Destination: Some Place Else

…to get away for if only a moment

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35. The thing about friendship is….

I just had a friend over who I hadn’t seen in a long time, as she’s been overseas. It got me thinking about the last few months especially, but also of a lifetime of friendships. They say friends come and go for different reasons in your life and at different times. Some are fleeting and some are forever. Some scar you, hurt you, anger you and those friendships burn out like a match. Then there are others that are just for big groups, partying and giggles. But if you are lucky, some are magical. Like a beautiful storybook of memories that expands each time you meet, never knowing which way it will go. Some don’t need lots of time spent together (though of course you would always like more time), as every time you see each other, it is like it was just yesterday. Like just then.

Since I’ve had my daughter (still sounds weird saying that), it has been so amazing to see all my friends and families love for my husband and I, but more importantly for her. Even though they had never met her before, there has been this heart-warming connection they all feel, because they already have that love for us. Funny how love works. We are so lucky to have such a large, yet close group of friends surrounding us and we are so grateful for. They have come from all walks of life and are all beautifully unique. Some I have bonded with on a new level since joining the parent brigade too.

I heard a quote that goes something like ‘friends are the family you chose for yourself.’ Man, I have a great family then. But you know what? My family have also become my friends. You know you are getting older when you consider your parents your friends and your siblings, your closest of friends (when you were little you probably fought like cats and dogs). With time that has passed, I’ve had friends who have been the strongest of supports when I have needed it. Since Bonnie I can’t even believe how incredible my friends and family have been-whether it has been from cooking meals, buying beautiful gifts, lending an ear or a shoulder when I’ve needed it, giving advice, making me laugh, giving great hugs, all of it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

A friend who I met through work came round the other day and I haven’t got to see her much over the last few years as she spends a lot of her time in France and we live busy lives….but I said I knew I missed you but it wasn’t until I just saw you again that I realised how much. I get that feeling every time I see friends who have been away or when they are near but time has just flown past and we haven’t got to catch up in a while. Like today, when another beautiful friend came round and we gasbagged for hours but it felt like only minutes. It is so nice to have her back.

So I just wanted to take the time to say how much I love you all my beautiful, amazing, intelligent, funny, exciting, spontaneous, loving, sexy, fun, deep friends. Some of you are so close and I am so grateful, some of your are around the globe and I am excited for you, but miss you incredibly, some are just returning and I cant wait to see you, some of you are my oldest and closest, some of you are my newest and I can’t wait for that friendship to grow and memories made.

To my family-near or far, immediate or now by marriage-you have each done so much for me in your individual ways. Even just two days ago, I got a beautiful letter and package just because from my Aunty Lee ( I will call you tomorrow to say thanks!!) Thank you from the bottom of my heart, as you all shape me to be a better person.

My parents- I can’t thank you enough for everything you have given me. The best start at life, solid morals, advice and support. Now I am a parent I understand all the sacrifices you gave so much more. I couldn’t ask for better parents.

To my sister- you are my rock and my compass and the funniest/weirdest person I know. Without you, life wouldn’t make sense. You’re an incredible mum too. I love your children to bits too.

To my husband- I shouldn’t have to say how much you mean to me cause you should know, but you are my everything. I tell you my secrets, my desires, my weird stories and you still love me. I do strange things and can be trying at times but you love me more. You are the best lover, father and the best of friends and I am so incredibly lucky to have met you. Thank you for making Bonnie with me too. My love for you grows mountains each day.

To Bonnie- though we have just met, I feel like I have known you for a lifetime. All we have to do is look in to each other’s eyes and it is like nothing exists but just us in that moment. You are by far the best thing I have done and I know you will be an incredible little thing when you are grown. But for now, let’s just enjoy each little moment day by day. I love you forever.


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34. The times they are indeed a changing…..

In the darkness,
you are part of me and I of you.
This is a different, but familiar love,
it’s like looking at myself as a child.
Like my heart is beating outside of me,
as you, so small, lie upon my chest.
Time means nothing,
except now watching you grow.
So many things I had thought were important –
has now compounded into you.
The responsibility I feel to keep you safe
is both overwhelming, but enlightening.
My beautiful little girl,
it’s like I was missing something that I never even knew.
You are everything that is good, wrapped up in perfection,
and then some.

27/8/15 3.13am

Bob Dylan of course wasn’t singing about the trials and tribulations of parenthood, but I thought his song title seemed fitting for this blog, as the times they are definitely a changing. My ‘previous’ life had been a non stop juggle of social and work commitments, fancy dinners, partying hard, travels interstate and overseas, family gatherings, times with my partner, appointments and exercise and somewhere in there…. some time for me. I have always lived with the mantra that you should live life to the fullest. I always knew that if I was to become a parent that would of course change, but I guess didn’t quite grasp just how much time is affected when a baby comes into the picture. For instance, I started this blog about 5 weeks ago (generally I write & post one that day).

