Back to school

Is it just me or are the summer school holidays wayyyyyyyyyyy toooooooooo loooooooong?

I love my kids. They are funny and cuddly and curious and smart. But after just over six weeks or so they really do begin to get under your skin. The bickering. The boredom. The relentless barrage of questions. Unless you have a bottomless wallet or live near the beach it is hard to keep the little darlings entertained in the manner that they demand. There are only so many trite Hollywood cartoon flicks that I can sit through without gagging. I don't do theme parks. EVER! The museum was okay for fifteen minutes...art gallery was good until 'someone' reached out to touch the Picasso and then security all but popped us on the spot!

We read so many books. For the record, I hate Zac Power and his little spy gadgets. Richard Newsome's 'Billionaire's Curse' and follow up books were a much more entertaining choice and I'm not just saying that because he's an old mate....oh okay...it was a little nepotistic product placement. We've watched so many DVD's. How excellent are those new oovie Hoyts kiosk DVD machines? I have one 100 metres from my front door. It has become a sacred place.

We had a couple of days grace with holidays at Nan's Surfers Paradise home. We survived the great Christmas debacle without too much grief. One birthday. New Year's Eve. Spanish family guests. A heat-wave and floods. When the seven year old suggested he might enjoy 'home-schooling', I threatened to wash his mouth out with soap!!

But watching the little critters in their freshly pressed green uniforms, filing out the door with a boot load full of crisp new books and marker pens and pencil cases and glue sticks....made my heart sing.

Ten weeks before the next holidays. I am spoiling myself with a day in bed today, being waited on by my personal Barista Extraordianire....the barista is a multi-tasker who has just done the washing up, made the beds and tackled two loads of laundry...Perhaps my slave expects to get lucky....well the kids are out of the house and we have the place to ourselves.....

I really am glad the school holidays are over. Like, really, really, really glad.

Australia Day

I'm a little uncomfortable about leaping head-first into Australia Day celebrations because ....let's face it'.....it not only marks the day the whities landed on solid ground but also the day that the black fellas had their sacred ground invaded. Life only got better and better for those early colonists, while our Aboriginal hosts have seen a serious deterioration of quality of life. It might be more culturally sensitive to move Australia Day to the second Monday in March which commemorates Commonwealth Day and then at some time in the not too distant future we might be able to have our own Independence Day after becoming a republic.

Most of us in this country came from somewhere else. We all started out as boat people. Australia is a nation of tourists who put down their bags and decided to stay. And why wouldn't you want to? It's a pretty fantastic place. Best beaches in the world. The Barrier Reef. Great waterways and sweeping, majestic deserts. Sunsets of fire. A climate that feels like your favourite, most comfortable jacket.

We are a laid back, relaxed and peaceful mob. Perhaps a little too apathetic sometimes but that's better than being a nation of hot-headed, aggro, gun-toting maniacs. We drink too much beer and eat too many pies. None of us gives much of a damn about politics. Our leader is a feisty red-head. We came up with "Neighbours' and gave the world Kylie Minogue, INXS  and Mel Gibson. We have more deadly creatures than Africa and some really weird critters such as the platypus. We're either flooding or on fire.

But it has to be one of the best countries to be born in these days and I'm grateful for that. My children have a good life in the land of OZ. Good public schools, Medicare which provides free health services,. Did I mention the beaches?? Bondi. Bronte and Byron Bay. Sydney is a sexy city. Tasmania has some incredible forests. Kakadu National Park is like visiting another planet.

Improvements to my mind would be - a new flag, a farewell to the royal family (although I do have a thing for  Prince Harry),   more compassion toward the refugees arriving in boats, more tolerance and support for the most disadvantaged members of society (although our welfare system does beat the pants off most other Western nations). We should embrace gay marriage and stamp out the racism and sexism that is still way too prevalent.

