with it. In the past, FYI, bad stuff has happened and I have dealt with it and moved forward.

As it has before, the barbell bought me clarity. We were doing clean and jerks tonight at Crossfit.


If you care to watch the video (or not), you will see it is a technical movement that requires a swift, strong initial pull.

As the bar got heavier, I would start pulling the bar off the ground then hesitate.

I did not get my C&J past 40kg...my prior best is 43.5kg from about 5 months back, and I really wanted to crack 45kg today.

These complex movements do not work without a. loads of practice and foresight and b. an attitude of "I got this". It is quite natural to be scared when approaching a heavy bar, as there is a risk of injury with improper movement. However, hesitation does not help.

I could do with this attitude towards my box jumps. And also more generally in life.

I wondered what I would be able to do without being so consumed by fear?

My buzzword for 2016 was patience - I've certainly needed that! Perhaps my word for next year will be fearless.

PS - Yesterday, I approached my 2RM back squats yesterday with a little fear and a lot of confidence, the right ratio, and did the biggest squat I'd ever done - 65kg x 2.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Speaking plainly (of infertility and doubt).

I have just gotten back from a wonderful 9 days in Thailand, a couple of days in Bangkok and then a week in Kamalaya.

Kamalaya was eye-wateringly expensive but I did it as a "treat yoself" thing, and to embrace the childless situation in which I have found myself.

It was worth every penny. It was absolutely magnificent. There, I felt the best I had in about 18 months.

I have a tan, but the post-holiday blues have struck, because one cannot run away from one's problems.

I was trying to think of a nice, nuanced way to write this, with clever analogies, however I have had a day where I will just put it the hell out there.

I wrote a post alluding to all of this, and it was put back into draft mode. Somebody, in a very kind and well intentioned manner, said that they hoped I had a child, as I will love them. I have no doubt that I would love a child, however one is not forthcoming. It is not that simple.

So here it is, simply:

After 2 years of trying for a baby, including a miscarriage and monthly rollercoasters and a few tantalisingly late periods. I have had my hair thin and a thick smattering of acne. I have debilitating PMS which actually meets some criteria for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. I feel so bad a few days before my period that I just want to sleep for 5 days to let it all pass. I am not so alarmed by these feelings anymore, as I know they pass, but they are still bloody unpleasant.

I am tired of it. I realised this during my time in that magnificent place. It is little wonder that I don't feel ready to do IVF.

IVF gives many a lot of hope, but it seems like a war of attrition - stimulate the ovaries (without overstimulating them), get a good crop, then inject a sperm into them, then freeze them and then test them for abnormalities, then thaw them out and stick them up the wazoo and see if they stick. At each point there is a risk of failure. Success is by no means guaranteed. It just takes all the wonder and joy out of things, for me, anyway. It's another roller coaster that I am scared about getting on.

The only narrative that is out there is that the infertile woman goes automatically to IVF. There is no talk of stopping and having a think about things, because the time is a'tickin! There is the narrative about the woman who was desperate for a child and went through dozens of cycles of IVF and then JOY!

I have always had misgivings about doing IVF, and they have not disappeared now the prospect is increasingly real. Rather than push these misgivings to the side, I actually have had a think about them (and dropped a few dollars in the therapist's office).

Mostly, I have had to have a good hard think about why I wanted to have a child. To talk about this in a safe environment. It is hard to talk through things with others, as the response generally is "oh go through with it, you will love having children, or you don't want to regret not having a child". These are undoubtedly well-intentioned but not very helpful for me.

Had the pregnancy proceeded, I would have embraced it without too much thought and been buoyed by lots of lovely happy hormones. However, the requirement to mix up a little human in a test tube, for me, has forced me to consider things. It is not a comfortable process, and, without going into any detail about the thought processes, it is one I am still struggling with. It is hard. I have also started to think about a life without a child, and what that might look like.

Anyway, I just wanted to get that offa my chest.

I have learned from all this a way to respond to people who are having a tough time.

The only way is to say "that's shit. I am really sorry" +/- "want a wine/chocolate/cuddle/diamond ring"


Monday, 31 October 2016

Greyhounds. Ocsober over.

Happy Halloween! I bought chocolates for the kiddies, but alas no kiddies came to our door. Hence lots of little crunchie bars have been eaten. I am taking part in Halloween begrudgingly. It's an American thing, and I think the US needs to have less influence on the world rather than more. But far be it from me to deny the kiddies (or myself) chocolate.

I have been craving a lot more chocolate and sweet things while Ocsober has been on. Perhaps the pleasure centres in my brain need a tickle and if it isn't from wine, it needs to be from chocolate? Perhaps this is something I can work on..... only 13 days till I fly off to my health retreat in Koh Samui.

All of you who read my blog will know of my love for dogs. We have been dog-sitting a greyhound for a friend. Readers, I have fallen in love. Elvis the greyhound has stolen my heart. He started off a bit aloof, but now he takes his spot on the couch in between myself and my fella, usurping Bella. They play in the backyard and are adorable. #teambelvis . He is a handsome boy too, and always gets up to say hello when we wake up. Bella has started doing that with him - usually she only gives us a side-eye from the couch. #teambelvis follow each other around the house. It's too cute. I think we need to consider adopting a greyhound. They are, by all accounts, very good pets.

By way of update, we are going for our counselling appointment for IVF in December. It was delayed because the police check for my fella was delayed - he has a common name and shares a name and date of birth with many criminals....poor foresight from his parents, really.

Without going into too much detail, with the waits and delays for IVF, I seem to have lost my nerve regarding having a baby. My brain is stuck between the anticipation of the rigours of IVF and the anticipation of the rigours of parenting, hence I am led to wonder why I am bothering with any of it at all. It's an uncomfortable place, mentally. I have always imagined myself as a mum, and now I am, largely out of fear, questioning it.

I read somewhere (in a Fairfax publication, therefore true) that infertility was about as stressful as death of a loved one. I am not sure about that, but it certainly lends some validation to the mental discomfort I am feeling now. I am off to speak to my therapist about this. It's prudent.

And that is enough about that.

The things I can control, I am doing a reasonable job of doing. I have not developed a drinking problem, nor an eating problem. I am doing my exercise and doing my job well. I have discovered makeup primer and apply it diligently, as well as bronzer, because, even if I am not feeling bright I can look it. I am doing ok.
 
I love the dogs being around, they are legit the best.

The other thing I have done is sign up for a 10km fun run, the first I will have done in a couple of years. I want to get a PB (personal best time). My PB was set 5.5 years ago. I am 5.5 years older but I have accumulated a lot of mental toughness in that time. Time to unleash the beast. It's good for me to have a goal like this.


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Ocsober - the first 14 days.

Clearing away the alcohol has been an eye opener.

There is the commonly experienced realisation of how central alcohol is to our social life, and to winding down. To the weekend festivities.

For me, a vino at night has been taken to remove the edge from anxiety. Now, of course, I have to face it. Happily, I am. I can meet the dark scary places in my mind and quickly return from them.

A new insight, though, has been into my personality.

I had always considered myself an extrovert. I had been married to a strongly introverted person, and I suppose I needed to reach out frequently in order to get any socialising done!

Now, I am living with a strong extrovert. Without a social lubricant like alcohol, it brings out the fact that I am not as comfortable in groups of people, particularly those I don't know well,  as I thought I was.

I can be my charming, witty, engaging self for an hour. Two tops. It was probably like that when I had wine but it is very obvious now. I can hang with one or two members of my close tribe for longer, but any more than one or two and I retreat into my inner world early. It gets too much for me.

I think I am an ambivert. Explains a bit, actually. Think my partner knew this all along.


Also, I have learned that I can actually go out and eat dinner and not have alcohol and it is not that bad! Though we have probably been eating out less and that is a good thing.


In other news:
  • The last 10 days, 4 of my friends have announced their pregnancies. The past winter was chilly and I blame this. It's tough, but I rise up.
  • Am off to Bris this week for a conference. Hello not shit weather! Melbourne has not got the spring memo yet.
Where are you on the spectrum of introvert/extrovert?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Here is where I am at this very moment.