Time goes so slowly, yet so fast when you have a new baby. You can spend hours just staring into each other’s eyes, pulling funny faces, watching them sleep. Or your days can certainly be filled with washing baby clothes, cleaning the house and attending various baby appointments. For so long, I had been able to leave the house with just a handbag full of things in a few minutes. Now it takes me at least ten mins to get myself organised before I can leave. I now have to remember that if I don’t pack a dummy and my baby loses it, I am kicking myself. Or if I forget a change of clothing for her, would our car seat be potentially graced with lots of poo.

Even though we are still incredibly busy, our way of life has certainly changed. It is now about living day to day. Things change with a newborn and you have learn to be ok to change your plans, cancel and stay at home or take a lot longer to do things. You have to learn to be ok with things being just ok. I don’t think there are any awards given out to the parents with the cleanest house, or how much they achieved in a day with a baby. I’m actually finding this change really refreshing, as I have to be completely present. You forget about all that crazy stuff like stresses at work when your baby smiles at you, you aren’t thinking about how you need to rush off to somewhere as it’s about connecting with this beautiful, little being in that amazing moment. When they look so intensely at you, nothing matters and time is not important. Time is just a thing.

It is also funny how time changes everything. If I had put this blog out 5 weeks ago, I was in a haze of positivity as my beautiful little Bonnie and Lewy and I were on cloud nine and that everything was peachy. Sure there were plenty of moments of ‘are we doing the right thing,’ or ‘why is she crying, let’s work through this list (dirty nappy, hungry, tired, over stimulated etc),’ but then we figured it out and we trusted our instincts. She is of course is the best thing we have ever done and I can’t believe just how much I love her, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been really hard at times. Though we have had much more smiles than frowns, and at the moment she is pretty good sleeper- but two weeks ago, we had our first bad week.

We worked through the list; we just couldn’t work out why she was so upset. I was full of tears, and self doubt and my confidence dwindled-reading baby books and looking up the old Dr Google didn’t help the situation either. Having just seen a lactation consultant, we think it was a growth spurt along with my supply not matching her hunger (gosh that makes you feel good when you can’t feed your baby properly). But moving along another week, and feeding her more- she has been awesome again. I’ve gotten out of the house a lot more, walked till my feet felt like they were going to fall off, so I could clear my head. There will most definitely be more of these days to come, but I need to remember it’s all about perspective.

A friend told me this about newborns…..every day you’ll have a bad hour, every week you’ll have a bad day, and every month you’ll have a bad week. So hey, to all those parents out there feeling a little unsure, just remember this and give yourself a break. I know I’m still learning to do that and it does make you feel better when you can be stuck in a cloud of doubt. Learning to trust your instincts is also key.

So in the last 10 weeks of being a mum, here are 10 things I thought I knew about being a parent -but until I became one, did I realise I was wrong…..

1. Babies poo a lot
SHE SAID: …….*the loudest pooing sound*
We have been lucky to be graced with an expert projectile pooer. This girl has skill, nearly being able to hit something a metre away including both of us. There have been several occasions where Lewy or I have had to strip down to our underwear as we’ve been hit by her missile. We have now learnt to wait till she is most definitely finished before taking away her nappy. I don’t want to think about how many nappies and wipes have we used so far.

2. You do become one of those parents…..
I always said that if I were to become a parent then I wouldn’t spend my days talking about poo, vomit, feeding and how much we love our baby. But the reality is, that part of your baby’s life tends to consume your days, so there isn’t a huge amount else to talk about (at least in the early days). But on the other side, I’m not going to apologise for it either, as I love my baby to bits and want to talk about her non-stop. For other parents, they are often the same-which is probably the battle when you catch up with your childless friends-not boring them to death. I do have this voice in my head when catching up with people saying ‘I think you’re talking about Bonnie a little much’ but then I can’t stop. On the other side, it is nice to get out and do non baby related things from time to time for your sanity.

3. If you breastfeed you are insanely hungry, thirsty, stuck in a time warp…and it can be freakin hard work
I have been eating like a horse. I mean I already did, but this is insane. I also seem to be guzzling down litres of water, which is not a bad thing. Don’t get me started on the initial set up you want when at home so you don’t go mad-toilet stop check, washed hands check, phone, water bottle, snack, pillow, spew rag, lanolin…check. In the first few weeks when it took much longer to feed her, I sped my way through a few TV series in the middle of the night, but thankfully now they are much shorter and I can do without. But sitting in the near dark can be very tiring-I can see why so many mums are on facebook in the wee hours. There is something to be said though about that time of the night, when it is just us, her tiny hands feeling their way around as she gulps down her milk.

