Dear Daughters – Carrying those Bags – Chauvinism or Chivalry?

Dear Daughters,

My dear sweet husband is a benevolent chauvinist. This came as quite a shock to him because he always thought he was chivalrous. And he thought that was a good thing. The poor man was quite horrified to find out that when he carried the heavy shopping, opened the unwieldy doors, chopped the wood, emptied the bins; he was in fact being condescending and re-inforcing my supposed female weakness.

But here is a Fact:
Men are generally physically stronger than women. Physicality between men and women is not an even playing ground.

If women could physically fight back on equal terms there would be so much less domestic violence against women, less rape, less assault. If women were as physically strong as men we would have mixed gender sports and cheaters wouldn’t dose up on testosterone.

Fact: If I ever had to physically fight my five foot eleven husband there is no way I’d win – thankfully there is no physical violence in our relationship so this will never be put to the test. But you just have to look at him – solid five feet eleven and me, less solid, five foot seven, weighing in at least fifteen kilos less.

So, is chivalry rubbing salt into the wound?

Is it him putting it right up in my face that I am physically weaker than him? That because of my physicality I need him to look after me as university papers are claiming.

Well I’ve thought about this a lot over the last week or so and come to the conclusion that I don’t think so. At least not for most men.

I think Chivalry is in fact as Aretha sings RESPECT.

I think its men saying “Hey I know I am physically stronger than you and I’m going to be respectful about it.” I think it’s an effort by men to balance the scales.

Certainly that’s what my husband feels when he carries the heavy shopping bags, or pulls open that monstrous door because he has both arms free and I have a handbag to carry my girl-stuff, or when thank god he saves me from the heavy gardening – and I say go for it! There are enough things where I do it better than him.

And what’s more I will thank him for his consideration and politeness as the strong, independent, successful woman I am.

Because as a strident feminist woman it takes more than politeness and respect to make me feel weak, belittled or condescended to.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/11461901/Chilvary-could-indicate-hidden-sexism-study-finds.html

Dear Daughters and Sons – Listen to RuPaul.

I realised in the middle of the night – which is when we realise all great or stupid things – that the one thing I regret in life more than any thing else is this – I didn’t believe in myself.

I have lost opportunities. I have seen small rocks that needed kicking out of the way as enormous insurmountable walls. I have assumed that I don’t deserve the opportunity in front of me or I’m not up to it.

I’ve not been much better in my relationships. I haven’t stood up to people treating me badly and said ‘No More!’I assumed that somehow I deserved to be treated badly – that I was simply more unlovable than other people. And the problem with this is that there are always people around who will take the opportunity to treat others badly – especially if they are getting away with it.

When the editor of The Age (remember newspapers) wrote to me and said the cartoon I’d sent him just needed a couple of changes I said, ‘Oh it’s been rejected.’ And threw the cartoon out when I should have said, ‘I’m nearly there,’ changed it and sent it back. When I won an award for my first manuscript I said,’It’s a fluke’ When I should have said, ‘Wow publisher’s like my work!’ When people treated me badly I said, ‘There’s something wrong with me’ when I should have said, ‘There’s something wrong with you.’

I do believe that not believing in myself comes from having a truly dreadful childhood, with inept parents who didn’t affirm my lovability as a little kid. But! And its a big but. There is a point where we all become accountable for ourselves as adults and can no longer blame our parents, no matter how crap they were, for anything.

Of course I did the typical bad childhood thing and as soon as I got the opportunity I tried to create my own safe loving family where I could believe in myself but the problem with this is that families are ever changing creatures – like life. Your children grow. They find out you aren’t invincible. They find out you are fractured. You can’t keep them as children forever or you become the terrible parent you are trying to escape.

If I could go back and change my life I would believe in myself more.

So my daughters and sons dear – believe in yourselves. Say the right things to yourselves. Expect the best for yourself. Because it turns out that RuPaul is right. If you can’t love yourself – How you gonna love someone else? Can I get an Amen in here!

Dear Daughters and Sons – The Things that Haunt Us

Many times in my life I have curled up into a ball and wanted to disappear feeling that I just can’t do it – life that is.

About Half the Time:

If I could talk to my younger self in these moments I would like to shake myself and say – Listen Younger-self – half the time when people are judgmental towards you – It’s Them – Not You.

Because people can be judgmental shits.

You just need to read the comments section of online newspapers to see that.

About a Quarter of the Time:

I would say to my Younger-self – It’s Not You – you’re just in a shitty situation. You’re working in the wrong place or hanging out with the wrong group or you were born to the wrong parents (if they were abusive) and you just need to find the people or lover or work place or church or playgroup or gym or café or whatever – where you will be appreciated. Because quarter of the time It’s the Situation and Not You.

The Other Quarter of the time:

I would say to my Younger-self – Yes you were an idiot sometimes – probably about quarter of the time. You can’t avoid it. You said stupid things and did stupid things; you handled situations and other people badly. You could have done sooooo much better.

And in my darkest moments these times come back to haunt me.

Interestingly it’s not the big things that haunt me. It’s not the decisions about who to marry (it took me two goes but I got that right) it’s not where to live or how many kids to have. It’s not the affairs I had (pre-marriage) – though one was regrettable because he was an idiot and another was iffy because he was married. But in my defense he had devised an elaborate con including an apartment, red satin sheets (which should have been a tip off) and a colluding relative to convince me he was single.

It’s the little things that haunt me. It’s where I missed friendship because I didn’t think I was worthy and so I mistrusted what was being offered or didn’t even see it. It’s the harsh words I said without thinking or when I didn’t see something from someone else’s point of view and stomped over their feelings without realizing I was doing so.

But of course curling into a ball and beating your head doesn’t change or help and leads to drinking too many whiskeys so the only thing you can do as mundane and cliché as it is – is to pick yourself up, forgive your own mistakes and other’s mistakes too and try to do better. To remember that at least:

Three Quarters of the Time:

It probably isn’t your fault when things and people go wrong so don’t beat yourself up. And you are worthy of friendship and love so grab it and run with it.

Dear Everyone – The right kind of Slackness

When I had cancer people said the most outrageous things to me. Theses included such wisdom as ‘Oh its Karma‘ and ‘I know exactly what you’re going through because my 94 year old father has cancer‘ and ‘Good things will come out of this‘. Worse and less was said to me. And because none of us know what to say to people in difficult situations like death or cancer these efforts to be supportive were not what I needed

There is nothing good in cancer. I don’t believe in Karma or evil people wouldn’t continuously get away with doing evil things and because your 94 year old father has cancer that doesn’t mean you understand what its like to be 40, with young children and being told you may have 3 months to live.

But none of the people who said these things said them with the intention to hurt me. In fact the opposite was true. All these things were said in love, with the intent to be helpful, to empathise and to be supportive.

So I learnt it is not what people say that should be judged but their intent. I could choose to be offended or I could choose to look at the real meaning which was usually an effort to be kind.

So now I try not to hold unrealistic expectations of others. I try not to judge their words but their intent and I try to cut other people some slack.

Of course I fail often and then I emotionally beat myself up and my husband Pete says, ‘Hey Robbi cut yourself some slack.’

An Embarrassing Confession

Dear Daughters and Sons,

I have a confession to make.

If I think about my life I can straight off think of many books that have changed the way I think or the journey I am on. Lady Chatterley’s Lover showed me that I didn’t have to stay in a marriage with no tenderness. Langdon Gilkey’s Message and Existence showed me new ways to think about God and Life. C.S Lewis showed me that we can imagine and live in other worlds. But there are many, many other books that have had an impact on my life. And here is the confession –

I stopped reading books.

When I got a mobile phone.

It didn’t happen immediately but over the years I started lying in bed at night reading what I can only describe as crap or worse playing games, on my phone even though I soon realised this was impacting negatively on my sleep, my thinking, my brain. And none of it was life changing.

So a few months ago – desperate for decent sleep, I decided that I would put down the stupid phone and buy real books with pages you can feel between your fingers. After all a book costs no more than a few coffees and less than a cafe meal.

And horror of horrors I found I couldn’t focus on more than a few lines without drifting off and losing concentration. I was trying to read Maestra by L.S. Hilton and I gave up after 3 chapters because I couldn’t follow it. This is sad but true. My brain was no longer accustomed to reading. I had always heard people say, ‘Oh I can’t read’ but I never understood what they meant until now. Obviously they weren’t illiterate so I assumed what they meant is ‘I don’t like to read’ which was just as confusing to me. But now it was me.

But I stuck at reading and forced my way through several well (Voltaire’s Calligrapher) and not well chosen books and within a two months I was back where I used to be – unable to put books down and rediscovering the incredible bliss that reading is. I picked up Maestra again and devoured it and despite it not being life changing it was still a rollicking though nasty, nasty yarn.

So my request is this – don’t lose the art of reading and don’t waste too much time on your phones. Reading broadens your mind and the possibilities in your life and if you too have stopped reading to sit on your phones you can reverse this and rediscover the wonder of reading. Or perhaps discover it for the first time.

Dear Daughters and Sons – why I am an Atheist who believes in Church

My Sunday mornings are sacred. This combined with the boringness of singing hymns, listening to sermons, a lack of concrete belief in God and the churches archaic attitude to women and gays is why I no longer go to church. But mostly because my Sunday mornings are a sacred family time, spent in discussion over long leisurely breakfasts with several pots of darjeeling.