Today...I shall crack open a beer and eat a Skippy the bush kangaroo burger. Nobody really puts shrimps on a barbie...we don't even know what shrimps are....here we call them prawns.

I'll put some Cold Chisel on the music box and enjoy the sound of heavy rain in the background.

I'll raise a toast to some super Aussies who have moved on - Steve Irwin, Bob Barrett, Victor Chang, Slim Dusty, Michael Hutchence, Barnum Barnum, Peter Allen, Bryce Courtney and 2/3 of The BeeGees.

Safe Australia Day but remember it was also Invasion Day....

Weighing in on the David Koch Tit-Gate.

It seems unthinkable that we are even having this lame old conversation again, but unfortunately some complete morons in society still think it is heinous for a woman to breast-feed her baby (as nature intended) in public.

As a woman who has suckled five children for a total of six years and who has a DDD rack, I think I have earned the right to discuss this issue from the point of view of a mother who fed my children from my body because that is how we give our children a great start in life and I did it wherever I needed to.

What is it with men and boobs, eh? From the age of twelve they can't wait to touch one and turn that nipple like a radio dial until some poor girl squeals 'ow, stop it!' Perhaps mothers wean their boys too early or too late and leave them with boob issues but ....really ...David Koch ....sometimes I think you should swallow your megaphone instead of hollering dumb stuff into it! His tweet that discretion was 'common courtesy to others' makes me wonder what sort of a person could be offended by seeing a woman feeding her child?? Discreet or otherwise. We all gooo and gaaa at cute pictures of animals suckling and joeys crawling into their mother's pouches but human women should hide under the nearest bridge or lock themselves away so as not to offend and disturb polite society??  

You think Liana Webster should have been more discreet at the public pool while nursing her child, do you, Mr Koch? I think you need to be a bit more discreet about sticking your nose in other people's business. You weren't there...you didn't see it....you didn't see pictures of it....you've never been to that pool, you didn't know who was there at the time and all in all....you don't know what you are talking about.

I have seen some pretty disgusting things at public pools. People wearing bathing suits ten sizes too small for them, for a start. I saw a grizzled scrotum hanging out the side of a middle-aged man's budgie smugglers....that was no budgie but a buzzard....and that did not make the news....I have seen a couple re-enact a scene from Debbie Does Dallas....it was Casey and Kylie doing the Clem Jones Centre and it wasn't pretty but someone complained and they moved back into the water to continue there. I've seen kids of three given cans of coke to drink and a father slap his little girl for farting out loud. Seriously. That sort of crap is offensive. Pukishly offensive. A mother feeding her baby should elicit warm, fuzzy loved up feelings and if someone is offended or worse.....aroused...that is THEIR sick problem.

When a little innocent baby needs food, it needs food. That's the beauty of having a portable thermos. Mum has it on tap....ready to go at the first hungry squeal...it's sterile and pure, nutritious and the perfect temperature.

News flash, Mr Koch. Boobs are there for one reason and one reason only. To feed babies. They are mammary glands, purposeful and cuddly too. They are not there for you to ogle or feel disgust toward. They are your issues. Mostly, in a sexual context, we let you men fondle them because it makes you feel good. After breastfeeding a few children they lose their novelty for us. .

We are all very vocal these days about how we should be teaching boys not to rape rather than having to teach girls how to avoid rape.

I think we also need to teach boys that breasts are a natural and necessary body part and to appreciate them as such instead of teaching women to feel ashamed of doing what is their God-given responsibility. If young boys see boobs being used for something other than hanging out of a string bikini - it might go a long way to helping young men to see women as more than just two dimensional sex objects. They might see them for the incredible life-givers that they are. They might realise that boobs are attached to real women....women like their mothers....and that boobs are a special part of all women, not just Pamela Anderson and that they can play more challenging roles than just straining from red swim-suits.

Perhaps Kochie should design a black cone of discretion, like one of those pop up tents, that women can hide themselves in whenever they need to nurse their babies. Black tents of discretion.