The good
  1. Hitting 2 x 45 kg push jerk at crossfit today. That's an overhead press for those of you playing at home.
  2. The free time I have now that I have jettisoned a couple of sessions, so that I can now catch up on my researchy things.
  3. That I have another job in the offing. It's temporary, but still.
  4. Another recent work addition. I have not lost my edge. The sharp mongrel is still there.
  5. I have a holiday to look forward to.
  6. I am still dreaming of a recent meal at Tahina in my 'hood (Israeli food) and some cake that a co-worker made. I know the word "moist" gives some people the heebie jeebies but this was a very apt descriptor for the chocolate banana cake I hoovered.
  7. I am obsessing over Nars cosmetics. That stuff is the shizz.
  8. My own sense of humour. Fuck I make myself laugh sometimes. 
  9. My dog, and all the other dogs in the neighbourhood. You guys rock.
The bad
  1. The second friend in a week announcing her pregnancy. It's kind of like a punch to the solar plexus.
  2. I feel a bit bad for leaving the job. They were nice people. However it was the right thing to do.
  3. I am missing wine. That sounds bad. I could have done with a vino this week. 
  4. I want to eat all the chocolate and all the chips too.
  5. I still have not submitted that paper. Some journals want things in minute detail but have such low word limits it precludes proper grammar or indeed the inclusion of the findings. Fuck.
  6. People who don't ring and cancel their appointments, nor do they return the call when the secretary calls to confirm.
The ugly
  1. Big zits. One just lateral to my left eyebrow. It's mainly covered up by hair when I wear my hair down. It's not at the squeezable stage but looks big and red and nasty and I fear it might explode and take my brain along with it.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Big steps

I have about 4 jobs. I've had a job for the last 5 months that I haven't liked. I have tried to like it but my enthusiasm finally ran out

I resigned it today.

There is another in the pipeline to replace it but they could only commit to it lasting 3 months.

I don't care. I got to the point where I dreaded pitching up to that workplace. I am lucky that I have the ability to do that, a lot of people have to stay stuck in jobs they hate.

While I felt a bit scared about resigning, my general feeling is good. I feel a bit of a weight off my shoulders.

Sometimes things have to change. My career will probably make a few twists and turns. I've just twisted and turned. Time to declutter.


I am doing ocsober. It's going ok. Alcohol was masking a bit of anxiety that I am now having to deal with, but I can do so with a clear head.

I have bought myself a pair of proper crossfit shoes.






They apparently help one do rope climbs. I want to be able to do a rope climb. I am ditching my box jump aspirations for a while. See, shaking things up.

I will do SSG's "things I like about myself" challenge, next post. Will have to have a think about it. Lots of bigness for today.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Heal thyself.

Part of being a good, productive adult, I feel, is having a good, honest appreciation of one's own strengths and weaknesses. In addition, it is important, as we get older, that we do not take our health for granted.

One thing I do very well is exercise. My eating habits fluctuate, but I think my partner and I eat out too much. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am partial to a glass or three of vino. Over the years, drinking wine has gone from something only at special occasions to something that is more of a routine thing. I rarely get drunk, nor do I drink wine every night. I do drink most nights of the week, and often to take the edge off a stressful day. I have often thought that I need to cut back, and I will give it a go, but it just goes back up to previous habits.

Hence, I have decided to give the vino a break for 4 weeks in October, in an initiative called Ocsober. You can sponsor me here. It will be tough but the more encouragement I get, the easier it will be. The money goes to a good cause - the Life Education Centre. Anyone remember Harold the Giraffe giving out life lessons in primary school?
From mamamia.com.au

I could have the excuse that there is a lot on my plate at the moment, and to do this is a bit too much, but hell, in for a penny, in for a pound. Also I need my brain and body to be in tip top shape.

In November, I have some leave coming up. I had thought about going to Costa Rica (no good - Zika and too far away), and also to the Cook Islands on a Crossfit retreat (no good - will clash with a conference I have on). I thought it might be a good time to do a health and fitness detoxy type retreat.

I've narrowed it down to 2 places:

1. Golden Door in the Hunter Valley - pros: less expensive, less far away cons: less exciting
2. Kamalaya in Koh Samui - Pros: more holiday-like, pampering, more exciting cons: more expensive

I am probably leaning more towards Kamalaya.

I went to Gwinganna a few years back. It was great but a bit hippy.

Anyone else been to a lifestyle retreat?

Any recs?

(I looked into Chiva Som but it is really spenny. Like, twice the amount of Kamalaya.)



Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Take-home messages

Whenever I go to a lecture or conference or anything where I have to learn, I very rarely write down anything.

Instead, I take one or two "take-home" points. Things that were salient and that I will remember. Otherwise it's bits of paper which I will never look at again.

I went to see the IVF doctor again, the review visit.

My IVF doctor is a specialist handpicked by me. He is one of Australia's most experienced IVF specialists and is well into his 70s. He is Scottish and he has a dry, irreverent sense of humour and kindly grandfatherly type nature. He also took the government to court so that single women or women in same sex relationships could access IVF. He won.

I had all the tests. They were fine. My pelvis is in good configuration. My partner and I are pumping out gametes like champions. I could literally have had tens of biochemical pregnancies, plus one I actually knew about.

However, my kindly Scottish specialist told me something very sobering today, nothing that is particularly emphasised in any of the lay literature, and nothing that rings a bell from what I was taught back at uni.

He said that, at my age, on average, about 90% of my ova are aneuploid, compared with maybe 40 or 50% (or maybe 30? I can't remember what he said) at age 25. That means that, as a result of my age, I am pumping out faulty eggs with abnormal chromosomes. They are not worth the paper they are written on. I don't mean that in a perjorative way, it's just the way it is. They are doomed to fail and not result in a take home bundle of joy. There are plenty of women over 35 who have babies, but there is a mix of luck and maybe having a few more "good eggs".

I wondered, with all my bits and his bits being good, what IVF would actually circumvent, and make a baby more likely? After all, IVF is invasive, expensive and potentially risky.

Essentially, what they would do in the process would be to check the embryos, and implant only the good ones that had the best shot of sticking and resulting in a pink squalling bundle after 38 weeks. It's a bit more complex than that, and I've done more than a cursory search of google scholar and medline to gain some idea of the ins and outs, but that's basically it.

This discussion put everything into clear relief. All other things being equal (ie no major medical illness or diseases of the reproductive tract), egg quality is the determining factor. The determining factor of this is maternal age. People say that all the time, but it really hit home today.

Would it have been better if I had the baby with my Ex at 31, when my eggs would have been happier? No. It's not helpful to think of the "what ifs". A good relationship needs to come before the baby, I have always firmly believed that.

Applying the retrospectoscope, if I had the clearheadedness in the setting of the dissolution of a marriage, I would have had my eggs frozen. There is a bit of a push for this by the IVF people, but I feel probably not enough. But for me, it's a moot point.

What would I say to a professional female in their late 20s or early 30s who is single but might like to have children sometime in the future? Freeze yo' eggs. It's expensive but probably less expensive than repeated cycles of IVF with aged eggs, and the resulting mindfuck that can ensue.

So I have a plan. It's onward with the IVF. We have to go through the counselling, police checks, parting with cash, et cetera. It's just a case of when. Soon.

I am really keen to see a friend in Costa Rica and doing some ziplining and some surfing and looking into the crater of a volcano. Also some Crossfit WODs (she is my Crossfit friend who was doing a PhD in Melbourne and went to my Xfit box). The desire to go to CR is mostly reflecting a desire to escape some stressors.

Costa Rica is not really a place I want to go while undergoing IVF. My last hurrah pre IVF perhaps? The other take-home I got from the consult today was that, if IVF will be successful, it is most likely to occur within the first three goes. So hopefully the rigours of IVF will be short before the rigours of pregnancy supervene. I had my head around laying the groundwork later this year, and  getting the hormone shots rolling in the new year.

In other news:
  • am meant to be doing a healthy eating clean living challenge with my gym. It's really hard. A bit of comfort eating may have done the trick when I was climbing the walls last night. Not all comfort eating is bad.
  • I have a better idea of what I want to do when I grow up (ie career goals). 
  • I think, more than ever before, I am appreciating having siblings. They warm my heart, increasingly.
 Sooo....IVF.....Costa Rica..... comfort eating..... a true miscellany.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Hangin' tough.