In my childhood I spent all day Sunday in church. This included two church services, one in the morning and one in the evening, christian endeavour in the afternoons and Sunday school.

I haven’t been to church for twenty years. But these are the two things I miss most about church. Sermons were a weekly reminder that we are not alone in the human struggle – that no matter what we are going through others are also struggling and weekly sermons encouraged us to be the best we could be in these struggles. Church was a place of community. I honestly hardly know my neighbours but when I went to church I not only caught up with my neighbours, I shared meals with them and was aware of any crisis going on in their lives as the church members rallied around those in need.

Now nothing on gods green earth would get me out of bed early on a Sunday Morning but it sometimes feels that if we could find a way of re-defining what church is, it needn’t be thrown out with the bath water.

Because I know I need reminding each week that I am not alone, I need reminding to care about others before myself and to be a better person and I need a place of community where our family extends beyond just us. I just don’t need religion.

Dear Daughters and Sons – how to not become a hermit in a knitted beanie.

Dear Daughters and Sons,

All my life I have been ’emotionally fluid’ you know – like waves, large ones that roll and crash about without direction. Its gotten worse as I’ve gotten older which is a bummer because I expected to grow wise and become able to control my emotions. Not just grow older. I used to wonder how those older people who lived like hermits with big overgrown gardens and spooky houses became like that. Now I know that over a life – life’s experiences can wear you down, erode away your sense of self worth and faith in others until you want to hide. I could easily be on the road to being the strange hermit, behind the rambling roses, with the tumbling down house. I have been hurt often enough, I have hurt others often enough that I find it easy to drown in waves of self loathing.

I have searched for self worth in many places. I searched for it in my appearance and true, when I was in my 30’s the decade where everyone is beautiful, I felt great walking down the main street of Daylesford in my short short dresses and knee high boots. But now I am too old for short short skirts though never too old for knee high boots. We all will look older one day (unless we are Nicole Kidman) and can no longer rely on youth for self worth. I searched for self worth in sex and I had some fun sex on tables and by rivers with gorgeous men with long flowing hippie hair and even better forbidden sex with men I shouldn’t have been with. But then I met the man I wanted to grow old with and my relationship with him became more important than sex – which was lucky because nothing ruins sex and self worth like getting aggressive cancer and I got that when I turned 40. I searched for self worth in social media even though I don’t really get it and hashtag all the wrong words and send messages to the wrong people. But I realised I felt happy when people liked my posts and became distraught when a men’s vigilante anti feminist group in the USA latched onto me and swamped me with hate mail and I ran and hid.

Lots of things make me want to hide. I could easily be on the road to being the strange hermit, behind the rambling roses, with the tumbling down house. I have been hurt often enough, I have hurt others often enough that I find it easy to drown in waves of self loathing.

But I choose not to become the strange hermit in a hand knitted beanie.

Because what really gives me my sense of self worth is the relationships I have with the people closest to me. These aren’t relationships where we exchange a couple of texts or like each others posts (though these are useful ways of staying in touch on a daily basis with those you love). These are relationships that exist in real time, spent in the real world, with food and drink and old fashioned breaking of gluten free bread. This is sitting every morning with my husband over a pot of tea and coffee. This is knowing what is happening in my kids lives and hearing their voices every few days. This is being honest with my friends about how much they mean to me even if they think I am a soppy loser who might be too dependent and intense.

So daughters and sons, in a noisy noisy world with skinny skinny actresses and models plastered everywhere – don’t find self worth in your appearance. And in a world where thank god it is becoming more acceptable to be pan/trans/bi/gay/straight/binary/non-binary remember that in the end sex is just sex and please remember that texting is not a heartfelt letter, posting memes is not sharing your soul, likes and follows do not mean you are loved or not loved.
What matters is the relationships you are building with those that will accompany you through life and stop you becoming a hermit.

Dear Everyone – Happiness only exists because of Sadness

In my last letter I said that I was starting Day 1 on my road to happiness.

Somehow I got stuck at Day 1 and didn’t get to Day 2 for a long time.

And when I got to Day 2 I didn’t realise I’d got there until I was looking back and was able to say ‘Oh yeah things have got better.’

So have I found happiness on Day 2?

Maybe.

Nothing has really got better – not in a practical sense. I am still struggling to pay my bills. I am still 57. I am still invisible when I go out unless my uber cute 19 year old daughter is with me and then some of the shine on her settles on me just because I am standing within her shine zone. My body is still ravaged by cancer and makes me cry and I still pester my gorgeous doctor Gavin with irrational fears of cancer in my left little toe nail. I still feel crap almost every day from the affects of the treatment. There are still crap drivers on the road that make me use language I tell my kids off for using. Alcohol still makes me fat. Avocados, chocolate, bubble tea and cheesecake still make me fat. In fact anything I really like to eat makes me fat.

But we look for Happiness in all the wrong places.

Because Happiness is not to be looked for. Happiness is not to be found – it’s to be made.

And it can’t be made for an entire life time.

Happiness is only happiness in contrast to Sadness. Otherwise it’s nothing.

Happiness, (and its only taken me 50 years to realise this) is made of moments, some are fleeting moments, some last the length of a holiday.

It is still moments of happiness that fill a life.

The rest of the time we rail and struggle against whatever life sends us just trying to survive and trying to find one or two other people who will bare themselves to us so they can stand beside us as we rail and struggle together.

And then the moments of happiness remind us that life is not just struggle and railing and swearing but it is something else, something we can’t put our finger on that we call spiritual or meaningful or …..happiness.

I have realised that for me my true happiness comes from the moments of connection and sharing life and food and celebrations that I have with those I love, my kids, my husband and my friends or even people I don’t know who drop a line to say they are standing beside me.

And no matter what shit happens to me – those moments keep happening.

So I do have happiness.

Dear Daughters – finding a perfect man – Dear Sons – why you can never be one

Yesterday my husband Pete forgot about my strict baptist upbringing and thought he would try a little role playing with me.

He walked into the kitchen, swaggering in a singlet and shorts and said, ‘G’day Lovvie, I’m Big Bob from Big Bobs massage palour for professional women.’

He didn’t get the response he wanted, I reached for my favourite tea pot, laughed and said, ‘Nah thats never gonna work on me.’

He walked out and a few minutes was back, ‘G’day Love,’ he said, ‘Mick the plumber here to fix your ah plumbing.’

‘Nope – not working,’ I said and kept pouring the hot water onto my darjeeling leaves.

‘Ahh,’ he sighed, ‘what do you want then?’

‘Try – Hi I’m Aiden, I have a PHD in Women’s Rights, I’m super kind and sensitive but also really witty and I work out and I can mend fences, do electrical work and any other tradie jobs you need doing. Got any housework or handiman work I can do for you,’ I said.

‘Wow you don’t want much in a man hey?’ he asked.

SPECIAL NOTE: To all the men who keep writing me hate mail about this post – STOP! This post is NOT about men. It’s about women and the sometimes ridiculous expectations we have of what men can be (mainly instilled in us as little girls by disney movies and alpha men in hollywood movies). Like wise men often have ridiculous expectations of women –  and if we aren’t gorgeous and slim and under 35 we simply don’t exist. And for the record my husband is not slim, nor handy with any tools, he can’t do electrical work, or fencing and he doesn’t have a PHD but he does have a really kind heart, he knows when I want protection (because he is physically bigger than me) and he respects my abilities and encourages me to achieve all I want to achieve in life as I hope I do for him.

 

Dear Daughters and Sons on Day 2. To be Happy Put Your Head in the Sand

Dear Daughters, Sisters and Sons

This is what I always do.

In my mind I line up all the wonderful women I know, admire and love and then I focus on how far short I fall of them.

This is not a good idea.

But I’m not going to stop doing it, so instead what I am going to do is ignore the short fall.

Ignoring stuff is a really useful life skill and tool.

I have found it to be a most useful tool in having a successful marriage. Anything that can be ignored should be. Only make an issue of stuff that is a deal breaker and ignore every thing else that niggles at you and I promise your marriage will be far less fraught with tension.

So I am going to ignore the fact that I can’t paint as beautifully as my friend Maryanne, or that I don’t have the social skills that make people feel warm and happy like Julie and Jenuarrie, nor am I as kind, compassionate and funny as my friend Louise manages or be, nor am I as beautiful inside and out as my friend Linda, nor do write as well as Kate, nor cook as well as Maggie and I certainly don’t look as sexy in the kitchen as Rachel. I even look at my daughters and think how much more together they are, than I was at their age.

Basically I can look at any other female and immediately identify all the ways in which I fall short in comparison. And I don’t manage to manage my friendships well because I assume that underneath my friends are going to feel about me the way I feel about me which isn’t that great.

So on day 2. Of changing my life, in the pursuit of happiness I have decided to ignore the fact that I don’t do any of these things as well as the clever, wonderful women I know.

I’m going to ignore this and I’m just gonna get on in there and do this stuff anyway ignoring the fact that I might not be doing it very well – just like those kids that apply for Australia’s got talent, who sing like cats but are convinced they are the next Amy Winehouse and don’t hesitate to tell the judges how brilliant they are.