I have a feeling though, that discretion will be the last thing on the minds of the irate nursing mothers who descend on the Sunrise television set tomorrow with their femme bots packed for a show-down!!!! I'll be watching that one and cheering them on.





Post New Years Resolutions

Okay. I had grand plans for 2013 and I still do. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the first half of January was a blow out. A hang-over from 2012. But that is to be expected after Christmas and New Year. If you brake too suddenly you'll get whip-lash!

But we're well and truly into the new year and I'm ready to rock and roll the health kick thing.

Had my thirtieth school reunion last week end (30??? 30???). I had been warned by others that a 30th would be depressing because everyone would look so old and unrecognizable. I was pretty darn self-conscious about being judged against that teeny weeny teenager I once was.

But I was actually pleasantly freaked out by how little anyone had changed. In fact, most looked a darn sight better with thirty years under their belt. It showed me how little a few lines around the eyes or cuddle padding mattered. We were all the same spunky adolescents we once were but with a knowing glint in our eye that comes from living and a smile that says....we made it. Life gets better as you get older. I believe that!

So now that the insane wine head-ache from that shindig is over, I am ready to boot camp my arse into shape.

Started this morning. Up at six. Power walk. Chilli and garlic egg-white omelette and green tea for brekkie. Did an upper body weights session with a buddy, followed by a cold shower (alone).

I will now bang out an article for somewhere and begin my new book, having just jetted off my latest manuscript to my agent. No point agonizing over its fate....I'll just focus on the next project....either a Dan Brown, theological thriller or a Stephen King, femme horror. I shall meditate on that now. Playing God or the Devil? Hmmmm.

I will set the goal of writing four thousand words a day. It's school holidays so that may be a stretch but as I say to the kids....'If Mum's tapping, don't come a'yapping.' They know to leave me alone when I'm hunched over the laptop like a possessed creature, fingers burning a trail of steam as I hammer out words like Morse Code.

I'm going to exercise like Madonna, eat super foods like some guru on a mountain-top and write like a mad woman. I've got seven seeds of stories that I'd like to plant this year. That's some ambitious gardening.

'Early to bed, early to rise, write like the devil and advertise!' That's my motto for 2013.

And hence....when the fortieth school reunion comes around (God help us...not really sure about that one)....I'll still be able to kick up my heels and enjoy the company of great mates.  

Riding my Crazy Tiger



Hi I’m Nikki and I have Bipolar. I don’t refer to it as a disorder because sometimes it serves me quite well and while depression is commonly referred to as ‘the black dog’, I have given my bipolar the moniker, ‘the crazy tiger’. I have black stripes and they can be dismal but the rest of the time I’m flaming red and it is those times I relish. I have Bipolar 2.

While Bipolar 1 and 2 are related and used to come under the same heading of manic-depression, they differ slightly. I have episodes of deep depression. Deep, suicidal, bare-fanged depression. At those times the crazy tiger tries to gore me. But for most of the time I live in the other extreme – I’m riding the red tiger with the wind blowing in my hair, shouting ‘yippee’ at all who will listen. Those with Bipolar 1 find their ‘up’ episodes so dizzyingly high that they are dangerous. That’s the difference between mania and hypomania. 

Both states are characterized by

High energy
Positive mood
Irritability
Inappropriate behaviour
Creativity
Mystical experiences.

…but in mania, these things are experienced in the EXTREME! When I’m up, I’m very, very up but not completely in outer space.  

A third of patients do not respond well to pharmaceutical interventions with Bipolar. I fall into this bracket. Medication had the unfortunate effect of sending me completely and utterly nuts. I was in a hell that all but spiraled out of control. I have someone very close to me who is Bipolar 1 and responds wonderfully to drug therapy. I know I could keep juggling and trying out new medications but some years back, I decided to take my tiger by the ears and let him know who was boss. Sometimes he still snaps and snarls at me but most of the time now we get on just fine.