For your delectation, a 1990s earworm. Any lapsed NKOTB fans out there?

It's been a tough day.

Very challenging work morning.

A lunch break at the local shopping centre. It was pregnant woman and little baby hour at the food court. They were errrrrywhere. I ate my lunch staring at a shop sign.

I went to my PM session. The dramas of the morning wiggled their way via phone and email into my afternoon work.

The infertility (I use that word legitimately now, it's been over 12 months) is taking its toll. Work has unique challenges. Many many sighs are sighed. Tears prick my eyes but are often bit back.

My saviours are my partner, my dog and crossfit. And my crossfit ladies. And youse. And Offspring. And Offspring debriefs with my cuzzy on facebook. And the Bachelor and debriefs in real time on facebook with the funny ladies who follow blogger Far Kew.

Actually that's quite a lot of things to smile about.


Yes, I am watching the Bachelor. I know. I blame my fragile state and soft brain.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A summary

For those of you who don't get my stream of consciousness on facebook (or inside my brain), here is a summary about what is going on in life recently.

  • I went to Bali. Bali was fricking awesome. I don't know why I've never been to Bali, perhaps I was a slave to my hipster pretension. The Bogans are mainly on the plane and go to Legian or Kuta. That is not Bali. Great weather, great range of accommodation, beauty spas galore, shopping, nice beaches, great weather, mind-blowing food and the Balinese - it's all going on. It was so good we are going for Christmas. Because all of those who've been reading the blog for a while know of my deep seated ambivalence towards Christmas. 
  • My paper with proceeds from my PhD was rejected by a big journal but is under review by another big one. It takes aaaages and kind of does my head in. I find myself thinking "hurry up and reject it if you are going to reject it". But that won't help.
  • The extra sessions I got are not what I expected. I have been tossing up whether to resign, having never resigned a job in my life. What I have decided upon after much consideration is to find out what I am meant to be doing (tick...kind of), do my best at it, get some publications, make the best of it, and apply elsewhere in the interim. The money is good....
  • .....as we are now looking at IVF. The week before I was due for my IVF appointment I was 6 days late. 6 DAYS LATE. Lady rage ensued. I grit my teeth and proceed. There is a lot in the papers about IVF, whether it should be medicare funded for women past a certain age. Essentially it is a new, higher level of buy-in for my partner and I, with much more hope and resources attached to the outcome. The efficacy (in terms of take-home bundle) seems a bit worrying. Still, we proceed. Can't throw the baby out with the bath water HAAAAAAA
  • Crossfit is my mental saviour. I still don't have a full 20 inch box jump or a pull up, but I am getting more confident with jumping on things. I am getting stronger. We have a new coach who gets us (me) to reach deeper into ourselves to do our best, and I respond well to it.
I am plodding along OK. I find my patience challenged but I can wake up the next day and feel better. I have a lot to be grateful for.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Bachelor. Box jumps.

I know I said I wasn't gonna post but I just feel the need to debrief/download here.

The Bachelor is coming on telly.

I am angry.

Firstly because it is cutting into Offspring time. Yes I know Offspring *may* have jumped the shark, but it is still holy to me. Nina's outfits are on point this season. There is the hot dude from The Beautiful Lie coming on tonight, with a cameo from HRH Waleed Aly. THEY CAN'T DO THIS.

Mainly because the premise of The Bachelor is just wrong.

Beautiful women who mainly look a certain way. None above a size 10. Most caucasian. All with long hair. Intelligent enough but not enough to be threatening.

All throwing themselves at a guy who, while handsome, seems a little dull. With seemingly no regard for whether they actually are interested in Bachie. There was one lady in NZ bachelor who refused a rose. Respect.

In this day and age, we should be teaching young women that they don't have to throw themselves at a fella, that their desires matter, that they don't have to look a certain way in a frock, that they don't have to go for a guy just because the guy shows an interest. They have to be "cool" with throwing themselves off a plane or the fact he is pashing other girls.

There is so much wrong with it that I literally can't even.


Anyway, with regard to box jumps, they are coming along

We have a coach that says that my attitude towards them is all wrong.
I am making too big a thing of them, and have a learned fear of them. I can jump the height fine (over a stick put on top of the box) , but not on the box.

What I need to do is deal with them with the same confidence that I approach a deadlift. A "yep, I got this" approach. Then they won't be a big deal.

To use a bachelor analogy, I am trying too hard to impress Richie (Richie is the box). I have to be cool, or Richie (the box) won't respect me.



Monday, 25 July 2016

On a go slow.

I love reading all of the blogs on this blogroll, and lots of others besides.

I continue to have lots of thoughts, but none of them compel me to blog in a way that I feel is both true to myself and readable to people, with content that I feel comfortable sharing.

So I will be taking a break for the moment.

From a mental health point of view, it is taking a bit of effort to keep that on track. CrossFit is the thing that is most helpful in this regard. Perhaps I might start a blog focussing on that. Or change the thrust of this blog. I don't know, but I will be around, on social media and on your blogs.

have a great day, and stay warm

C xx

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

My happy place.

It is frigid in Melbourne at the moment. Bone-chilling, squeal and pant when you step outside, frickin freezing.

I have some planned sojourns to warmer climes, Sydney this coming weekend, Bali next month. However, I have a friend who lives in Costa Rica. I want to go to Costa Rica. Officially, they have Zika there, a no-go for anyone wanting to get pregnant, but the real deal there is Chikungunya.

But no, there will be no Costa Rica. Not at the moment anyway.

It's cold and it's dark. A few things are niggling, in my life. The new job has some rather challenging aspects, without going into it too much. While I am not overtly stressed, and I have much to feel grateful for, I am feeling a bit seasonal-affective-disorder-y. A bit "fuck this shit, I'm going to Costa Rica".

It's good to find the happy places in our lives. For me, it is the places we can be ourselves. I have spent a lot of my life feeling uncomfortable, wondering how I was being received, not being comfortable to be myself. I have worked on that, but also surrounded myself with people who I feel comfortable with. Unfortunately that is not always possible.

People who are not me may find this next bit boring, but one of the places I feel free to be myself is the crossfit gym. It is the only place I happily leave bed for, early in the morning, in the cold.

I am surrounded by inspiring people, who share many of the same quirks I have. I can sweat, grunt, swear, fart (heavy lifting, don't judge me) and just push myself, be my best self and be encouraged for that. And afterwards I often go out for excellent coffee (and often an avocado/banana/cacao hipster smoothie) with some of the epic ladies I work out with.

At the moment, it's my happy place. With that at the start of the day, I can manage the cold, the drudgery, the facepalm moments, the discombobulation, and the urges to bugger off to Costa Rica.

Oh yeah- we recently had a competition. I came nearly last. However there was an award for the people who put in the most effort - the "becoming the bull" award (our gym is called Charge as in Charge like a Bull).

I won the lady one!


 Where is your happy place?

Monday, 27 June 2016

My tribe. The shred

There are a lot of things that are changing about me as I get older. I am more confident. I care less about what people think.... generally. I am far less inclined to tolerate things that cause me grief. These are good things.

My take on friendships has changed accordingly.

I used to chase friendships. I would often spend a lot more time and effort pursuing a friendship than the other party, and feel frustrated and resentful afterwards. I questioned my own value. I would constantly fear saying the wrong thing, and if a friend disagreed with me I would feel anxious about losing their friendship, and over-compensate.

When somebody continually says "oh we must catch up", but complains of how very busy they are, and rejects reasonable attempts at making a date, I will state "Ok, I will leave it with you", and quietly walk away. I appreciate things can get busy, but when there are no meaningful interactions, there can be no meaningful relationship. I don't burn the bridge, but walk away from the creek, toward other things.

Similarly, I have learned that good relationships are generally the ones that enrich you. Bring forth your best.

I have friendships that mainly exist via text messages that brighten my day.

I have a bunch of girlfriends that I see every couple of years. They are school friends. I grew up with them and knew them since I was four. Every time I see them, I feel no time as passed. We make very crude jokes, and laugh till we wet ourselves.

I have my tribe at the Crossfit box. I get along well with most people there and have a good chat. There is a small bunch of girls that I sweat with, then go for coffee with, and sometimes we go for dinner. Seeing this bunch has been very important to me recently, with various stressors.