I’m going to try some blindness to my own failings and see if it works. I’m going to do the three things I love doing most regardless of how well I do them or how well anyone else does them, cooking, painting, writing and then even if I am a wailing cat I am going to inflict them on the rest of the world.

So last night I created a new recipe and put it on my recipe blog, I wrote on this blog and I started a new painting.

I admit I had to force myself to do these things as the despair was biting at my heels.

And I admit that after I did them I did in fact feel better in my mind and body. So maybe the stiff upper lip the British always stood by has some merit – along with putting your head in the sand.

Dear Sisters, on day 1. make your own happiness

Dear Sisters,

I have not written for a long time. This is because I am a mess.

When I was in my 30’s people in their 50s told me that your 50s is the best time of your life. For me this has not been true.

When I look back, the best time of my life was my 30s. I was slim; I had great sex with men wherever the passion took me and was old enough and mature enough to manage it with reasonable aplomb and only a few bad choices. I had two of my kids in my 30s, I found “the one” and got married in my 30s and most importantly I felt I had my whole life ahead of me.

Little did I know that life ahead of me was going to mean spending my 40s fighting cancer and then the after effects of cancer. And spending my 50’s being a mess.

I have not found this wonderful place I was promised of finally being happy in my own skin. In my 50’s I have fallen apart.

Astronomically and sensationally fallen apart.

A couple of things have happened to trigger this slide into despair.

The cancer was life threatening and life changing and I never really got over its damage. The psychological damage from cancer is massive and underrated. Even if you survive and don’t get me wrong I am so, so grateful for surviving but I don’t look the same, I don’t feel the same, so many parts of me that made up me were ravaged and killed by the cancer. I lost my hair, my eyebrows, my eyelashes, my cervix, my uterus, my ovaries, my breasts and what I got was a whole pile of chemically induced weight. I was left with a shell emotionally and physically. My hair was the only thing to grow back and it grew back resentfully in tiny thin wisps that weren’t even a reminder of the enormous curly long locks I had pre-cancer.

When I told my oncologist I felt bad after the cancer, that I had trouble getting out of bed each day he said, ‘but your cured for the time being – you should feel good.’ And that is the attitude that is most expressed, once you have survived you should pick yourself up and get on, because after all there is all those people who are still being diagnosed or not surviving. This is true but doesn’t address the nightmares, the change to your personality and looks, the exhaustion from the treatment, the constant worry that every little thing wrong with you is the cancer back. I would happily have a permanent weekly spot in my doctor’s appointment book to check the ache in my little finger and the new freckle spot on my toe.

So I took this cancer baggage with me into my 50’s and in my 50s’ further trauma struck. I was monumentally wronged by a woman who sued me for something I didn’t do and when we were just getting back on our feet from the cancer this cost me a huge amount of money and emotional stress to defend myself against her allegations. The lawyers won out. I spent many days in tears worried about my ability to emotionally and financially survive.

But again I survived and was just getting back on my feet again when I was attacked in my workplace, by a massive bloke, who punched me in the head and tried to kill me with a 25cm pair of scissors. I truly thought I was going to die in that moment. So this was the second time in a decade or so that I faced imminent death.
I stood there as he plunged at me with the scissors, aiming for my heart and I thought this is the place I die – this is what my life amounts to – dying here at the hands of an idiot.

I lost my job because the threat to my life continued and I was no longer safe in my workplace. And he got a one month suspended sentence and I became a mess again.

I know this all spells Post traumatic Stress.

Is Post Traumatic Stress real? Insurance companies think not and it’s hard to prove you have it.

How do I explain what it feels like to not be able to walk out my front door or if I do walk out the front door its even harder to come home again. How do I explain that I spend most of my waking time thinking about how I could kill myself in a way that seems natural and won’t destroy my family or that most days I can’t answer my phone or look at my emails because I expect it to be bad news of a catastrophic type. How do I explain that I am constantly shaking inside, a shaking that just never stops. And what can be done about it anyway?

On top of all of this I am in my 50s’s. This means I have become invisible. I get served last in shops and the sales people don’t bother to make eye contact with me, men don’t see me at all, younger women have started calling me love and darling and speaking to me as if I am an idiot, the clothes shops are not for me, the advertisements are not for me, the world is not for me.

I have reached the age where people make jokes about people my age having sex or passion and make ooh sounds that are of the oooh gross type rather than the oooh sexy type.

I am a woman who is 50 therefore I question if I have value in the world.

So what to do? I have long believed we are responsible for our own happiness. So I think the answer is obvious and practical. I need to change my life. I need to ignore the fact I am in my 50s. I need to find that place that I was told about where I don’t care for the gazes of men or the recognition and approval of others.
I need to get physically healthy and mentally sound. I need to take responsibility for my own happiness. Today is day 1.

Idiots who tried to cure my Cancer

Dear Sons and Daughters,

10 years ago I had cancer. You can believe me because I have the scars to prove it.

Every idiot knew how to cure me.

I was told red cordial, meditation, drinking grass juice, drinking my own urine, eating only vegetables, having my chakra aligned, never touching coffee, tea, alcohol, cows milk, doing yoga, doing pilates, becoming a buddhist, eating spoonfuls of flaxseed, gulping bottles of antioxidants, staying off antioxidants, going to Mexico and eating cyanide infused apricot kernels by the handful would all cure me.

Chemotherapy and Radiation would definitely kill me, they said.

I couldn’t do all these things. I hate meditation, I hate it so much it really stresses me out. I was never giving up my morning pot of Darjeeling and I couldn’t afford to go to Mexico.

My cancer was nasty, it was aggressive. As much as I thought my oncologist was great I wanted a second opinion and trundled off to the Peter Mac Cancer Hospital where as soon as my husband left the room, I said to the sympathetic young doctor, ‘Really what are my chances of survival?’
‘You want a figure – something concrete?’
‘Yeah,’ I said. She didn’t flinch, she must have been used to this question and she said without blinking, ‘You have a 20% chance of surviving the next three months.’

I went home clinging to the 20 percent.

People with cancer are desperate and vulnerable and will cling to any hope, any cure.

Enter all the idiots with their wellness blogs and cures, some who have had cancer, some who are pretending – though why you would want to pretend you had cancer is beyond me.

Yes some people have chemotherapy and radiation and they die anyway. Yes some people follow some of these bloggers advice, stay off the chemo and they die too.

My mum had cancer at the same time as me. She ate the apricot kernels by the handfuls, refused the chemotherapy and trusted God to cure her.

Tragically he didn’t.

Thats the thing about cancer – there are no guarantees, some people die and some people have amazing fantastical miracle cures from weird things like red sugar filled cordial or beetroot and brussel-sprout juice – go figure.

But every time I read of some young person with cancer following some wellness bloggers advice and staying off chemotherapy I feel immensely sad. I do not think medicine is the be-all and end-all, but I do think when your life is at risk you should take every opportunity to save it.
Don’t restrict yourself.
Do it all.
Medicine has years of research behind it and medicine and other options are not mutually exclusive.

I ate the flaxseeds and the antioxidants and was a vegetarian while I had cancer – do I think these things cured me? No, in honesty I don’t – but I don’t think they hurt and I think they probably helped. But I did also have the chemo, the radiation and the surgeries.

I figured that when my life was at risk why put all my eggs in one basket?

I thought, I’m going for life.

So I recon if you want to drink your own urine or only eat organic grass – fine – but have the chemo as well, do it all and give yourself the best chance!

Dear Daughters and Sons – When it’s Okay to Cheat on Your Significant Other

I have been both a cheater and the cheated on, I cheated with a guy who looked just like Sting, he spent 6 months slowly seducing me and OMG he was gorgeous, he was also a cross dressing bisexual junkie but he was gorgeous.

And I have also been cheated on, my partner did it with a woman that was 10 years older than me which somehow made me feel even worse because I couldn’t even complain that he was going for the stereotypical younger model.

To be fair to me it was the 80’s which was pretending to be the 70’s which was pretending to still be the 60’s and full of free love and daisies.

Here is when it’s okay to cheat on your partner/wife/husband – WHEN YOU WANT A DIVORCE.

And probably even then there are better ways to go about splitting up.

Here is what I have learnt about cheating both as a cheater and the cheated on.

Cheating isn’t the cause of a break up – it’s the symptom of deeper underlying problems.

When everything is okay the most gorgeous Other can come along and try to seduce you or your mate with their Alexander Skarsgard or Christina Hendricks sparkle and any happy couple will immediately close ranks and protect what they have against the intruder.

When I cheated – I desperately wanted out of the relationship and with three little kids, no money of my own and even less sense or maturity I had no practical idea of how to go about doing it.

So I forced the situation with an absolutely ludicrous but luscious affair – oh my god was he hot.

When I was cheated on I really didn’t care that my partner was having sex with someone else because the relationship and the sex was pretty crap but I did care that he was betraying my secrets to her and that he was lying to me ALOT, it really made me feel insignificant and worthless.

Cheating hurts the cheated on and the cheated with.
Because your partner always knows in their gut that you are cheating on them and the other person always thinks you are going to leave and set up a nest with them when really they are just a symptom or a transit vehicle.

You can justify the cheating anyway you want – but it still hurts someone.