As beautiful as breastfeeding can be, it can certainly come with challenges which has been a big reason I had such a bad week and still continue to have my days. I wish I found it a lot easier, but it’s hard when your supply is low. I had the most amazing lactation consultant come to visit and we are on a plan. I’m on vitamins and herbs, sipping whole cumin seeds, drinking beer and eating lactation cookies (ok a beer and cookie diet doesn’t sound that bad). For the next few weeks I also have to try express after every feed, which is damn tiring and often emotionally exhausting..not to mention feeling like a cow. So let’s see how this all goes as seriously if my boobs aren’t exploding with milk soon at least I know I tried everything. I don’t think it will be until Bonnie is a mother herself (if that’s what she wants) that she will truly understand what parents go through for their baby, I most certainly didn’t. So thank you to my own beautiful parents for a lifetime of putting me first. There is a long list of things that can go wrong, bad latching, cracked nipples, thrush, vasospasm, mastitis -it is hard for a lot of women. So I can definitely see why women choose formula.

4. You need to become a master of coordination
Being able to do two things at once is a skill most women have, but being able to do that while holding a baby is a whole other skill set. I can see why baby Bjorns and ergo babies, baby swings, baby gyms all have such a roaring trade.

5. Washing clothes, baby bottles and your hands is really annoying and time wasting
My hands are feeling so dry that I swear I will have sand paper hands by the time Bonnie hits kindergarten. Seeing babies don’t like bacteria just yet, you are constantly washing your hands, their clothes and if using a bottle (which when I’m expressing after every feed, I certainly am) you are also washing these things. Driving mad, mad I tell you. If your baby is on formula, you have to be even more careful keeping this sterilised. ahhhh

6. How difficult it is to the leave the house without a shit load of stuff
I touched on this above, but my god babies need a lot of stuff when going out. Nappies, change mat, wipes, bags, toys, bottle, spare clothes, spew rat…the list goes on. I never appreciated having a neat, little clutch with a hand full on things when going out –but now I certainly do. I’m going away with her in a few weeks, so the list will be pages long I’m sure.

7. You need to be ok with everything not being ok
Some babies don’t sleep, others have colic, or breastfeeding is hard…there are so many things, but learn to be ok with getting help-as people want to help. Talk about your issues, see a specialist, go for a walk to clear your head, change your perspective. It all helps and is so important.

Also….the problem about being stuck at home when you are feeding is that you notice all the jobs that need doing. Dust everywhere, dirty clothes, the endless dishes….how do I get this done and try to also sleep when the baby sleeps. Listen, we all just need to get a grip and let the mound pile up occasionally so we can put our feet up, have a cup of tea….maybe write a blog.

8. You need to learn to function on broken sleep
I have always really liked my sleep but wasn’t always the best at it. But now, I generally hit the pillow and wake up in a puddle of drool on my pillow. Hot I know, but something about short spurts of sleep does that to me. I’ve also had these weird dreams that I’ve gone to sleep holding her, waking up in a panic that I have suffocated her only to find it is my own arm that I’ve some how managed to put to sleep. Sleep deprivation is something that I am just learning to deal with and trying now to prioritise resting so I don’t go mad.

9. Your body is not the same for a while
Aches and pains, jelly tummy and legs, sagging boobs. Painting an awesome picture? Look I know some women bounce back straight away and I’ve been pretty lucky, but it will certainly take some time if ever to get back to how I was…that’s totally ok too. I know my boobs will never be the same again (I’m just waiting for what other mothers have referred to as the footy socks with sand bag boobs). My neck and back are feeling officially f’d from constantly looking down while breastfeeding. I know I shouldn’t look down so much but I can’t help gazing at the little babushka. Massage on Monday here I come!!

10. A baby’s love changes everything
The crippling worry, the responsibility, the way they melt you hearty when they nuzzle into your chest, how you forget any worry you had when they smile, that even though you are covered in their poo and vomit you don’t care because they are so cute-this all comes with being a parent. There are going to be times when you are much more short with your partner because you are so tired, there are going to be times when you are so tired that all you can do is cry, there are going to be times when their crying makes you feel mad…but all of that doesn’t matter as you love your baby and that day when they can say it back to you will the best thing ever. But I don’t need words just now as when she looks at me or at Lewy –we know. Watching your partner gaze at them lovingly, when they look around for you, when they coo and giggle-that makes it all worth it.

