Monday, November 7, 2016

Cutting corners

I despise formal exercise. DESPISE it. Funny, because in my late teens and for most of my twenties, I loved a good gym session or workout class. In the early nineties, I started with step classes, then I tried mixing it up a bit with the occasional cardio-funk class (which was more like a dance class than anything else - ie, FUN)!

Not long after our move from Perth to Sydney in the mid-nineties, Mr A and I joined a gym. I continued my step classes for a bit there, but then turned to cardio and weights workouts until I realised I preferred the structure of classes. Circuit classes were my workout of choice - I could move from station to station doing various exercises and before I knew it, the hour was up. Perfect.

After the birth of Eldest Son, my only form of exercise for a long time was walking. I did a LOT of walking with him, taking him out in the pram most days, and that pretty much continued once Middle Son came along two years later. My arms maintained their tone due to all the lifting I did with my babies. In the car, out of the car. In the bath, out of the bath. In the cot, out of the cot. In to the high chair, out of the high chair. You get the picture.

However, after Youngest Son was born, time was of the essence and conflicting sleep times coupled with Eldest Son commencing school meant that the time to exercise became less and less accessible. Before too long I realised that my body wasn't returning to my pre-pregnancy weight like it had after my first two sons were born. What a shock that was. I was always one of those annoying people that could eat pretty much anything they wanted and never gain a single ounce of weight. Not anymore, people.

I tried joining a gym once after all three boys were in school, but I didn't like it. It wasn't me anymore. There's nothing more boring to me than working out in a gym amongst other sweaty people - it's just not fun and I found the hour I was there dragged along. I soon realised that I'm not a 'formal exercise' kinda gal. Not anymore, anyway. When I'm exercising, I don't like it to feel like I'm exercising, you know?

So, I tried other stuff. Like a ladies tennis clinic. I'd always loved playing tennis and always, in truth, dreamt of playing weekly tennis once my munchkins were all in school. After our move to the northern beaches in 2013 however, my tennis playing soon fell by the wayside. I had intended to join a local club (there's a great tennis club right by the beach I coveted - location, location, location), but getting a spot in one proved more difficult than I realised.

However, I was also playing weekly netball by then too and decided to keep that up. Which, at first, I did until, that is, I hurt my ankle and started to get some pain in the other one. (Hello, forties...!) I wasn't keen on injuring myself any further and besides, by then our team had changed and we'd moved to another comp where the really competitive netball players came out to play. I was there for fun - and at first it was fun - but I soon realised that perhaps not everyone else took it quite so casually as I did. Five minutes in to our very first game in the new comp, one of our players went down, hitting her head as she did. I immediately stopped, as did most of our team, but a player on the other team, after seeing our team mate fall, ran past our fallen player and shouted, 'PLAY ON!' Well, okay then. I'm out.

These days, my workouts include walking the dog and SUP - both of which feel more like enjoying life than exercising. When I can't do either of those though, I sometimes do The 7 minute Workout - a high intensity workout consisting of exercises you can do at home (I use the app on my phone). I try to do at least two of the workouts at a time (so, 14 minutes in total). I love that it's quick and NOT in a gym. But of course, getting outside is my preference. (And on rainy days, I can walk on our treadmill at home - but that's definitely my last resort option!) Oh, and I still dance in my kitchen like it's a night club on occasion too. (Thank you, 90s Digital Radio Station!)

I like my new 'workout' routine. It feels a bit like I'm cutting corners, which actually pleases me no end. Life's too short to spend it in a smelly gym. :)


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Internet Rules

This past week, there has been a war or words brewing on the interwebs between a couple of Aussie bloggers. Apparently.

I say 'apparently' because, to be honest, I've only read a couple of Facebooks posts and blog posts on it - I haven't read the original post that one blogger wrote that the other responded to, creating what many are referring to online as 'a shit-storm'.

It made me realise how much it isn't my world anymore. Back in my Mummy Mayhem days, I'm sure I would probably have been on top of it, perhaps even involved (respectfully) in the conversation. (And for the record, I believe everyone should be able to express their personal opinion on anything, so long as it is done respectfully.) Not anymore.