Do I regret the affair – nope I don’t – he really did look like Sting or Axl Rose or that dude from Cheap Trick and he was one of the kindest men I have ever known.

But I do regret the cheating.

It really destroyed the person I cheated on (who just so happened to also be cheating on me).

If you are feeling seduced into cheating your mate – my advice is close ranks or split up instead.

Of course there are always exceptions to every rule.
This is true – I had two close friends who had been together since they were 14. He started to realise that she was being seduced by someone at work and that he might lose his childhood sweetheart. He figured that as they’d been together since 14, and she’d never been with anyone else she was probably bored or wanting to experiment. So he quit his job, bought two round the world tickets and surprised her with them. Off they went and by the time they got back she had forgotten all about the other guy. It’s thirty years later and they are still very happy together.

Dear Daughters – How to Ruin a Relationship

Dear Daughters,

I’m going to tell you how to ruin a relationship because some of you seem not to know. Some of you seem to think equality will ruin a relationship between a man and a woman.
This is not true – it won’t work for you.
Its super easy to ruin a relationship.
If you need help here are a few ideas,

  1. Cheat with someone who looks like Aidan Turner
  2. Be really stupid
  3. Be really selfish
  4. Throw lots of tantrums

In case you don’t quite get it – EQUALITY DOES NOT RUIN RELATIONSHIPS!

So to all of you who have written to me telling me that Feminism is ruining relationships between men and women I would like to say a few things,

  1. Feminism is only a word that means Equality for Women
  2. Equality for women does not Equal Hating Men
  3. The only thing that ruins relationships between men and women is men and women acting selfishly and stupidly, I’ll say it again in case you missed it – equality does not ruin relationships
  4. If you are with a bloke who doesn’t believe in equality for women dump him!
  5. My husband is just as committed to feminism as I am – after all he has 4 daughters and a wife he adores
  6. I personally adore many men, my husband, my 4 sons, my doctor who is often also my friend, my art gallery owner friend Giorgio, my writer friend Mario in Italy, Marco Pierre White who has the hottest voice ever and the list goes on – adoring these men doesn’t stop me being a feminist.
  7. And this is most important – For the majority of women in the world the job of feminism is far from done and we must stand and demand better for those women. We do not live in selfish isolation.

    I wish to thank all of you who have written me wonderful letters like this one,

Dear Robbi,
THANK YOU! I am absolutely dismayed at the cavalier way many (obviously, not all) young women treat the feminist movement. When applying for an executive position, they’ve never been asked their typing speed, of if they “wouldn’t rather have someone to keep them warm at night than this job,” or hearing their interviewers say, “Well, we never thought about hiring a woman, but _____ company did, and I hear she’s done OK,” or “Sorry, we aren’t going to give you the job, but how would you like to have dinner with me?”
You are so right that as long as women anywhere in the world are chattel, we should be working to help them have access to education and jobs, and freedom from forced marriages and servitude.
Best always,
Nana, Happily married (for 25+ years!) feminist.

Now I lets get back to discussing really serious issues like how the world can be divided into Legolas Women and Aragorn Women.
Personally it’s Aragorn all the way for me.

Dear Daughters Against Feminism – You’re right. Equality Sucks!

Dear Daughters @ http://yourfriendshouse.com/2014/women-are-standing-up-against-feminism-and-its-going-viral/

I’m so glad you believe you don’t need the feminist movement – the reason you believe you don’t need the feminist movement is -because hmmm lets see – oh yes – the feminist movement.

I’m glad you weren’t a young women in the 70’s when I thought I might like to be a bank teller with the Commonwealth Bank, it was a good steady job that I could do until I got married, yes that’s right, even in the 70’s women were often expected to give up work if they married. Anyway to be a teller you had to sit a state-wide exam in Melbourne. So I trundled off to the city one Saturday morning and sat the exam.
Then the bank called me in for an interview.
I sat in a little cubicle and a bank man told me, somewhat startled about it himself, that I had come second highest in the whole state with a score of 98. He said he didn’t expect that from a “Girl“.
He then told me the boy in the next cubicle had come third and he offered me a job, until I had my first baby at which point I must leave the bank.
I asked what my starting salary as a teller would be and he said, $60 a week.
I then asked what the boy next door, who came third, would get paid and the man said, with absolutely no apology, ‘Oh he’s a boy so he will get $90 a week.’

That’s right. He was going to get paid half again on top just for having a penis. Or let’s put it another way, I was going to get 1/3 less than him just because I was a girl and I had even beat him in their stupid test.

So I am glad daughters that you don’t need feminism, I’m glad you live in the 1st world but you are only 10% of the world’s population of women.
I’m glad you can voice your opinion because in many countries women aren’t allowed to have opinions, many women still die in child birth, many women are not allowed to work or drive cars even if they want to, many women are told what to wear and have no rights in a court of law, many women have no right to divorce or have their own money and many women are not educated simply because they are females.

I wonder if they feel the same as you. I wonder if they have signs saying they don’t need feminism?

I’m glad none of you want to be a Catholic Priest because women still aren’t allowed to do that. I’m glad you don’t aim to be the next prime minister of Australia because the last woman that tried that just about got burnt at the stake, I’m glad you don’t want to be safe in the streets at night, I’m glad you don’t want equal pay for comparable jobs or to be successful in business or politics because if you wanted those things you might feel you needed feminism to get them.

But really what it comes down to is that the reason you don’t think you need feminism is because a whole bunch of women before you have worn a whole lot of crap and fought a whole lot of shit so that you can feel like you don’t need feminism.

So why don’t you make some signs that say, ‘Thanks – job well done – we’ll carry the load from here.’

Dear Daughters and Sons – About the fine art of letters

I have made a new friend, they are always so good to come by and surprisingly difficult to find. This friend of mine is an amazing letter writer.
She started it, she began by writing me the most deliciously long and funny email from the other side of the world.

My first reaction was “Oh my god, what am I going to do; now I’ll have to write back – bugger it.’

And I wrote back a rather lazy, typical email, not unlike the ones we write hundreds of in the course of a normal day at work.

She wasn’t to be deterred by my crisp, short memo. Oh no.

She wrote me another, friendlier, longer email, complete with smiley faces, which despite my hardened, jaded attitude made me laugh.

So this time, slightly softened, I made a bit of an effort and wrote a paragraph and a half instead of just a paragraph and sent it back to her.

She continued with her friendly, old fashioned, what can no longer be described as emails but must be considered fully fledged letters like the pages my gran used to write, that just happened to be sent electronically and something in me shifted.

I thought, this woman’s emails are great. I really like getting them. They make me laugh and she writes them better than me and I’m supposed to be the writer.

So I made a bigger effort and wrote her a nearly proper letter.

And on we have gone.

And what have I learnt?
I have learnt that whilst we bemoan and wail about the loss of cultures that are threatened, we rarely attend to our own lost culture.
The art of letter writing has a long and distinguished history.
It is time to embrace it and use it as the wonderful tool it is for so many things;
Telling people they are great friends.
Telling people about what is really going on in your life.
Telling people you love them with all your heart and soul, with your bones and your being.

p.s. thank you Laura for teaching me how to write letters again (not emails)

Visit Em’s Den; http://petite28.wordpress.com

Dear Daughters and Sons – how to be happy for 50 years

Dear Daughters and Sons,
So we all look at those elderly couples that walk hand in hand down the street, completely comfortable in each others company, he in his hat men haven’t worn since the thirties, she in her floral frock and we turn and look at our partner and say, ‘I want that to be us in 50 years time. I want us to still be that in love.’

And we think that the elderly couple are really lucky to have had a life together that’s obviously been filled with loving, longing looks, continuous kindness, hot afternoon impetuous on the kitchen table sex, children and grandchildren.

But is this really the road to where we want to end up? Is this really the road to being that elderly loved up couple?

I think the road to being that couple is actually filled with fights that are resolved or forgotten, harsh words that are forgiven, tolerance, sleepless nights with children and grandchildren which make you far too exhausted for any kind of sex even a quick bonk and forgiveness and more forgiveness and tolerance and more tolerance.

So next time you look at that couple as he opens the door for her and gently guides her through, and then you look at your own partner texting on his mobile oblivious to you, who right at the moment you hate because he probably just did something really stupid like told your best friend you don’t really like her new partner which you told him in confidence, or spent all night up with his brother on the X box making you a game widow again, or asked you the unforgivable question – is it that time of the month – remember – that this is the road to being that elderly, totally in love couple walking down the street hand in hand with a smug smile of contentment on the sweet lined faces.

Dear Daughters and Sons – be proud of your mistakes

I complained to my son that it is really hard for me to watch my grown kids (including him) making mistakes and I worry about them all the time and he said,

‘But isn’t that what being a parent is – watching your kids making mistakes and not being able to do anything about it?’

Which makes you wonder why we bother to teach history at all.

We really don’t  learn from other peoples mistakes nor the mistakes made in history and stubbornly insist on making our own fresh set.

