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 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.

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 – 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.