Because you are with someone that is both so familiar, yet at times so uncertain that you spend your minutes just figuring each other out. That is my ‘new’ life now and I am so incredibly grateful for it. This is just the start of my love story and I have to remember that every day is a new page in a chapter of their life, so just taking it day by day is the best approach and I’m getting better at that. It is also the most beautiful gift too.

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33. A Not Bad Birth Story

In many of the books and apps for pregnancy, they compare each new week that your baby grows, to a piece of fruit or vegetable…perhaps to slowly prepare you. To be honest, the idea of pushing a small sized watermelon through my Cha Cha scared the shit out of me. Having spent 33 years with my lady part, I’ve become quite fond of it. To have that potentially compromised for some screaming unknown thing had always been a little difficult for me to grasp.

As far back as I can remember when I heard stories of labour, more often than not they sounded downright horrific. Of course the end result was a beautiful baby, but the underlying message was that it was an experience they almost wish they could forget. Until I was actually pregnant myself, I had imagined the worst case scenario- with me being torn open to high heaven, only having to be stitched back to virginity. Ok, I know that’s not possible- but you get the picture. Or scrap that, try not to visualise, as that’s where the problem begins.

There seems to be such fear instilled in women around the birth experience. In many cultures, young girls witness their family members giving birth, breastfeeding (some women have their babes almost permanently attached for the first few months) and help their mothers as the babies grow. They are not scared by it. They embrace it. Amish women give birth to an average of 7 children and having such a close knit family setting, their children grow up being much more exposed to the birthing process. Especially since they often give birth at home. Ina May Gaskin who is described as the ‘mother of authentic midwifery’ stated ‘we are the only species of mammal that doubts our ability to give birth. It’s profitable to scare women about birth. But let’s stop it. I tell women: Your body is not a lemon.’ She did a lot of her midwifery training with Amish communities, saying they tended to grow up without the same fear of the birth process as many women have today.

So I tried to push all these scary stories away. I actively decided to be positive and excited about that fact that though there would be pain, it was where I would finally meet my baby. After all, women go back time and time again- even with those not so nice experiences, so there must be something about motherhood that is pretty rad. So after the fun part of deciding to have a baby was successful- we were pregnant. I know there are so many variables to every labour, so I will just reiterate that this is my story only. I am extremely grateful for such a positive experience, as I know things can go wrong. For me, the thing that helped me so much was going in with an open mind. I just had to trust the professionals to get my baby out safely and keep me safe too. That was my number one priority.

Now I won’t lie – I was so incredibly tired by the time I was in active labour. I now have a real understanding why many women use pain relief –often it is from shear exhaustion. I had been to the hospital once with contractions and sent home being told it was just pre labour (I had three days of contractions that would be strong then peter off). We tried the usual things to bring on labour: long walks, bouncing on the fit ball, raspberry leaf tea, eating curry and yes strongly advised by our midwife -even sex (which at that stage since I was so huge, was almost laughable). I was told not to worry so much about the timing, but to call the hospital when the contractions were so intense I couldn’t talk through them.

So on the Friday, as my mum took me down the street to get some jobs done, they finally began to be consistent and get much stronger. Once I got home, I strapped on my TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine which sends small electrical pulses to the body (I swear by this as didn’t end up needing any other pain relief). I called Lewy to come home and then again my sister; husband and I went into the hospital.

Again, they nearly sent me home as by the time I got there the contractions had lessened. I swear they thought I was making it up. But on discovering my waters had broken, they decided to keep me in (yes I was expecting the huge embarrassing gush too). We had an amazing midwife during the night that said the best thing to me. ‘Just welcome every contraction and know they are leading to something really beautiful.’ So as they got stronger and stronger I said to myself, love, compassion, peace, beauty, strength, humour, intelligence….all these qualities that I imagined and knew our baby would have. Sounds a bit hippy I know, but it made them that much easier to endure.

The midwife drew little acupressure points on me and told Lewy to start pressing them to activate the labour. Literally 30 mins after he did, it was on. I told my sister to rush back in and by 8am when she arrived, I was 5cm dilated and told I would probably have my baby that afternoon. I need to state how absolutely fabulous they both were. It must be so hard watching someone you love in such pain and not being able to help alleviate that. But they did their best. They cracked jokes when I needed it, rubbed my back when I wanted it or stayed away when i didn’t want it, made a calm setting, told me how proud they were of me and did not laugh when I was letting out these deep animalistic grunts (we can laugh about it now). It was so special ito have them both there. I am forever grateful to my A-team!