Each of us has to learn for ourselves that:

some soap looks exactly like white chocolate but doesn’t taste like white chocolate

hearts can break

words can hurt you

people say what they don’t mean and mean what they don’t say

cigarettes really are foul

wars do start over which side the bread is buttered (or whose god is bigger)

you mustn’t wipe your eyes immediately after putting on nail polish

not all relationships are good and should last for ever after

divorce hurts but you live anyway

you are becoming your parents whether you like it or not

you can survive most things

bad things happening to you don’t make you a bad person

most stuff is just dumb luck

Mind you, the real problem about worrying about my kids mistakes is that I am still making plenty of my own, bucket loads really, so with all my own mistakes to worry about, I don’t really have time to worry about theirs.

In true brilliant parenting –the kids are on their own  – where they should be really – because making their own mistakes is the only way they’ll learn – they sure as hell never listen to me

Dear Sons and Daughters – some crazy shit about how to stay cool.

Dear Sons and Daughters

The generation gap hit me today only it wasn’t a gap – it was a black hole in the space and time continuum.

I always thought I was pretty cool as far as my kids went. You know – a mother they didn’t have to be embarrassed by.

I like cool music like the laidback crooning of Led Zeppelin, the even more laid back Eric Clapton, the grinding sorrow of Gary Moore, I like Jet, Cat Empire and Mumford and Sons.

I didn’t think it was possible for my taste in music to be uncool because surely my generation took music to its edge. I’m mean my music sure pissed off my parents who declared it “sinful”, “evil” and all the other things you want parents to think belongs to your music as they asked why did I have to listen to Rod Stewart when there was that nice Rolf Harris and his wobble board.

But my coolness as a mother got a chink in it when along came Rap and Hip Hop – disgusting mind numbing stuff and the gulf opened.

Then today my son sent me a text that I couldn’t decipher and before I even knew what had hit me I was pulled into the cavernous black hole of eternal darkness where I would float for eternity  – we call it a generational gap.

He texted, “Crazy Shit Man but Whacked Hey”

And I didn’t have a clue what this means.

The language is not dissimilar to the 70’s so I would have understood – “Crazy shit man really cool” (meaning it’s really good) or “Crazy shit man really grossed me out” (meaning it’s really bad) or just “Some crazy shit man” (meaning anything).

But he meant none of this.

So I turned to my other kids who are all older. They suggested he meant,

“I think I lost my brain cells due to being hit by a cricket bat” or “I hit my head against a plate glass window and got a decent whack” or “the toilet at work is blocked.”

But none of the suggestions seemed right the right answer to the question I’d asked him which was, ‘So how was your first shift at work?’

And so being a supportive mother I teased them for growing older and showing the gap between them and their younger sibling.

The younger sibling finally translated for me and what he meant was:

“It literally rains McDonalds. I’m not even kidding. Bags of McDonalds drop down from the sky.”

Of course

I knew that’s what he meant. I’m cool still.

Dear Daughters – About Grains of Truth

Hot Property?
Hot Property?

Dear Daughter’s,

And so here is a Singlet that is for sale in Ice Design, Earlville, Cairns.

Do I really need to say anything?

It kinda speaks for itself.

I did say something to my daughter.

I said, ‘Don’t even think about it!’

Thankfully she said, ‘As.  If!’

Who is the idiot who thinks this kinda stuff is appropriate for teenage girls to wear – where are we? Last time I looked it wasn’t the middle ages.

Please aim higher than to be someone’s property.

Please, no matter how much you love him, don’t advertise yourself as his property.

Dear Daughters – don’t buy into this crap! Even if it’s presented as tongue in cheek because everyone knows there is a grain of truth to every joke.

Letters to Sons and Daughters – How to be a slut

Dear Sons and Daughters,

 

I was driving down Mulgrave Road with both my teenagers in the back of the car munching on chips and drinking slushies. They were discussing the other students at the school.

‘What about Jenna,’ said my boy

‘OMG she is such a slut,’ said my daughter.

‘She’s the sluttiest slut face ever,’ my son agreed.

There was a little more discussion along the lines of,

‘Well the whole school knows what a slut she is…..

At this point I put my foot on the brake and stopped in the middle of the busy road, all the traffic honked, glared and drove around us which I ignored. This was much more important. I turned and said,

‘What exactly makes this girl a slut?’

‘Oh well,’ said my boy, ‘she breaks the two year rule.’

‘The two year rule?’ I began driving again, much to the relief of the 3 kilometres of built up traffic behind us.

‘Yeah there’s a two year rule,’ said my daughter.

‘Tell me about the two year rule?’

‘Well,’ explained my son like I was really the most stupidest stupid person over 20 EVA! ‘The two year rule is that you can’t date anyone who is in a grade more than two years above or below your grade.’

‘You do realise,’ I said slowly so they could take it in, ‘that your father is eight years older than me. When I was 14 he was 22. That makes me – your mother – extra slutty.’

‘Oh but she doesn’t just break the two year rule. She’s also been out with three different guys this year.’

‘At the same time?’ I asked.

‘No one after the other.’

It was November.

‘So three guys in 11 months. And she’s how old?’

‘Fifteen,’ said my son, ‘she’s in between us.’

‘God I once dated three guys in the one day,’ I said, ‘What does that make me? Guys by your calculations nearly every girl in the world is a slut. Do you think that’s fair?’

Silence.

‘Okay,’ I said. ‘What about the boys that date these girls that are more than two years younger than them or who have dated three girls this year. Are they sluts too?’

Silence

‘No they’re Players.’

‘Ahh,’ I said, ‘Feminism has achieved such boundless equality for women.’

‘Are you being sarcastic?’ my son asked.

Letters to Daughters and Sons – True Lies

Dear Daughters and Sons,

True Lies:

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me – Ahh Bulls..t. Use sticks and stones to break me any day over Crushing, Heart Breaking, Words.

Once a cheater always a cheater – Not true! My ex-husband cheated on me and I on him (with a gorgeous cross dressing dope addicted hippie who looked like Sting) but I have never cheated on my second husband and never will. Cheating is a SYMPTOM not a CAUSE. (However my recommendation is that it’s better not to cheat because if you are splitting up, it only murkies the waters, and allows the other person to concentrate on your cheating rather than the relationship problems).

The Best things in life are free – Free my arse! The best things in life cost a packet. The best thing in my life is my kids and they say the average kid costs $200,000 to raise. Times that by 5 means without kids I could have been a lonely millionaire.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry. My daughter’s wall is plastered with cute little truisms like this one, accompanied by cute little pictures of cute little teddy bears with bandages on their arms. Problem is they are lie-isms. Love means very much saying you are sorry – a lot!

Especially if you are the bloke, because let’s be honest blokes – half the time you just don’t get what it is you’ve done wrong – and if you do get it you usually didn’t mean to be nasty and horrid – you just weren’t thinking – you say

which lands you in more hot water because – why can’t you think about your better half’s needs once in a while – not even thinking about us is as bad as thinking and doing the wrong thing on purpose – we say

– and well if you thought of that, you say, you wouldn’t be in trouble, but you have to think you’re not thinking to be able to rectify not thinking

and so it goes on and before you know it,  the hole is so deep you are half way to the centre of the scoring hot earth where you will surely be burnt to a crisp by the she-devil herself, so you might as well just say sorry and mean it and get on with being in love.

Karma will sort everything out in the end – More Bull….t Bad people get away with bad stuff all the time. The problem is that usually good people blame themselves and allow it to define them when bad things happen to them and bad people blame everyone else. Bad stuff doesn’t happen to you because you are bad. Bad stuff happens because bad stuff happens. Good people need to stick together.

The sad, sad saga of a garden pond and its 2000 visitors

This is the next episode of the sad, sad tale of my garden pond. When you left this story – the few hapless fish I had left, gasping for air at the bottom of my leaking empty pond, were now happily living in our bath.

One of the fish has gone slightly mad from the shift to his new accommodation and dashes so fast from one end of the bath that he backflips off the smooth bath end and hurtles towards the other end of the bath for the next back flip. He just keeps hurtling and back flipping like he thinks he’s a seal doing tricks.

My pond went back to the seller, a very nice seller called Limberlost Nursery – where they happily offered to reseal my pond. This took some time.

But as a belated Christmas present the pond returned and I built Pond Mark VI.

I made sure to spend time and sweat and swearing getting the base even by putting down pavers. Finally I put the pond on its stand of concrete blocks and filled it with water and then I left it to test for leaks. A couple of days later the pond was still filled with water.

Success.

But it was also filled with I would say give or take, 2000 Green Tree Frog tadpoles.

Now I love Green Tree Frogs. They are native. They are indigenous. They are endangered. When I see them I feel all gooey like watching an ad with babies and nappies all in soft focus.

I work with an elderly lady, named Ethel, one of the sweetest old ladies I know, she’s had a really rough life and is tough as nails and she is afraid of nothing other than being absolutely petrified of Green Tree Frogs.

One day I saw Ethel pull an apron off a hook and a green tree frog jumped out of the apron and splayed itself across Ethel’s face. Ethel screamed, so the frog, frightened by the racket, clung onto her face even tighter.

All you could see of Ethel was her huge brown frightened eyes; the rest of her face was covered by the poor scared frog clinging on for dear life.

They were both saved when I carefully pulled the trembling frog off her face and carried it outside.

I am thrilled the frogs have invaded my pond. I rang up Frog Safe and got friendly advice on how to look after them. I got Paw Paw leaves and put them in the food  processor and mushed them up and froze them to feed to my 2000 babies.