I have a male friend who I met on RSVP back in the day. The romantic chemistry was not there but we became firm friends. We have seen each other through dating and relationship fails.

I feel good with these people. Un-self-conscious. Invigorated. Useful.

I know that, with various changes in circumstances, people will come in and out of my life. I hope that, with each major life event, and the social situation that entails, I will find my tribe.

~~~~~~~~~

I have been really looking after my health, going for my "pre-baby body". At the age of >35, all the ducks have to be in line, physically. I have been doing a bit of a "shred" (I hate the word diet). I won't go into detail about what I have been doing, but rest assured, it's been safe. I have a break over the weekends, eat what I like, within reason. It has been boring at times, but it has been working. I have found that a motivator like this, as opposed to say the size of my jeans, has been a powerful one.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Minor acts of aggression.

I have ummed and ahhed about whether to write this post, but here 'tis.

I have started a new job. I have been enjoying it, but have been finding it hard to switch off. I will learn. I will try to stay away from the vino and instead leave all the angst on the rubberised floor at my crossfit box, when I unleash the beast. Which I did this morning.

I had gotten to a place in my career where I felt liked, respected and secure. I had assumed that would continue at this current workplace, but that has been shaken in the last week. I have been feeling decidedly insecure.

Some of that is normal, different workplaces have different pecking orders, different people. It takes a bit of feeling about and testing the waters. A colleague who put me up for the job has been super supportive, and most people have been. It's also weird coming back as a senior, when you were junior to many of the people who are now theoretically your equal in the ranks.

There have been a couple of incidents this week, at the new role, which have rattled me a bit, and I will share with you.
 
I was just about to deliver a presentation at a meeting, very early on Tuesday morning. I greeted some a couple of my old consultants, male and now very close to retiring. I introduced myself, saying that I was their intern all those years ago.

Old boss #1 looks blank.

Old boss #2 muttered something to him which sounded very much like "oh, you just don't recognise her with her clothes on".

That last comment only sunk in a couple of days after. I gave my presentation like a professional.

A couple of days later, I was at a meeting with a few people whose roles are similar to mine. One of the people there was a person who, in my single days, I had been on a couple of dates with. It went nowhere, amicably.

He started with a long monologue, about how, in this new role, I had to listen much and talk less. We entered some general discussion. I suggested a role for my specialty in assessments. He said that we weren't up to it. I shot him a bit of a filthy look. He said "calm down Cilla" in front of everybody. A couple of minutes later, he said "sorry for insulting you". He then told me how I had to go ahead with some research I was doing, and who I had to involve, et cetera.

Both times, I wondered what I had done, and how I should act differently to make sure I don't feel uncomfortable.

I have come around, somewhat reluctantly, to the fact that I did not deserve to be treated that way. It's not cool.

I wish I could respond, swiftly and professionally, to such instances. Perhaps by asking people if they would like to repeat what they said. However, I would be the one to look out of order, such was the subtlety of the interaction.

I need to not let things get me down, to "chuck it in the fuck-it bucket". However I would like not to be put in the situation where I do feel belittled like this.


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

IVF and a new world order.

Howdy.

Some of you will have watched 4 Corners on Aunty last night. It was an "expose" on the "IVF industry".

Something that was of interest to me.

I am nearly a year down the track from my Miscarriage. My assumption was that, given that I got pregnant quickly and without trying too hard, I would get pregnant quickly without trying too hard again.

Unfortunately this was not to be, and I am heading to the doctor tomorrow to follow through on the conception plan b. It's with a bit of a tail between my legs. I feel a bit like I have failed. I had put quite a lot of stock on getting pregnant the old fashioned way. IVF scares me and it has taken some time to get my head around it - the being pumped full of hormones, the ovaries swelling, the freezing of embryos. A potential for long-term effects to myself and my offspring.

I don't like the idea, really. I want a baby but I am scared of having IVF. I am growing a pair and getting thee to a doc, and I will see what they say, and what happens. I am trying, despite my fears, to keep an open mind and my eyes on the positives.

Back to the program. It was one-sided, and focussed on the negatives associated with IVF. It bought in experts who were instrumental in the development of IVF, who now disassociate themselves from current IVF practices, which they feel are corporatised and focussed on profit rather than using the technology in a prudent manner. They featured a head of an IVF company, who was bumbling. The program suggested that IVF practices were predatory towards vulnerable women, continuing with IVF cycles when the chances of success were infinitesimally small.

It featured Gab Kovacs, who is a prominent IVF doctor. He has been on record previously saying that women need to just settle down, not be so picky, and get pregnant earlier. On the program, he said that "embryos are like mud, you throw enough of them and one will stick". He also said that he could not refuse a woman IVF if she wanted it.

Putting the doctor hat on, I object to that analogy of mud being flung at the wall - it's not nearly as simple as that. IVF is medical treatment, and the law states that people cannot demand medical treatment that is futile or unduly burdensome.

Melinda Tankard Reist was also on, and though I don't like the woman, I agreed with some of the points she made.

There are plenty of very desperate women and couples out there - some of this desperation is being taken advantage of.

The only thing that the program will change for me is that I will go in and ask for an honest appraisal of what my chances are, and how they might dwindle with increasing numbers of  cycles. I would also prefer to see a female IVF specialist. Just because. I have had a good chat with my fella about the issues the show raised.

The program gave me some more general pause for thought. It occurred to me that I could have stayed in my previous marriage, and my chances of having a baby would have been much higher. I don't regret leaving, not for one second. I am happy, in retrospect, to have worn that risk.

There is a lot of pressure on women to "settle", with the "tick tock". Yet, for a professional woman, having a baby is done at a financial cost, mainly to the woman, in terms of career and superannuation. Many women are happy to make that compromise, yet increasing numbers are not. They do not necessarily stay in relationships to have babies, just like me.

These women are demonised as being selfish, and are warned about having sad, lonely, unfulfilling lives, but the research states quite the opposite. The real consequence is to society - birth rates are going down. It will lead to demographic consequences, with fewer future taxpayers being born.

Hence, for all Tony Abbott's gaffes, his one about helping women of calibre have babies has some merit. Unless women are encouraged to have children at a time when it is safest for them and baby (ie under 35) without their finances or career being compromised, birth rates will not increase. In this way, we as women have the power.

I want a baby, I really do. So does my partner. It is, by all accounts, a beautiful experience, perhaps made even more beautiful when your eyes are wide open, and the changes are accepted in advance.

It's also freeing that, if it all proves too hard, and it is not to be, I, and we, will be ok.




Sunday, 29 May 2016

Spent.

I often work on the weekends - writing PhDs, papers, ethics submissions, et cetera. I still do plenty of other things, and get a sleep - in.

This weekend, I actually went into work! Like actual work where my workwear game must be up to scratch, I must be there at 0800, and I must be able to make sentences which make sense. Both days!

It was something a bit different to what I usually do, and it was fun and challenging, but gosh I am tired after it all, and I have had to nap.

Melbourne has been thrust well and truly into winter, with very chilly mornings and a bit of rain. Winter means boots and stockings and socks, and also Masterchef.

We are getting teasers of my beloved Offspring. I do hope it hasn't jumped the shark. I hope that Leo and Nina are still together, but I get the feeling from the ads that this will not be the case. I would love to see Nina getting settled and maybe getting preggers again, and I can't wait to see Zoe.

It has just struck me how invested I am in the show, like I am talking about my friends. I think that was the case for a lot of people.

In addition to having to work, my exercise at the holy church of crossfit has been a bit waylaid by popping my back out last Monday. I have decided to go and do some clinical Pilates. I have exercise goals which I think will be improved by having a good core. Also, it has worked in the past for staving off back pain, from which I suffer on and off.

How was your weekend?
Anything exciting this week?

Monday, 16 May 2016

Falling into the flow.

I have gone back to work, done loads and loads of washing, gotten back into the timezone and generally back into the swing of things. The acute post-holiday blues have settled. I start my new job tomorrow.