A long time ago, I wrote a blog post on MM about blog comments and how they can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Although feedback, communication and interaction can be a great thing in the blogging and social media world, it also opens the opportunity for some to take advantage of that and get, well, nasty. You see, it's easy for people to hide behind their computers and express an opinion they'd never ever probably express in public, face-to-face. Especially those who choose to comment anonymously, or have very little (if any) kind of public profile.

To be honest, I think people often makes this stuff a hell of a lot more complicated than it has to be. I have my own set of rules when online:

1. I don't have to read EVERYTHING on the Internet
If I generally don't like what a certain blogger/writer writes, then I don't read what they write. Simple. This past year, I have unfollowed a handful of Facebook pages because, generally, I disagree with most of what they write. I don't see the point in continuing to read stuff that is only going to elevate my blood pressure!

2. Any comment I make, I have to be 100% certain I want to make it
Any comment I make has to be one I'd happily make in person, and would be comfortable seeing quoted up on a billboard with flashing lights surrounding it, positioned beside a busy highway. It's not always the popular comment, and I may disagree with someone (RESPECTFULLY), but I stand by it. 100%.

3. Don't engage with trolls/haters - Ignore, ignore, ignore
This is the thing that really bothers me - people who give too much time and attention to trolls and haters. I know it's sometimes hard to not take things personally, and in the past on MM I had a couple of posts that became unintentionally controversial and, in turn, attracted some rather, er, interesting comments/direct messages on Twitter/emails towards me. But you know what? I owned what I wrote, I dealt with those commenters as respectfully as I could, and ignored the rest. Engaging with people like this only emboldens them, because for the most part, they're looking for attention. They will also, more than likely, not see your point of view anyway, so why waste your breath? As for those who just make hateful, nasty, negative comments about you - and you don't even know who they are - block/report/disengage/delete. Cut them. Easy.

4. Sometimes walking away is the best option
Every now and then, I come across a post that I disagree with quite passionately, but when I think about it, I realise there's no point commenting. I ask myself, How necessary is my opinion here? Walking (or clicking!) away is sometimes the best idea. Same applies to people who may reply to a comment I have made on a post in a negative way. Sometimes I reply to their replies a couple of times if I think it could be beneficial and/or necessary, but if I feel the person is just looking for a fight, and appears to not be very educated on what is being discussed in the first place anyway, I just stop replying. There's a saying I remind myself of all the time that Mr A has always said: If you get in to an argument with an idiot, then you are the idiot. 

5. Ignore attention seeking
You know those posts on Facebook that people sometimes make, like, 'I can't take this anymore'? Unless you know that person, and know that they wouldn't normally make posts like that and so, perhaps, really need your attention, then just IGNORE. You know these people. We all have them on our social media feeds - they constantly like to make vague posts/tweets etc (known on Facebook as 'Vaguebooking') to induce comments like, 'What's wrong, honey?' You're not helping them by replying.

Sometimes, life - especially online - only has to be as complicated as we make it, you know?


Sunday, October 16, 2016

The tale of the lap-dancing spider

* This is an edited re-post from my previous blog, Mummy Mayhem

Above is a photo of a Huntsman Spider that happily nestled itself in my sliding door the other day. As soon as the weather gets warmer here in Oz, it really is only a matter of time before one of these charming, large spiders come crawling in to your home and settle themselves somewhere in your house. 

Often you find them high on a wall towards the ceiling (they don't like vibrations, hence they usually position themselves far away from the floor), and, unfortunately, they seem to often like the powder room. By the time you realise it's there, it's too late: you're mid-wee, and you have no option (especially if you've given birth - three times) to finish and get the hell outta there. You keep one eye on your little friend, willing for it not to MOVE or, God forbid, JUMP (as they sometimes do), until you can make a haste exit from the room, vowing never EVER to go in there again.