But because we live in a dengue area it is illegal to have a body of water without fish to eat the mosquito wrigglers. So I put one of our fish into the pond and it immediately started gobbling up tadpoles.  It only stopped to give me a big smile and thank me for taking it to Fish Smorgasbord.

I had to stop this senseless slaughter – so out it came and back into the bath.

So I painstakingly researched Australian fish that don’t eat frog tadpoles and purchased the recommended Pacific Blue Fish and Deep Water Creek Rainbow Fish and introduced them to the pond and my frog family. I watched for half an hour and the fish showed no interest in the tadpoles.

Success.

I was pretty happy about this and excited because some of the tadpoles are nearly frogs. I went to bed a satisfied woman – all my empty nesting urges sated.

The next morning I went out to check on my tadpoles.

But the pond is empty of tadpoles and all that remains are 16 very fat fish that have all signed up for weight watchers.

Letters to Daughters and Sons – Baggage only lasts 5 years

Dear Daughters and Sons who carry Bags,

Some of us carry baggage through our lives and some of us have massive moving trucks crammed full of tea chests.

It’s amazing what we think we can’t throw out and what we absolutely must hold on to for dear life.

Five years ago we packed up our home to move to the other end of the country. Thinking we’d be back in a year we sold everything we thought we could do without and put everything that was really really really important, that we absolutely had to keep and would simply die without – into storage.

Five years later and we are still at the other end of the country and so a few months ago we paid an outrageous sum of money to have those boxes of important items freighted from the southern end of the Country, where they patiently had waited for us to fill our lives with them again, up over the highways that run the length of the Australia, to us now living in the far north.

We filled our lounge room with the boxes of treasures from our past and with great excitement I opened the boxes. It was going to be just like Christmas. After 5 years I had forgotten what we had packed up and expected to find old friends and lost memories.

Instead I opened box after box of junk.

There are boxes of MacDonald’s toys that five years ago the kids cherished. Now the only thing they can’t live without is – no not their embarrassing mum – their smart mobile phones. There are boxes of stuffed toys and boxes of well – just crap – like easily replaceable cheap glass ware and board games with missing pieces. I can’t believe we got a second mortgage to move this stuff when most of it is headed straight to the OP shop.

The lesson is clear.

What is important to you now

what you think you just absolutely impossibly can’t live without or your heart will split open

what is upsetting you now and giving you sleepless nights that make your brain churn like a washing machine

will be forgotten in 5 years time

and replaced with new worries to keep you awake and new treasures to fill you with bliss.

Letters To My Daughters – Things I didn’t do

Dear Daughters and Sons,

So I mentioned today –  whilst out Christmas shopping with my daughter – to the nice young 30 something shop assistant – that I thought being in your thirties was the best time for a woman.

You are young and beautiful and full of energy but by your thirties you have a bit of wisdom so that you don’t pick the wrong men – well not so often anyway.

In your twenties you are still so eager to be approved of.

Forties I can’t comment on because cancer wiped out my 40’s and I was just trying to stay alive.

Fifties I am still going through and the other decades are ahead of me so I can’t comment on them either.

But thirties were brilliant!

‘You can have a great time in your thirties,’ I said.

And my 20 something daughter looked at me with exactly the same expression she had when she was that little 3 year old who trusted me with her whole life and said, ‘But you didn’t do anything in your thirties – because you had us – you were a mumsie’

‘Of course honey,’ I said, ‘every second weekend when you were at your fathers I just sat and waited for you to come back home

‘I never experimented in the kitchen to find the best biscuit recipe for dope cookies

‘I never went to parties in that short little school girl dress, with fishnet stockings (proper stockings not tights) and danced till 4.30 in the morning

‘I never lusted over Mark Kilpatrick until the lusting got so bad that no other guy could sate it

‘I never spent hours trying to sate my lusting for Mark Kilpatrick with other guys – because no matter how hard I tried they just weren’t him but I kept trying anyway

‘I never sat under the shade of the enormous gums at the edge of my dam, watching yabbies bubbles with my girlfriends, drinking champagne and eating freshly baked cookies, while we chatted and laughed about men and sex

‘I never went skinny dipping in that dam either

‘I never cranked up Fine Young Cannibals, drank Cointreau out of an enamel mug and slathered paint around canvasses till midnight

‘I never met Pete at one of those parties, nor invited him back to my place at 4.30 in the morning when finally my lusting for Mark Kilpatrick withered to a thread of nothingness

‘No honey I wasn’t a MILF

‘I never did any of those things and that’s what makes me such a good mum

Letters to my Daughters and Sons – Stuff I’ve stuffed up that you can do better

Like most mothers I want my kids (and all future generations) to be better, richer, healthier, happier and kinder than me and my generation.

To do be happier than me – you must learn from my mistakes.

Which you won’t do.

Because if the generations of the world have anything in common it’s our resolute determination to make our own mistakes, regardless of how often they’ve been made before.

There are many things in my life that I look back and think – Well I coulda done that better!

Some of the things I want you to do better than me – some rules to live by, things I should have done better:

  • I apologise for the many drafts of this post – never try to write when you have just had a general anaesthetic
  • When I had sex I wish I had only had sex with people I actually liked;  like my husband Pete who has the kindest heart of anyone I know and not just someone who was available and willing like the weedy guy that looked like an anorexic  Woody Allen and thought the measure of good sex was how many times he could do it in a 24 hour period, rather than the quality of what he was doing. So have sex with people you really do like.
  • I should have stood up for myself better. I know in my gut when I am really right about something but often just don’t trust ymyself. I have always blamed myself for everything that happens around me. But we are not responsible for other people’s bad behaviour (its taken me 50 years to learn this). We can’t change other people’s bad behaviour we can only change how we  respond to it.
  • I wish when I partnered up with someone, and then realised after six months that they treated me  badly – I didn’t then spend the next nine and a half years breaking up with them
  • When I got divorced I wish I had done it with dignity (even when or if the other party behaved like an arse)
  • When I got divorced I wish I had left the kids out of it – quite frankly parental bickering is about as interesting for kids as watching the beef stock sales results on Country TV
  • I wish I had found what drives me and committed to it wholeheartedly and didn’t think I was too old to start – From now on I am just going to think Susan Boyle.
  • I wish I had made some money while I was young so I had the finances to commit fully to what drives me.
  • If I had a problem I should have sought help and not felt bad about needing it. If you can’t find help keep looking till you do and don’t worry about what other people are going to think about you.
  • I wish I had the guts to say something to people who take their kids out to quiet adult cafes (except McDonalds, Coffee Club, KFC etc. i.e. places that are purpose built to be kid friendly)  when I am there trying to have some kid free peace and quiet. Kids don’t want to be in boring cafes or sipping babychino’s and I don’t think they’re cute when they are noisy and precocious because they are bored shitless and keep flinging food and tantrums in my direction.
  • Appearances do matter. I dressed like a hippy chick and then wondered why people thought I would be unreliable, into drugs and didn’t want to trust me with responsibility. Inside I was really a conservative Baptist girl who was very competent at my job.
  • I shouldn’t  have judged people by how they look as often as I have. I looked like a drugged out hippy chick but was really a conservative, articulate, competent Baptist girl.
  • I wish I was better at being friends with women; it’s hard to be friends with men unless they are gay. If they are not gay they will want to have sex with you because you are such good friends and bang goes the friendship.
  • I wish in my thirties I hadn’t flirted with other women’s men. It made the women hate me. Usually I didn’t flirt with other women’s men but I didn’t deter the men from flirting with me either.  I suppose the school girl dresses and knee high socks I liked wearing in my late twenties and early thirties didn’t help either. If you don’t discourage the men, or you dress like this on a daily basis, the other women will hate you.
  • Sometimes other women will just hate you – they are bitches.
  • Don’t expect other people to make you happy. You are responsible for your own happiness.
  • Life is a risky business. Take risks.
  • If you love someone tell them, if you hate your job find a new one, if you hate your town change towns.
  • Life really is too short to be unhappy
  • Again I apologise for the many drafts of this post – writing and general anaesthetics don’t mix

Letters to all Sons and Daughters – where to start?

Dear Sons, Fathers, Husbands – and daughters too

I am very pleased that my daughters take the lives they have for granted. So they should. Women should expect nothing other than the same opportunity to do anything and everything that men do and the fact that both my daughters take this for granted as their right, is itself a sign that the feminist movement of the 70’s and 80’s had some positive impact on the future for women. Women in the 70’s fought for equal pay and sexual freedom, for access to the pill and the right to be working mothers. It was a fight that was needed.

s my parents informed me that I better come down to earth and find something satisfactory to do as my education was to cease at Form 6 – (now year 12) – because they said, it was a waste of money sending a girl to University  because- again – I would just have babies.

I did what I was told and applied to the Commonwealth Bank for a cadetship. My parents were thrilled; it was more than they had hoped for me.

In those days a job in a bank meant a job for life if you were a man – or until you had your first baby if you were a woman. A bank job had prospects and security. I had to sit an exam and I passed and was called in for an interview. In the course of the interview the grey suited bank guy told me I had ranked second out of the state. The boy who came third was in the next booth being interviewed at the same time. The grey suit guy proudly told me I could start next week.