I have a new haircut. I was talking with a female professor of medicine, and out of the blue, she told me that I had a lovely face and that I needed a hairdo that would frame it. Granted my hair was in travel mode (ie lank and greasy) but I was a bit taken aback. I had a love-hate relationship with my long hair - it was always a belief I had, unchallenged, that "curvy girls should have long hair".

Anyway I took the professor's comment in the manner in which it was given; rather than saying "rude bugger" I considered and thought she might have a point. So I did some research with the committee (ie my female facebook friends) and found a good hairdresser, Barberella on Gertrude street. I did the old "do what you like but not this and this and this and this and also please don't make my face look fat". She was very good and attentive and I was very happy with the result, I have a lovely face-framing bob, which is super-feminine and sharp but classic.

This whole theme of taking things in my stride loomed large today. There have been lots of murmurings within one of my workplaces about lack of funds. Today, I had the meeting with the new director and the Prof Emeritus. I actually offered to "quit" for the time being, to concentrate on writing my papers. I figured that, if I had to go, I would go on my terms. Also it would free me from a few pressures and free me up to do more profitable work.

Long story short, the Prof Emeritus would not hear of me stepping aside. He asked me to stay on, but do fewer sessions. I agreed. It still frees me up to do something that pays better, but my role is intact. So essentially I weathered a cull gracefully. It could've been upsetting but it really wasn't. I realised it was great that I have options that few others have, so that this kind of thing isn't a big deal.

It's that working hard at the art of not giving a single fuck. To appreciate the pros and cons of each situation, and embrace whatever happens. At the moment, I am winning at adulting.

In general crossfit news, I can feel the attainment of a box-jump in my waters.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Hells yeah, America. Learnings

Howdy from LAX, the most shit airport in the first world! I am at the end of my trip. Despite it being a conference trip, it has been a great one, relaxing and fun. I had a conference both in Philadelphia (more a research based one) and DC - the American College of Physicians meeting.

It was my second visit to Philly and DC, my first visit being 10 years ago to the month, pretty much. Funnily, I don't remember much from that trip, though I took lots of photos. Hence, rather than taking photos, I took notice. Walking, meandering, people watching. And conferencing.

Philadelphia, or the city of brotherly love (Phile - love, adelphi - sharing the same womb...in Greek), is, according to Wikipedia, the 5th largest city by population in the US. It is a 2 hour train ride North-East of DC. It has a feel which is very similar to Melbourne - though there is a Starbucks everywhere, there are a great deal of independent shops. Also, the weather is very changeable. Like 28 degrees on one day and 11 degrees another. DC is similar.

I did some of the touristy things in Philly, like visiting the Magic Garden, and ascending the Rocky steps to the Philadelphia museum of art. The PMA has a great collection of French Impressionist artwork which is worth a squizz, if you go there. In my spare time, I mainly just meandered, people watched. One of the days I meandered to the tune of 30000 steps; I've just bought a fitbit blaze and am getting use out of it.. There are plenty of murals to look at in the streets.

I was alone in  Philly. I usually travel alone and quite like it. I met my colleagues for the ACP meeting in DC, and was a bit worried that it would be stifling. I need not have worried, they are great people to travel with. They are easygoing, enthusiastic and like many of the same things I do, those being travel, shopping and eating. My boss was one of the people on the trip, and she had organised the trip down to the hour, and arranged us some things to do.

One of these things was a bike riding tour of the national mall. I had seen many of the sites, but not all, in my previous trip. Two of the more moving monuments were those to Martin Luther King and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Being an avid researcher, I looked up these gentlemen on Wikipedia, both great men, and changing the USA for the better. Mostly, it was just great to get a hint of sunshine and bond with my friends/colleagues.

The other great thing we did was go to a show called Capitol Steps. If you go to DC, it is worth a look. They do brilliant Political Satire, and don't spare either end of the political spectrum. Bernie, Trump and Hillary (as well as Barry, Dubya and Vladimir) got a skewering.

We ate and drank like queens, sampling some great American / Soul food, as well as a restaurant which was a fusion of Asian and Peruvian. We ate sparsely and walked liberally during the day, but went hard at night.

A professor once told us "never let your study get in the way of your education". In addition to some great medical facts, I learned, or had reinforced, some of the following - both in conference and general travel aspects:

1. How to show respect to members of the LGBTI community, and manage their medical issues appropriately.

In the ACP meeting, where there were 7000 delegates and hundreds of parallel sessions, there was one on health care for a person from the LGBTI community. It included things like keeping greetings gender neutral (ie instead of "good morning, Sir", just "good morning" is fine). How getting transgender men to have pap smears and breast examinations can be a challenge ("if you have it, check it). The staggeringly high rates of HIV in certain sections - up to 50% in some cultural groups of gay men.

2. No matter what your religious, social or political allegiance is, some things are dear to everybody's heart.

I love a good heart to heart with a person I've just met. I met a few American women of my own age, and had a good chinwag with them. One or two of them were politically conservative, pro military, religious and did not even cringe when Trump's name was mentioned, but we still managed to see eye to eye on a few things. Here was the opportunity to listen and not shoot my mouth off. Always good to practice. Differing views are interesting, if nothing else.

I agreed with them that veterans of past/current wars should be looked after, and certainly not be homeless. But I questioned the need for young men to be sent to more wars in foreign lands. They conceded agreement.

There are issues common to us all. The whole biological clock thing.....plus or minus the finding the appropriate partner to procreate with. And utual admiration of shoes/hair/eye makeup. I have been introduced to the wonders of Chanel Fantasme eyeshadow. Sah sparkly!

3. The USA is trying to find it's place in the new world order.

I went to the museum of American History. I have been there before but needed a refresher on it, as I find history very interesting. America's history is punctuated by wars. I learned about the war of independence/ revolution and the war of 1812 - as the White House was being burned down by the Brits, there came the inspiration for the lyrics of "Star Spangled Banner". Four score and seven years after independence, the civil war. Where the US established itself as a world power was WW1 and 2, particularly the latter. They were reluctant to enter into WW2 but their hand was forced after Pearl Harbor. They produced munitions, sent men and just generally went hard, looking like the hero in the process. Returning soldiers were sent to university and made babies with their wives. Korea was yet another battle. Things started going downhill, I realised, during the Vietnam War. That was politically very dicey, with many opposed to it.

There was the arms race with Russia, which cooled after the fall of the Soviet bloc. 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have put the US under severe pressure for many reasons. They are no longer the hero or the saviour, nor are they the most powerful country in the world, with the rise of the BRICS countries. 

I realised that, with unemployment a major issue in the US, in some parts more than others, the war and the military is a major employer for the US. This is one of the many problems. The middle class is dwindling. The world appreciates that this former superpower cannot employ its people or provide them with healthcare, and judges accordingly. The world questions the US's interests. In my opinion, the US is trying to find it's way in the new world. Hence some of the potential leaders wedging things. 

Anyway enough about that.

4. Doesn't matter how interesting the topic of a conference talk is, the speaker has to be good or nothing will be absorbed. 

This is fairly self-explanatory. 

5. It's good to schmooze

I made a special effort at both conferences, particularly the first more research based conference, to meet people, say hello, state my business. Mostly I met nice people. Sometimes I met important people who gave me good advice. I made myself known, pressed the flesh, collected business cards and email addresses. These will come in handy.

6. I am barking up the right tree, research wise.

It is always a bit of a fangirl moment to meet a researcher whose work you have referenced extensively in your PhD. It's even better when their thoughts on the research topic are similar to yours. Better still when they are doing a pilot study on something you have done and are about to publish (HAAAA I BEAT YOU! I nearly said, but didn't.)

7. Americans are very polite

I had a cold, my first in 18 months, during this trip. I was sneezy as hell. Without fail, every time I sneezed in public, I would get a "bless you". Isn't that charming?



Things bought:
  • pair of new balance casual sneakers, which were featured on my instagram account