I've had to call in Mr A's services on occasion to get rid of a Huntsman on our wall. His method is the old empty-ice cream-container-over-the-top with a piece of paper slid underneath, captured and then dumped back in to the garden. I've tried this method myself in the past, but couldn't even get the container over the spider without hyperventilating. I prefer the high pressured vacuum cleaner method myself. Ssssuuuuuck! Gone. *dusts off hands*

However, these massive and ugly creatures of God are smarter than you might think. One time, in our old apartment, Mr A humanely removed a visiting Huntsman with his container trick one evening, taking it down three levels to release it in to the garden, only for me to find it BACK the next day in the EXACT SAME SPOT it was captured from the night before! Well, ok, I can't prove it was the exact same spider, but really, what are the chances of that happening? I was convinced (still am) that the spider was messing with my mind. But I won. I used the vacuum cleaner that time. Take that, Huntsman.

But the worst meeting I ever had with a Huntsman was many, many years ago back in Perth after I collected the mail from the letterbox. I pulled out a nice little pile of store catalogues, took them inside and got comfy on the couch eager to sort through them. I arranged them neatly on my lap, slowly flicking through each one - leaving my favourite until last: the Target catalogue. I took my time, relishing each page, making a mental note of all I needed to buy in their latest sale, and then, as I turned over the last page, sitting on the back was the biggest, hairiest, scariest HUNTSMAN SPIDER I had ever seen!!!

I instantly THREW the catalogue high in to the air, leaping up as I did, and screaming for good measure. Then I ran around the house, frantically running my fingers through my hair in case the spider had landed in it, then promptly ripped off my clothes down to my just my bras and knickers. 

Finally satisfied the spider was not on me, I shakily fetched the vacuum cleaner, determined to get rid of the lap-dancing Huntsman.

As I positioned myself, having finally located the pest behind the couch where I had been sitting, Mr A walked in. He smiled - a sort of, Alriiiiight, I'm gettin' me some action kind of smile until I threw him a look of despair, and in an incredibly abridged version of the events that had just occurred (because time was of the essence), explained what had happened. Mr A took over. I insisted he suck the little bugger up, and that particular time, he obliged.

Note to all Huntsman Spiders: Don't mess with me. Me, and the vacuum, are at the ready. (Or, at least - and preferably - Mr A will be.)


Friday, October 7, 2016

Friends like these

I took the boys away down to the Southern Highlands of NSW with a friend of mine and her two boys last week for the first week of the school holidays. I've never done a trip like that before, ie without Mr A but with a friend instead. It was great - all our boys get along so well. My friend managed to find a house that had its own tennis court with a basketball hoop. Although the weather was pretty cool at times, the boys didn't care - they spent a lot of time out on that court. One day in particular was so sunny, and my friend and I sat underneath a pergola covered in vines and sipped coffee while the boys alternated between tennis and basketball. There's nothing I enjoy more than a chinwag with a beautiful friend while sipping on a cappuccino. Especially an uninterrupted one.

We did 'farm stuff' too, like feed the sheep in the hazelnut orchard, and take long walks in hope of spotting local kangaroos (we did) and to check out the cows, all while dodging animal poos galore and large wombat holes. Then there was the time we took a rather disastrous bush walk. We accidentally chose one that was close to a main road - during the walk we could hear traffic and spot local houses! Then less than ten minutes in, Eldest Son spotted a snake in the grass (that looked disturbingly like a brown snake - you know, just the second most venomous land snake IN THE WORLD) and promptly stopped to excitedly take a photo of it before sending it out to friends on Snapchat (as you do). My friend and I couldn't get out of that bush fast enough, and it didn't help that our boys were teasing us by making, 'Look - a snake!' comments, causing us to squeal and run through the remainder of the walk until we (thankfully) hit a clearing. Having decided after some lunch to take the nearby access road back to our cars instead of risking another meeting of the snake, Middle Son -  playfully chased by one of my friend's boys - managed to run straight in to a huge mass of mud, completely drenching his (only) pair of sneakers, and covering the back of his clothes in said mud in the process. *sigh*

My friend's beautiful eldest son offered the t-shirt off his own back for Middle Son to wear, and wore his mum's spare long-sleeved top instead so we could continue on to the beautiful surrounds of Milton Park (with Middle Son squeezed in to Youngest Son's thongs we thankfully found in the car) - a nice change of pace for us after our short, yet eventful, bush walk.