How much will my starting wage be? I asked.

$60 per week he said

How much will the boy next door get paid? I asked

$90 per week, he said.

So I did better than him but I’m going to be paid less? I said.

Well – you will go and have babies. We’ll only get a few years out of you. We get him for life, said grey suit man.

I walked out and tried applying to be a graphic designer/signwriter – but was turned down because I would have to climb up a ladder and everyone would be able to see up my skirt. I thought jeans would solve that problem but my prospective employer didn’t “trust girls who wear pants.”

Well my parents and the commonwealth bank were right. I did go and have babies. But did that mean I should get paid less for the work I did in the meantime – of course not, did it mean I shouldn’t get a tertiary education – of course not. So I paid my own way through uni.

Unfortunately I chose to do an art course which was less practical than doing a course in donut making and all I was qualified for at the end was waiting tables or cleaning. But I did learn how to empty a bong, how to make rabbit skin glue and how to stretch canvasses, I developed an obsessive crush on another art student who looked like Bryan Ferry and my art lecturer Gareth Sansom and I had deep and meaningful conversations about the cold war and went on even more meaningful marches against the bomb.

Not one to give up on uni I did a theology course next, thinking I would become a minister but instead I became an atheist but in theology classes I learnt how to question and think and had deep discussions with other students over vegetarian pizza about the future of the world ahead of us and how we could turn the status quo upside down and assist the poor and marginalised.

It was hard, still in the 70’s, for some girls like me to get to uni, to get a decent job, to get ahead. And even though I chose courses that stretched my mind and not my wallet it was more than worthwhile and I didn’t take it for granted.

But daughters  I hope you do take going to uni for granted. I hope you choof off to uni thinking nothing of it.  And if you don’t go to uni I hope you always assume you will have a career of your choice.

But whether or not you got to uni  is insignificance when compared to the problems women face in the rest of the world.

In Saudi Arabia they are discussing whether or not women can be trusted to drive a car. Women are not allowed to travel nor apply for work or education without the permission of a male guardian. A woman activist has been arrested for driving.

Does this not sound similarly like slavery?

Ahh but its cultural or religious people say.

Well slavery of African Americans was once considered a religious right too. Masters used holy verses to justify the keeping of slaves. Verses like these:

Ephesians 6:5:  Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.

1 Peter 2:18: Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

But any writing that supports the oppression of any other person is not holy and it is not sacred!!!!!!

And I would hope no one, not even right wing Christians would support slavery. So why do we turn a blind eye to the slavery of women? In the 80’s the world held sanctions against apartheid South Africa. Yet never does anyone suggest sanctions against nations that abuse their women.

Why is this?

I think it is in part because the rights of women enter every home in the world. So every man, every Son needs to make a stand starting with his very own home.

I have a wonderful men in my life. I have a husband who wakes me each morning of our married life with a hot pot of tea as a symbol of his love.

Even if we’ve had a fight.

If I wake up before he’s had a chance to make my tea he says,

‘Would you like hot tea or hot sex this morning?’

Then he sighs and says

‘I’ll go put the kettle on and comes back with my  steaming tea in its English china pot with the bone china tea cup sitting beside it.’

I have four amazing sons.

Each of these men is kind, compassionate and teaches me about tolerance which I’m not always good with.

And then there is Mrs Banks who in Mary Poppins sang: (I might have paraphrased here)

Singularly men are brilliant, kind and hot.

But collectively, when you look at men as a collective across the globe, there are serious issues.

Women are still excluded from decision making at best and oppressed in ways that should have the world in outrage at worst. Sometimes I think women have achieved very little and when I read about Saudi Arabia I feel women have achieved nothing and I worry for my daughters that they live in a world that preaches racial equality but forgets gender equality and I worry for my sons who need fair equal relationships with women for their own well being.

It is not the job of women alone to achieve equality. Women need equality because men as a collective refuse to share it.

I beg all sons and daughters: There needs to be a New feminist movement, a movement that is not overshadowed by personalities and fights for sexual freedom but a movement that fights for the basic essentials of women’s rights across the globe to not be slaves and it needs to be a movement with voices from both the sons and daughters of the world for all the sons and daughters of the world!

But I don’t know where we start.

Letters to Daughters and Sons – beware of fish – they will work their way inside

One day, a long time ago, last May actually. We bought our dream home in tropical Cairns.  The home was a Queenslander and we could see ourselves sitting on the back verandah sipping gin and tonic as we enjoyed the bubbling water in the back yard fish pond that we inherited with the house.

I’d never had fish before and thought I’d add a few extra inhabitants to the pond and chose some fat round friendly looking gold fish from the pet shop and lo and behold the fish already in the pond immediately attacked the poor hapless gold fish and bit off their fins killing them within an hour. I would have rescued the poor things except that I misjudged the nudging and nibbling of the other fish as fishy gestures of welcome.

But the dead fish got me suspicious about the alive ones. So I took a jar of the pond fish into the pet shop.

“Oh they’re native guppies,” said the sales guy, like he knew all there was to know about fish. I believed him.

So I googled native guppies to find out how to carefully look after them, seeing as they were native and found there is no such thing as native guppies. They are also called Mosquito fish but their real name is Gambusia and they are the rabbit of the rivers. I sent a picture of the fish off to Fisheries and Wildlife and they sent it off to a Gambusia Professor expert person who said, ‘Yes they are definitely Gambusia. Oh and by the way there is a nice little $10,000 fine if you keep them or give them to anyone.’

So I disposed of the Gambusia as instructed very sternly by Fisheries and Wildlife, by cleaning out the pond, which was black and obviously hadn’t been cleaned out since the Big Bang. I stood knee deep in mucky gooey – what I can only imagine was years of fish poo – handing buckets of murky smelly water to the kids to tip on the garden.

Finally the pond was sparkling clean.

In went new fish.

In went a brand spanking new bubble maker thingy to keep it sparkly and clean.

In went the Cane Toads (the rabbits of Northern Australia) that night whilst I was sleeping.

In the morning the water was green, due I am told to the high nitrate content of the Cane Toads wee and poo.

And the pond was filled with millions of Cane Toad eggs.

On the weekend, I stood in the murky Cane Toady water and handed buckets of it to the kids.

I filled the pond in with sand and dirt and stones.

I built a pedestal with bricks and concrete slabs 2 feet high so the Cane Toads couldn’t get in.

I bought a fibre glass pond and stuck it on the pedestal.

I bought new fish. The Cane Toads had eaten some of the others (I assume that’s why they were missing and not because they had left me for being a bad fish carer).

The new fibre glass pond cost me a fortune.

I bought pretty lilies to give the fishies shade.

I hung up a mosquito net to stop the fishies from being drowned in falling leaves

I put up an umbrella to shade them from the afternoon sun.

I began to love my fish.

The pond leaked.

It leaked everywhere and created a new pond around the base of the pedestal which immediately filled with copulating Cane Toads and their eggs.

So now the fishies are in our bath.

Pete (my hubby) says now that they have been spoilt and allowed inside – we’ll never get them back out again.

I am sorry this story has no meaning or words hopeful of wisdom. it is just frivolous story about how the fish ended up living in our bath.

the fishies that lived in the bath
the fishies that lived in the bath

Letters to My Daughters…. And Of Course Sons – Be Boldly Defiant!

It’s really easy when you are younger to have a blatant and boldly defiant disregard for culture. This is a good thing. It means that cultural practice is challenged by the young and that culture is a living, growing thing that isn’t static.

I think more than any generation that has come after it, my generation – the baby boomers – have let more bathtubs of cultural practice gurgle down the drain than any other. We ditched Sundays  full of unbearably boring church and replaced it with Sunday brunch. Not quite the same opportunity to develop community spirit and have a good gossip about the neighbours but much more tranquil.

We replaced women being pinched on the bottom at work, being called ducky by their managers (that’s what my dad called his secretaries anyway) and only being entrusted to make coffee, take dictation and answer phones, with a commitment on paper at least to equal pay and conditions.

We ditched the stigma of being an unmarried mother, an unmarried couple or divorced.

Some cultural practices in all Cultures are well past their overdue date.  These are any cultural practices that oppress any member of the population on the basis of culture or religion.

Some cultural practices need to be retained because – they are great! In my culture these include respecting elders, giving your seat up on public transport for elders (that means someone who is older than you, not just someone who has one foot in the grave already), pregnant women and women in high heels (– come on guys, if you wanna enjoy women’s legs help look after them and give up your seats because those shoes that make our legs look great are killers). Welcoming people into your home and treating them with special politeness whilst they are there, not borrowing money if it can at all be helped, not standing too close to other people in queues (us Aussies have loads of space and we treasure it) not eating more than your fare share at communal meals even if you are really really hungry.

And Christmas.

I was shocked when I was in USA that it was happy holidays this and happy holidays that, holiday cards, holiday trees, holiday presents, holiday babies (there are always more born 9 months after Christmas than any other time). Not a mention of Christmas.  A whole culture was being tossed down the drain with the holiday baby.

Respecting one cultural practice doesn’t mean negating and forgetting another.

Most days I am an atheist, some days I am an agnostic and some days I am a believer. Even on my atheist days I want my daughters and sons to love and know that Christmas is part of their Cultural Heritage.