  • new handbag. Cole Haan. On sale,  no less. I had thought about buying myself a Balenciaga City handbag as a gift to myself for completing my PhD, but I just cannot bring myself to part with 2K for a handbag. I just cannot. So functional Cole Haan it is.
  • A dress from Anthropologie
  • Rain jacket from Nordstrom Rack. BCBGeneration. Not ugly. 
  • Some unintentional shoes - nice Italian boots. Like 75% off. Very sweet. Cost per wear will be low.
  • Chanel mascara. 
  • Pills, lotions and potions from the chemist.
  • Assorted other small things.
Positively restrained, I feel

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Wins.

Happy hump day folks.

As I have alluded to, I have been angling for some extra sessions at work. There is a job that went out, and has been a bit slow to come to fruition (ie interviews etc). The reason for this is that there has been some upheaval in the unit, and they have not been able to delineate the roles.

Anyway, long story short, I told the team that I was going away for 2 weeks, and did they want to interview me before I left. They did, and applauded my persistence. They offered me the job, and I said yes. This was yesterday.

I hope I don't have to push them to get my paperwork done..the thing I am most looking forward to is the pay!

Yesterday, I also gave a lecture to a health sciences school at a different university. The seminar was full, lots of bums on seats; even the Dean attended. I don't know whether it will come to anything but good to have it done and dusted, and that it went off successfully and was enjoyed.

I am nearly finished a second draft of my paper. I am culling words like a skilled surgeon. 

Warning Crossfit things ahead! 

Every week, our Box releases a WOD (workout of the day) as a spotlight of one member. On Monday, I had my member spotlight. Here it is. So exciting. It was enjoyed (cursed) by many.

It's been 1RM (one rep-max) week at crossfit. A one-rep max is the heaviest weight of a particular lift you can perform once. Unfortunately for the lifts I have done, I have not been able to meet my previous PB (personal best). I think it is because I have been training pretty hard, and am potentially a bit tired. Though I am hoping to exceed 82.5kg for my deadlift this week.

In box jump news, that is progressing. I am better at jumping over rather than jumping on. Today I put a PVC bar on top of a 20 inch box, so the end was hanging off. Hence if I missed I would just knock over a very light bar. I am now glad to say that my jump is over 20 inches (21.5 including the bar). I am getting springy, people!

Ok Crossfit stuff over.

Sunday was a bit of an off day. Long time readers might know about the epic PMS I suffer.
We were out to brekky on Sunday morning, at a cafe. I was feeling a bit fragile (might've been some red wine I drank). We were sat out the front with the dog.

Two Audi 4WDs, one black, one white, rolled up and parked. From out of the black Audi a young woman and her man emerge. They pluck a little baby from his carseat out the back, and a bugaboo or other prestige stroller from the boot. They greet the couple from the white Audi. The mum strokes the pregnant belly of White Audi lady, whose hair is long and groomed in hair-straightener curls.

I promptly silently burst into tears, and dripped snot and tears into my breakfast eggs, rendering them inedible. I was not that hungry anyway. I was in a funk for the rest of the day. I have had enough emotionally shitty days to know that it's often just a day, and it's about muddling through. So even though I felt shit, I got shit done. I did stuff up until it was time to go to bed.

Happy rest of the week, folks.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Can't do light.

I have lost a bit of my blogging mojo, friends.

I have no problem reading blogs, and writing comments as intelligent and encouraging as I can muster, but I have had trouble writing a post. I wrote a post a week or so ago, but decided to take it down soon after, as it wasn't something I was very comfortable sharing.

Perhaps trying to write this paper I am working on, and writing a lecture, is draining me of further creativity.

I love reading the blogs of all of those people, like SSG, or Naomi, or FF, who make the ordinary come alive within a blog.

I even thought about writing about some beauty purchases I made. I like them, but I just can't bring myself to write anything more than that. "yep, 'sgood!" I will buy on the recommendations of SSG. I am a sheep, not a shepherd!

[Apropos of nothing, I bought some Clarins ever matte foundation, the L'Oreal nude palette, and made an online purchase of a Le Labo fragrance. I may or may not post about the Le Labo experience]

Don't get me wrong, the ordinary comes alive in my head, I am all for seizing the moment and relishing the small things, but it just doesn't come out in this forum.

I tend to write about things I am passionate about. Lately that has been Crossfit. I realise that is probably only interesting to me. Whatevs. I also like a bit of a rant about what is wrong with the world, but it's really a case of literally can't even.

I was going to write about the little baby that went missing in Melbourne, and was found dead. I had my doubts about the story in the media, and, sure enough, those doubts proved prescient. Yet saying "I knew it" is a bit silly. I can join in with the chorus that it is a waste of a dear, tiny life, but that's already been said too. It is devastating.

Yet what strikes me about it all is how much older than 22 the mother looks, like she has had many years worth of burden. Also the lack of baying for her blood - baying would not help the situation anyway. I have heard quietly understanding things being said, that motherhood can bring you to the very edge of, and possibly past, your grip on sanity. These things have been said by mothers, sotto voce. It is comforting in a way that this kind compassion exists in the context of such a tragedy.

That's all I am going to say about that.

I am now going to launch into something that I excel at, a miscellany.

I have been hunting for a good hotel room in DC, where I am off to soon, for a conference. Most of the bookings have free cancellation, and I have had a hotel booked for a while. However, I only had this hotel close to the conference centre for 6 of the 8 nights I was staying, also the price was steep for not a great place. More recently, I have been doing some research, reading hotel reviews, and scoping out the other hotels close by. Finally, I got onto Wotif, and took a punt on a mystery deal. First I booked for the 4 nights of the conference. The price was steep, but a lot cheaper than the open deals. After booking I found out the hotel - it was the one I wanted. I made a separate booking for the 4 nights prior to the conference. The mystery hotel had the same description as the previous, but was just over half the price for those four nights - sure enough, I found it was the same hotel. I rang the hotel to ask if I could stay in the same room for the 8 nights. Hence, now I am staying in a better hotel than the previous, paying less for 8 nights than I was about to for 6! Only catch is that it isn't refundable. Winning!

I have also scoped out crossfit boxes for while I am on leave, I get to meet my WODding bretheren from the US.



Tragedy, hotels, a bit of cosmetics. Crossfit, of course, was there.

A miscellany indeed.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Stuff(ed with chocolate).

A bit of a miscellany for today.

It's been a bit of a slow weekend, people. I haven't done much, which is good. I have no work things to do - all the bits and pieces I have had to write are being reviewed, so my hands are tied. I am happy with a bit of stillness - I used to feel bad for having a break and having not much to do. It's good to have a breather. April will be a busy month with one thing or another. I am off to 'Murica for a couple of weeks on Anzac day, conferencing. Also I have found some crossfit boxes to go to!

I have caught up on House of Cards, having binge-watched all of series 3. Frank Underwood is at his most diabolical and loathsome, and I find myself wanting Heather Dunbar to be POTUS. Claire remains strong and gracious and diabolical and divine - though she can be manipulative, I find myself liking her more as I watch. That Doug Stamper is just a scary bastard, as determined as Frank and Claire.

My mum came around for lunch yesterday, it was her birthday, and a year since I lost my shit at her dinner when my sister announced her pregnancy. Doesn't time fly? I covered myself in culinary glory with a slow roasted lamb shoulder and crispy roast spuds and home made mint sauce. Though I sometimes find myself at a loss for what to talk about with her, I can fill the conversation void with a bit of nice food.

My brother also came around, late as he had been out on the turps the previous night. He has just broken up with his GF of 9 years. He was ok. The relationship went on about 3 years longer than it ought to have - it was plain that neither of their hearts were in it for some time. I think they kept it going out of expectation, his ex GF is from a traditional Greek family and the expectation was that they were going to get married. The family took a while to embrace my brother, being skippy and all, and once he was embraced, it had to go all the way. I also think neither of them wanted to be the "bad guy" to end it. It really came to a head when she moved up to Sydney without him, and seemed reluctant for him to move up there, with lots of delaying tactics.

I wish the best for her, she was part of the family for a long while. I hope they both take time to cool their heels (and sheets) and work out what they want out of life and a relationship. They have spent the vast majority of their adult lives enmeshed. It takes a while to find out who you are.

I had best move on. Shopping to do, meals to plan, washing to fold.

I hope you have had a pleasant weekend.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Open workout 16.5 - the end.