I’ve decided to really get to know and understand my crazy tiger. They say it’s a good thing to get to know your enemy and so I did and in doing so I’ve made a friend of him. It is truly like taming a wild animal. I have learned what triggers his ferocity and I avoid those stressors….drinking too much, being alone for too long, arguing with irritating people, lack of sleep, eating too much sugar. And I stroke the beast by thanking him for the heightened creative urges, the marathon writing sessions, the unbridled energy, the leg-trembling libido, the sense of spiritual enlightenment.

When he does snap, I remind myself that it is just his savage nature and I do my best to reason with the darkness and pray that it will soon pass.

Bipolar has affected so many creative people through-out history and I remember hearing Stephen Fry once articulate the same sentiment that I have….that he would miss the creative highs that go with the condition if he were not to have it. To be even-keeled and temperate and balanced would unnerve me. I’m a roller-coaster girl and I’ve come to accept that and deal with it.

One of the most profound ways I have come to banish the blues and minimise the dark stripes is by exercise and diet. There are so many natural ways to temper mood disorders. Magic ingredient one is FISH OIL. I suspect that any good Omega 3 supplement would work as well. Cashews and Brazil nuts come in second place. Salmon, green leafy vegetables and legumes. I literally run like an F1 supercar on that sort of petrol.
Sugar is a potent poison which stirs the vicious streak in my crazy tiger. Alcohol sends him into a dark rage more than anything else. He can handle some red wine and champagne now and again. But a binge will have him out of the cage and gnawing at my throat in no time.

A good long walk can turn my mood from black to crimson like a cartwheeling gymnast.
My approach to Bipolar is not for everyone and before I started tackling the problem there were some dark times when the suicidal feelings were frightening. I don’t condemn the use of medication because it can be life-saving.  But I have chosen to go the most natural way and live with an element of vigilance to mood. I am lucky that for most of the time I am running like a happy, energetic whirling dervish, scheming and dreaming. When I am down I can force myself to realise that the sky is not really falling, it’s just the empty roar of that crazy tiger.

It makes life a little unpredictable…..but never boring.

We are all made differently. My best friend recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl with Down Syndrome and she reckons her darling’s extra chromosome ‘rocks’! She’s an inspiration. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Over the years I can attribute a good deal of tears to my tiger but every great success has also been thanks to my crazy striped friend. Bi-polar can be a bitch but sometimes, it too, rocks! 


Idiots

I'm going to be extraordinarily lazy today by borrowing from someone else's blog. It's so hot in my neck of the woods that I am about to self-combust and words don't come easy in such a state.

I follow a great, wise and prolific writer's blog.  You can follow Joe Konrath at jackonrath.blogspot.com.au

He was discussing how easy it has become to be a lounge-chair critic in this day and age of instant online postings. I was particularly amused by his take on what might define an 'idiot' when it comes to critiquing books........

'Here are some signs you might be an idiot.

If you've ever called someone a name without any provocation, you're probably an idiot.

If you think the world really cares about how much you hate something, you're probably an idiot.

If you've ever given a one-star review to anything, you're probably an idiot.

If you've ever posted anonymously, you're probably an idiot.

If you've ever casually dismissed something that others find value in, you're definitely an idiot.

If you talk before you think, you're definitely an idiot.

If you have a closed mind, you're definitely an idiot.

If this blog post makes you angry, you're definitely an idiot.'



Now you might say, "Joe, but I've done one or more of these things. Does that mean I'm an idiot?"

Possibly not. True idiots usually aren't aware that they're idiots. But if you're doing a lot of the above, you aren't doing yourself any favors.


Nicely put, Joe.

I'm sitting in my knickers in front of a fan, sipping mineral water, praying for a storm and I thank-you for sharing your thoughts, that I in turn, have 'paid forward.'

Cheers.
Nik  

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