I studied theology back in the day and I was told in lectures that “a holy spirit got me pregnant” was the common excuse of the rich powerful women, who used it a lot with their husbands who were away at war at the time of conception. Now some teenagers will copy anything a rich celebrity does, so Mary was probably an unwed Jewish youngster of 14 frightened and pregnant with enough nouse to know that if it worked for the rich bitches it would probably work for her too. It probably wasn’t a virgin birth and though Jesus had a very big impact on the world he might not have been the actual son of God.

But it doesn’t matter because those Christmas stories whether you believe them or not, are a big part of the cultural heritage of many people. The stories are about peace and reconciliation, about the power of birth and new starts to transform lives, the story of Christmas is about inclusion and of course – giving.

So daughters and sons and everyone, I beg you to hang on to Christmas for dear life (but not the church – it’s an institution that deserves nothing till it rectifies its past sins against women, children and gay people).

Go out there and be boldly defiant and challenge what needs to be challenged. Even though, like me, you might not be a Christian – wish everyone Happy Christmas anyway in honour of a great cultural practice and when Hanukkah comes around wish everyone that too in honour of the defiant few who sometimes, against inconceivable odds, win against the many.

Letters to my daughters – dream with one foot

Dear Daughters, Aunts, Friends, Mothers,

At any age it is often hard to know what to do with your life. You want to make the best of it given as you probably only have one.

No spares, no returns.

My mother wanted me to be a nurse so that when I produced children I could mend their broken knees.

If not a nurse, her next suggestion was a teacher because teachers know how to control children – or so she thought – and that would make me a better mother.

Well if not a teacher, her third option for me was, what is now called a P.A. (personal assistant) or even better E.A. (executive assistant) but back then was just plain old secretary. Her reasoning was that as a secretary I would make a better wife; I could look after my husbands business affairs, write his letters and pay his bills with the efficiency I learnt in secretarial school and with such efficiency there would still be time for all my other wifely chores.

But what do I want for you daughters of mine – I could spout all the airy fairy stuff about following your heart. Well I followed my heart like the hippy girl I was, smothered myself in acrylic paints and canvasses, spouted socialist lingo about money not having any meaning and traipsed off to all the marches against the nuclear bomb and all it did was keep me poor, happy but poor – and sometimes the poorness made me very sad.

I met boys with similar values and we had sex amongst the canvasses and were poor together. Then I managed to marry one of them, produced three kids, divorced, had lots of sex, remarried another kinder hippy (by this time heading towards middle age) and produced two more kids and got even poorer.

I thought money meant nothing. But its absolutely not true. If I regret anything, it is not taking the opportunity to make money when I was young. I should have followed my heart but perhaps also done a little teaching on the side. So whilst I want you to follow your hearts, make art and music and drama and love; I also want you to think about where the money is going to come from – as boring as that is.

It is important for a woman to have her own money!

And whilst money doesn’t buy happiness it does buy the things that make you happy, like freedom for holidays, art, movies, good food, travel and being able to pay the bills. So balance the money with the chasing the dream stuff.

The other important thing to remember is that you are never too old to start something new no matter what it is!!!!!

When I was eight I wanted more than anything to marry my sunday school teacher, he was sooo blond. But I thought I would have to wait until I was 16 and that seemed such an old age.

Then when I was 14 I wanted to marry our minister Alan Marr. I thought we were meant to be together for ever. I held on to this one for a good ten years but when I got to 22 the age I thought I should marry, he was 32 and I thought that was ancient – not  to mention he had married a very nice someone else in the mean time and I was pretty pee-ed off he hadn’t waited for me.

When I was twenty eight I wanted to study medicine but I thought I was too old as I wouldn’t finish my studies until I was the elderly age of 35.

At 40 I wanted to be a psychologist but as I wouldn’t finish the studies until I was 45 what was the point?

I thought I was too  old to write a blog but I am and now someone, or two or a few are reading it.

The point is that our perception of how old is old changes as we get older.

And the real point is that no matter what your age it is only the age of your body. It is not the age of you!

So go out there and conquer and let nothing stop you!

I’ve got a job now but I am also going to chase that painting career I wanted back when I was 16 and my mother said “Don’t you dare start dressing like one of those artist people!!!” which is exactly how I’ve always dressed.

Letters to my daughters – especially the one who is 16 – don’t rush

Dear Daughters,

All global daughters. My youngest daughter is 16. She thinks I have forgotten. It might have been the drug dazed 70’s ….But I remember well – those high high wedges we tottered around on covered by our maxi dresses and big floppy hats over even bigger hair. Those guys with their long hair that blowed in the breeze like hero’s from Game of Thrones, those tight tight denims that just covered their tiny arses and draped on the ground with the flower embroidered bell bottoms, those skin glo-weave shirts that clung to every muscle on their chests.

My mother told me if I did anything with the boys she would know – and I stupidly believed her. If I told my daughter that she’d laugh at me. My daughter – just like all beautiful young girls is gorgeous, she bubbles, she skips when she walks, people are drawn to her eager for life eyes and her gentle giggle. The boys hang around her like kids hanging around the fairy floss machine at a fete.
“Oh” she says to me all sunshine and naiveté, ‘They just wanna be friends.”
“Oh honey,” I say “really?”

I have thirty years of experience of trying to be friends with guys and I can honestly say I ended up having sex with all of them! Men are wonderful but men are unable to separate friendship from sex because men are unable to separate anything from sex most of the time.

I tried to be friends with the german café owner and we had desperate sex on the café tables
I tried to be friends with a fellow student at art school and I ended up doing life modelling for him – enough said
I tried to be friends with a fellow parent at kindergarten and we ended up having friendly sex in the park while the kids were at kindy
I tried to be friends with a cross dressing client when I was a social worker and we still ended up having sex and he was wearing my clothes
I had sex with them because they were needy and I hate to seem uncaring and because they were friends and I felt warmly toward them and because at the time I couldn’t see the harm in it.

So now I say to my daughter, “Be careful, look after yourself because when you give yourself sexually you give a little of your soul too. Don’t be too eager – don’t think you will miss out if you don’t hurry in. Wait for him, wait for the ones that are good enough. Treat yourself and him with respect AND demand it back from him or dump him.”

If he puts you down – dump him!
If he tries to control you – dump him!
If he beats you – dump him!
If he uses anything as an excuse for superiority and that includes religion or culture – dump him
If he’s rude to your friends or family – dump him
If he won’t stick up for you – dump him

I had to wait until I was 33 for real love to find me but it did. But I truly think the secret was that I wasn’t looking for it. By then I was happy in my own skin and in my own space. Now when I look at my husband, he’s an old man. Gone is that thick jet black hair that hung to his elbows, gone is his height and the tight tight pants. He wears reading glasses now and his hear is grey – but I truly still think he is really hot!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/10463976/Casual-sex-linked-to-depression-and-suicidal-thoughts.html

Welcome to all women who are or will one day be 50

Dear Women 50 and over or who will one day be 50

I am a woman. I have recently hit 50. Well its a bit less recent than I like to admit. For the last three years I have been under the impression that I was 51 until a friend recently informed me that she was 53 and I am a year older than her. Ahhhhh!!!!! 54 is so close to 55 and not as far away from 60 as I would like.

At this point I should make it clear that I am not afraid of growing old. There is only one other option to growing old and that is to die and I nearly very did when I was 40 and I didn’t enjoy it very much at all. I determined then and there I would never fight growing old. Growing old I saw was a Gift not afforded to everyone. I thought I would always feel this way having narrowly escaped death at 40 but ….

But I’m not sure I like growing older either. So what have I found out about being over fifty. Well this is the list:

  • men no longer let their gaze linger on me as walk down the street instead they don’t even see me and their heads quickly turn to take in the 20 and 30 somethings.
  • the only men who flirt with me now are so old and decrepit they have urine stains on the front of their trousers.
  • No one and I mean no one values my opinion, not in the workplace anyway, its always “why don’t we just hear from some of the younger staff present” and I think my kids are only being polite or humouring me and pretending to listen to me.
  • the day I turned 50 my body betrayed me and my eyes were “No you’re fifty now so I need bifocals, yep definitely need daggy bifocals”
  • sleep looks good after 9.30pm
  • a good pot of tea looks more attractive than sex
  • most films are boring and are either plot A with a car chase and shoot out or plot B with boy girl meets, boy girl fight, boy girl end up happily ever after at LA International after the boarding gate has closed and he has forced his way illegally onto the plane which is held up on the runway so he can declare his love.
  • its really hard to make new friends when you are over 50 as most people have their “friend set”
  • its lonely over 50 and there are a lot of 50 + women at the pokies
  • my body is betraying me and my waist has thickened without even giving me notice of its intention to do so

At my age my Gran was busy being a Gran. But these days lots of 50 + women are grandchildless and still feeling in their prime despite the bifocals. That’s me.

Fifty or not I am determined to:

  • meet other women which is why I have started this blog so write to me please
  • give up or control how much I go to the pokies from boredom and loneliness
  • be an attractive 50+ that men under 105 might want to still take a glance at before moving onto the 20 and 30 somethings
  • get a trendy pair of bifocals
  • fight my body and lose weight
  • make this part of my life as important as any other part of my life

Join me