The biggest bonus of our boys amusing each other was that my girlfriend and I got to do a lot of talking. Whenever we get on the phone for a 'quick' chat, it's not unusual for a whole hour to pass. Even if we've already spoken to each other earlier in the week. We stayed at the farm for three nights and every night we chatted for hours and hours, warming our toes in front of the fire, sipping white wine and not once struggling with anything to say. We've been friends for almost twenty years now - we became friends pretty much from the moment she joined the bank where we both worked (where did the time go?). We attended each other's weddings and celebrated the birth of our children and supported each other through the death of our parent(s). (She lost her father just months after I did.) She remains one of my dearest friends today.

While we were down at the farm, the first anniversary of my dear Mum's death came around, and that morning I found a beautifully wrapped gift in my bedroom with a card attached. My friend had written some beautiful words of comfort for me, causing tears to well in my eyes - partly due to the memory of Mum's passing, of course, but also in recognition of the incredibly thoughtful gesture by my friend. I carefully unwrapped the shimmery, pink paper to find a beautiful candle inside.

As I write this, on the day of my mother's funeral held a year ago today, the candle is burning beside me in memory of her, thanks to my gorgeous friend.

I'm lucky to have a number of really good friends in my life. So lucky. There's nothing quite like a good friend, is there? And this one is one of the best. :)


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

One year ago

On this day a year ago, I said goodbye to my dear Mum. I think I've done pretty well this past year. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've definitely had my moments, but in general, I've both accepted and coped fairly well with Mum's death. Better than I did my dear Dad's, in truth. With Dad, I thought I was over the worst of my grief around the six month mark at the time, but looking back, I was fairly consumed by grief for a good year, perhaps more. It wasn't obvious grief. I wasn't breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably or anything, but it was grief-related, that's for sure. I've learned that grief presents in different ways sometimes. After Dad died, I spent a lot of time looking back on my past, especially my childhood, teens and late teens - even my early twenties - basically when I lived with my parents. I questioned decisions I made and friendships I'd formed and lost. I analysed past relationships. I saw the bigger picture. It's difficult to explain, but essentially I analysed stuff a lot. No stone was left unturned in my mind. Sometimes, that was rather taxing emotionally. I've always been a bit of an over-thinker, and thinking about everything became overwhelming at times.  

Then the day finally came when I realised that not only had I stopped analysing everything so much, but that I could also think about Dad and not feel sad anymore; instead I could smile at the memory of him. Embrace today, not live in the past. Corner turned.

However, within a month or two of reaching that inner peace with losing Dad, I found myself flying to Perth to watch my Mum die. I braced myself afterwards, assuming I would react much the same as I had after Dad's death. I even warned my boys of what was to come, 'Some days, I might just seem in a bad mood and you won't be able to work out why because I'll get upset at everything - it just might be because I'm missing Grandma, okay?' In fact, I assumed it might be worse. I was close to both parents, but my Mum and I always had a very special relationship, a particularly strong bond.

Yet, what followed sort of surprised me. Following Mum's death, I found myself looking more to the future than re-living the past, and I guess that may have a lot to do with the fact that there is a sense of calm knowing that my parents are together again - and with my sister, Valda. As they say, it is the circle of life. We all die one day, so it's important to embrace life and enjoy it until that day comes, right? If you want to do something, do it. If you want to feel something, feel it. Look back if you want to - sometimes looking back is the only way we can move forward - but don't forget to look ahead. There's so much more to come, am I right?

Certainly, I feel I have probably embraced life more so over the last year than perhaps I have in the past, or at least a very long time. I'm getting out in the sunshine more, writing more, living more, appreciating more. I have my down days, yes, but all the other days are pretty damn good.

Mum would be proud.

Love and miss you, Mum.