Today I completed the last workout of my first Crossfit open.

I was quite pumped, as there was very little that I could not manage.

However, if you ask any crossfitter what their least favourite exercises are, the two most common answers would be thrusters and burpees.

So finding out the workout on Friday really wiped the smile off my face

21-18-15-12-9-6-3

Thrusters (20kg)
Burpees.

So do 21 thrusters, then 21 bar facing burpees, jumping over the bar,
then 18 and 18, and so on.
That's 84 of each exercise. 164 reps in total.

To give you an idea of what the exercises entail, see below:


Here are thrusters



And here are bar-facing burpees




Just to clarify, I did not do them nearly as quickly as this guy. I had to do a few steps to get up to the bar. But that's the gist.

Crossfit workouts are often both physically and mentally challenging, and this is what I like about them. For a normal crossfit day, I will check the workout the night before, psychologically prepare, and think up modifications. However, in the open, no such modifications are possible, everybody does the same.

However, no modifications are possible in the open workouts, and you have to do them exactly as prescribed - this is the "scaled" version, the Rx version for women was 29kg on the bar.

For the first time, I had a freak-out. I even contemplated not going and doing the workout. A few things were running through my head.

  • It's going to take Foreverrrrrrr and people will be watching and I will be embarrassed.
  • I will fall over and break my ankle jumping over the bar (often workouts prescribe jumping over a bar, and I don't do them out of this fear - I have a real ankle phobia after twisting mine a couple of times)
  • I will hurt myself
  • The workout will hurt.
However, despite my misgivings, I went in.  I went first. I was scored by one of the coaches.

It did hurt, and I did feel weak at times. I broke it up into chunks (ie 4 thrusters then rest). The burpees were super slow but I kept moving.

I did finish last. Everyone who finished came to cheer me on. They gave me a countdown to lift the bar up, so I didn't rest too long. When pausing to start the burpees, they yelled "get down" so I didn't rest too long. When I wanted to take a rest while I was face down at the bottom of a burpee they yelled "get up". They also yelled "you are doing so well" and "you are looking strong".

Finally it finished, and I got a big round of applause. I threw myself down on the floor and caught my breath. In fact, pretty much everyone who completed the WOD did that. It was difficult for everyone.

It's going to sound a bit twee, but I was proud of myself. I fought off the fears and excuses, which I have used frequently in the past. I often avoid movements or reps because I think I am too fat, too slow, too unfit. My mind causes a fail before my body does, often. This was a good lesson, and I now have confidence to work towards a box jump.

(It also helps that the coaches have bought padded boxes, so no skinned shins).

I think I will sleep well tonight.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Proud.

It finally happened. On Friday, I had the graduation ceremony, conferring me with my PhD.

People ask me how it feels - it feels surreal. The work is ongoing - today I was in at work, entering data for another paper. My career in research is not over, only just starting. The postnominal PhD is lovely but immaterial to what I do, in a way.

Melbourne was putting on some spectacularly shitty rainy windy weather, after a hot one the day before. I worked in the morning, and in the afternoon, my sister came into town. We met at Jimmy Watson's for a celebratory beverage and snack. This nice fella greeted us at the door. I told him we were celebrating the conferring of my PhD that evening. He took my hand and took us to the bar, asked the bartender to get some glasses and pour little sips into the glass for us to toast. We sat to drink a proper glass or two, intermittently chatting with the regulars. My sister, reluctant to leave her baby too long, headed down back down to the Peninsula, and I went to the uni to don Regalia, and wander about for an hour before we were briefed as to the ceremony protocol. Thankfully it was a PhD-only ceremony, so it was good and short.






Soon enough, we had the ceremony. We proceeded into the hall to choristers singing in Latin. I had no idea what they were singing, but it was very stirring. Finally my name and doctoral citation was read out, and I managed to doff my bonnet and shake hands and doff my bonnet again appropriately. I watched everyone else come down after receiving their testamur - the all had proud smiles.

The occasional speech was given by Professor Suzanne Cory, an eminent molecular biologist. There is now a Selective-entry secondary school named after her, in Werribee, where I grew up. It is good to see that smart westie kids are being valued and given access to special opportunities. There was nothing like this when I was going to school, 20 years ago.

This was my view for much of the ceremony.


All the bonnets being looked down upon by Jesus. Wilson Hall is beautiful. This view gave me shivers down my spine.

After the ceremony, my supervisor, who joined the academic procession, met me for a photo


He and his wife came back to my place for some drinks (Veuve Cliquot) and food. I remember before I started the PhD somebody saying to me that PhD supervisors and their students have a very special relationship. I didn't believe it at the time, but I do now. This bloke above is a very important, benevolent and special person in my life, and has seen me through a lot through the last 5 years. He believed in me when I struggled to believe in myself. His patience, kindness and generosity has made me want to do him proud.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The next day, I got up bright and early for Crossfit open 16.4 (you didn't think you'd come away without some xfit rantings, would you?). In a positively restrained fashion, I had only consumed 2 glasses of Veuve the previous evening and been to bed fairly early, so I felt fresh as a daisy.

The WOD was as follows

13 minutes AMRAP

  • 55 deadlifts, 43kg
  • 55 Wall Balls, 4 kg (Wall balls - squat to depth, come up, throw ball at 9 ft line, catch ball, squat to depth, repeat x55)
  • 55 Calorie row
  • 55 Hand release pushups (push-ups on toes)
I just about finished the row, so never got to challenge my push-up abilities. I don't think I have ever had such burn in my quads. I was happy that I gave it my best shot and worked steadily - 5 reps at a time. It bloody hurt - 55 reps of anything turns a strength workout into a bloody awful cardio/endurance workout.

There were some photos taken by a professional photographer. When I saw them, I have to admit I was horrified. I found them so unflattering. To paraphrase myself, I thought "I look so fat, I need to go on a diet". I promptly deleted all but one from my instagram feed.

I realised that I was being my own worst troll. I had a weekend celebrating the big things that I can do, that I never thought I'd be able to do, and I am getting upset about a few fat rolls. Exercise photos are never flattering, except if you are this guy. And here I am wearing actual lycra, which does a job but shows everything. I get around wearing lycra a lot, and rarely worry about how I look (if people don't like it, they can kiss my squat-enhanced arse). And I figure that any change to diet or exercise needs to come from a place of self respect and love, not self-castigation.

It's a terrible thing I do to myself. Hence I am gonna put my photos up here.

I am proud.

That might've been around rep 30. trying to keep my back active



Hittin' that rower after the wall balls. Legs were jelly


Owwwwwwwmyquaaaaaaaads!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Open WOD 16.3 - Close, but no cigar. Lightbulb moments.

So if you are sick of my CrossFit musings then you will probably wish to click away now.

Still here? Good!

Todays workout was

7 Minutes AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

10 Power Snatches, 15kg
5 chest to bar jumping pull-ups

I first looked at this workout on the webpage yesterday. I thought "sweet". However I picked up the term "chest to bar" and groaned inwardly. WOD 16.1 (reported here) involved jumping chin to bar pull-ups and I struggled with them. I thought "no way am gonna go chest to bar".

Still, before the WOD (workout of the day), I gave them a go. I tried a few times, changing around my grip. I had no issue getting my chin to the bar (yays) but could not get my chest up to the bar.

I was told that I could only score 10 reps (ie the first 10 snatches). I was disappointed, but still, it's 10 more snatches than I could do a year ago.

I did the WOD as best I could. I thought about not registering a score, but 10 is better than 0 so....

Here is a snatch (minds out of the gutter, folks)...




Though I always used to guffaw when I asked the coaches to look at my snatch....


The full workout had bar muscle-ups rather than chinups. Bar muscle ups are a beast of a move:



During the week I had a 1:1 session with the head coach. Great to learn some skills in a more supervised environment, and gain confidence.

Speaking of which, I am trying to write a paper with the proceeds of my research. I was getting really stalled - worrying about every little word on the page.

I wrote myself this note






I need to remember that my knowledge and my work is just as good as anyone else's.


We all need a lightbulb moment. Sometime's it's a liberating, empowering moment. Sometimes it's a realisation that comes of taking a good hard look at ourselves that makes us uncomfortable. I had one of these realisations this past week - I am not yet comfortable to discuss it on this forum; I could barely bring myself to talk to my partner. But it's all good.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Open workout 16.2 - where I was to where I am now.


Today was the second workout of the Crossfit open, 16.2. The Open is a very big deal worldwide, with big fanfare leading up to the announcement of the workout, with a live countdown and youtube announcement. A bit like the footy grand final or something.

This was the scaled Women's version
Beginning on a 4-minute clock, complete as many reps as possible of:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
15 squat cleans, 25kg

If completed before 4 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
13 squat cleans, 35kg

If completed before 8 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
11 squat cleans, 43 kg

If completed before 12 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
9 squat cleans, 52kg

If completed before 16 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
7 squat cleans, 61kg 


Hanging leg raises involve jumping up to hang from the bar, then swinging bent knees toward the chest (knees above hip crease) and repeating. I remember doing this for the first time a year ago, when I first went to crossfit. Jumping up to grab a cold, rough bar and hang your body weight from it was really, really hard! My upper body strength was not great, and my hands baby soft, so there was a searing pain in my hands, and I could only do about 2-3 knee raises at a stretch. Today it was 25, and I did them! 

FYI, here is the full movement that I am working up to, that's in the full (Rx) workout, the toes to bar.





 Skipping is something I can do much better now than when I first came. I can skip like a boss. I can even do a few "double unders", which is where you pass the rope twice underneath the feet per jump - it involves jumping higher and moving the rope really fast. This is in the full workout.

The next movement is the squat clean. Again I had no knowledge of proper Olympic lifting prior to doing Crossfit. Now I have mastered the basic technique, but am still having issues with getting "under" the bar, required to get a heavy weight to shoulders. My squat is getting a lot better, though. You know my opinion on the importance of squatting deep.

My 1-rep max for a clean is 38kg. Hence I struggled with second, 35kg round, especially after doing all the stuff coming before it.

This is probably the only clean I'm working on.... (boom tish)



It was a great morning, where we all cheered each other on. I was particularly inspired by a girl I was working out with, who hit the 43kg round, and was powering through it. Here the grunt, kind of like what the tennis players do, really helps. It releases a hit of adrenaline and endorphins. Getting in touch with the masculine side. 

I would have liked to have done a few more reps during the workout, but I keep in mind that I could have done none of this a year ago. 

I did a bit of self-gifting this birthday.

The first thing was a personal training session with the head coach at the box - master some more techniques. Might do a few. Might get that elusive box jump.

The second thing was a pair of new kicks - Nike sneakers, in black. Badass black.

I am having a wild Saturday night in, watching Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I had forgotten what a brilliant movie it was, and how great an actor Guy Pearce is.

Monday, 29 February 2016

37

A quick note. My fella is taking me to dinner tonight, for my birthday. I need to go don a frock and makeup etc.

I have celebrated it by doing Crossfit. Front-squatting 40kg with perfect technique and to full depth, glutes powering away.

(FYI - squats are very important for healthy ageing - many older people can't get up off a low chair without using their arms, so get onnit).

I think my 37 year old self is stronger than my 36 year old self.

Definitely in a physical sense, as I have guns (the bicep kind) and glutes, and I know how to use them.

It's not a bravado kind of strong, it's about pushing through and not giving up despite the fears. Perhaps that takes inner confidence, but I still  have my share of self-doubt. I just don't bow down to it.

I feel more comfortable in my skin than this time a year ago, having made some peace with the fact that I am unlikely to ever be a size 8, or even 10 or a small 12.

I still feel self-conscious about the space I take up in the world. Somewhat uncomfortably, I will ask for things, that I will make my presence known, but I have stopped apologising for it.

As I get older, I am getting more "angry feminist". I was describing what I needed to do at the beauty parlour today. My fella called it pampering. I asked "since when is ripping your pubes and stray eyebrows out by their roots pampering?". While I like to challenge the dominant patriarchal paradigm, I still like to look tidy, and have no handlebar mustache activity in a swimsuit. I am also starting to recognise where men have it easier, particularly in a career advancement sense.

As Oscar Wilde said, to be happy, it's necessary not to be too intelligent. So I temper my observations with a good bit of humour and sense of the absurd.

Today, I feel happy and proud of my 37 year old self.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Crossfit updates. Vacuum cleaners

Happy Sunday evening to you.

I have been doing Crossfit for a year now. I love it, and I love the friends I have made. That progress is slow does not worry me so much.

Every February, there is a worldwide competition called the Crossfit Open. There are Rx (ie only for the very fit) and Scaled (for mortals like myself) divisions.  There are Masters (40+/55+) divisions. There is a set workout or WOD every week for five weeks, which everyone does. The best 30 or so Rx athletes from each geographic area go on to a "regional" competition, and the best of them go on to the Crossfit Games, which occurs in the US in May. It's a big thing in the Crossfit world. Thousands of people enter the open. It reaches a bit of a religious fervour.

We are all encouraged to enter. I forgot my ego, my "oh my God I am going to do so bad and I don't want people to know" tendency, I paid the USD 20 (AUD 29) and registered. The first WOD was on Saturday. The box was set up with all the markers. Some of the more experienced Crossfitters from the box, as well as doing the WOD (workout of the day) themselves, were engaged as judges for the other people doing the WOD. Strict standards are maintained, no corners can be cut. If the rep/movement isn't done to completion, it's a "no rep" and it has to be repeated properly for it to be counted towards the score.

So I rolled up to the box at 0800 on Saturday. People were already doing the WOD, with looks of grim determination on their faces, and sweat pouring off, their clipboard wielding judges marking the movements off and cheering them on. The music was pumping and the atmosphere was buzzing. The coach referred to those doing the open as "open athletes".

The "scaled" WOD (Females) for Saturday, Open WOD 16.1, was as follows

20 minutes AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

7.5 metre walking lunge with 15kg barbell held in front rack position
8 burpees over bar
7.5 metre walking lunge with 15kg barbell held in front rack position
8 jumping pull ups with chin to bar

The standards were as follows
-knee had to hit the ground at the bottom of the lunge.
-whole foot had to clear the 7.5 metre line
-no dropping the bar in the 7.5 metre walk (if dropped -back to start)
-Burpees are chest and thighs to ground, two foot take off for the jump over the bar, head behind bar when prone
-chin had to reach the bar during pull up.

This workout bought out a number of weaknesses. I with a couple of ankle injuries and tight hips, I had been wobbly at lunges and not much good at getting my knee to hit the ground. I was barely mastering them without added weight. I can do burpees but I am about as speedy as a sloth on valium with them. My pull-ups are coming along but that movement I found hard. A few times I jumped and my chin didn't quite reach the bar. The judge yelled "no rep" and I went "fuck" and did it again.

It was really frickin' hard. I remember feeling a bit silly and slow being up to the burpees when some of the others were on the chinups. I even felt a bit sick toward the end. However I did not stop despite feeling tired, in pain and ill. My "judge" cheered me on, even prompted me "left leg, now right leg, come on, big jump".

Later in the workout a few of the other "athletes" come to cheer me on. It really helped. Finally I finished and I did the obligatory toss of the barbell and fall dramatically to the ground to catch my breath and rest. This going to ground is totally allowed and even encouraged. People find your hand to shake or high-five. The judge congratulated me for not taking a rest and keeping on moving throughout.

Even though I got far fewer reps than some of my mates, I was not worried. That I gave it a crack was good. I had always made a few excuses on the basis of being a bit tubbier or less athletic than the other girls, but today no short cuts could be taken. Rather than being embarrassed for being slower, I felt empowered for doing the same thing as some of the fit girls I admire.

I am also getting far less fearful of the box jump - it was something very simple that my coach said that helped me get my head around jumping without hesitating.

I have pulled up rather sore today. My left butt cheek in particular is giving me curry - that glute has been a bit lazy and it had a workout. I am looking forward to what the next week will bring.

My fella and I got some gift cards for Chrissy, and we pooled them, and added some cash, to buy a Dyson Vacuum cleaner. I had been skeptical, as I am about any expensive cleaning appliance, as scrupulous cleanliness has never been high on my list of priorities (ok that sounds really bad).

I took the Dyson for a spin yesterday, after my big workout, and I was impressed and alarmed in equal measure. Impressed because of the amount of dirt it picked up and how clean it made the carpets looked, alarmed because that heap of dirt and dog hair and my hair was filth that we had been wallowing in.

It's kind of cool to use something that somebody has carefully engineered.