Thinking I wouldn’t be having my baby till much later, there were definitely instances of wholly shit, I am definitely going to need pain relief. I remember letting out this loud whimper and my sister said, ‘don’t you break’ and I held strong. Now when I talked about bad experiences, I don’t want to say that the pain for me was not bad. It was the most out of my mind pain I have ever experienced. But I knew it was leading to something so amazing that it would be worth it. I had imagined walking through the maternity ward listening to music, with Lewy holding my hand as I calmly worked through each contraction. But it literally all happened so fast. All of a sudden, they were one on top of each other, with no subsiding in between. I dilated 5cm in 1.5hrs (perhaps that really long pre labour was not such a bad thing). I had to go to a place I never knew existed within me so I could stand the overwhelming pain. Before I knew it the midwife was asking me if I needed to push.

If I can take away anything out of some of the books that I read-the image of the coffee plunger helped me in this moment. Sounds weird right? But a book called Birth Skills said to imagine you were pushing down a coffee plunger for that big moment, so that’s why I did. But also imagine it is mixed with drying cement and that’s how hard you have to push. You push till the vessels in your neck are bludging, till you’re straining every iota of yourself, till you think you cannot possibly push anymore and then some. But then they showed me a mirror and I could see a little head (yes I gave a look) and I knew the end was in sight. I think that’s why for me, the pain didn’t seem as bad as the contractions (and hey a small baby really helps too). The moment when the head finally pops out is the most amazing feeling of relief, and before I knew it she just slid out and was placed in my hands and then on my chest. I will never forget the love I felt for Lewy in that moment too. We didn’t need to say anything, it was a mutual, ‘look what we made’ moment.

I can easily say it was the most transformative, powerful and enlightening experience I have ever had. The overwhelming range of emotions I felt was incredible. I felt maternal and spiritual and beautiful and empowered and so incredibly strong. As soon as our little baby Bonnie was placed on my chest, everything I had just endured melted away. So that is why women go back for more. I now get it, as they get the most amazing gift at the end. I guess why I’m writing this is to encourage women not to be afraid. Yes of course it was bloody painful, but the female body is a remarkable thing and is made for giving birth. Ina May was right, my body wasn’t a lemon, it was pretty freaking amazing actually and that is something to own and be incredibly proud of it.

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32. The End of this Road

Well…..this is it, the last day of my work at Grand Designs Australia.
How do I summarise the past three years?

You think about how much time you spend with the people you work with, especially if you are full time. Day in and out, you see them more than your friends and family, so I’ve always had the mindset that I should really be passionate about that environment and my role. I have never been one of those ‘I live to work’ people; life has way too much to offer than just that. I was unfortunately not one of those people who had connections to get my foot in the door, so I’ve had to work really hard to be in this industry and get to where I am-maybe that is why I appreciate it that much more. The allure of a TV/film production job can at first seem glamorous, but the reality is you do long hours and it can be extremely demanding physically and emotionally. There have been times where I’ve worked for free, done over 70-80hr weeks, had to sacrifice a lot of personal commitments-but all that has been worth it, since it got me to working here.

I’m sure when I first started they thought who this weird chick. I never had to change or pretend to be anyone other than who I am. I felt accepted from the start and have never been made to feel like I am not good enough or incapable of my job. In fact, it has been the opposite-everyone is so encouraging that it is contagious. I have never not wanted to come in other than when I was sick and that is pretty awesome.

I can easily say that the charm and the reason everybody loves to work here, stems from the Executive Producer. She will probably deny and take none of the credit as she is so beautifully humble, but it is true. From day one, she would always take the time to listen to me, laugh at my silly jokes (when she smiles she smiles with her whole body) and she has become such a mentor. She nurtures all the employees and it shows. Her friendly, helpful, joking, easy going vibe just filters down-there is a reason why most of us have been here for at least a few years or even since its beginning.

I’ve been so used to working in a predominantly male environment that it was such a breath of fresh air coming here and being surrounded by amazingly talented women. Though the men are absolute sweethearts (with the odd day of doing my head in, but that is pretty normal). My production manager has become my confident and she is the definitely the resident psychologist for us all…she even has the couch in the office to match. She has the most beautiful nature, so easy going with this quick wit and sense of humour that is infectious. All of the producers and post producers give their everything to the show. They genuinely care about making it the best it can be and that is why so many love to watch it. I could describe every person here, with their little quirks that I absolutely adore but this would be pages long.

Though I am really sad to be leaving and fear that I will never find a job quite the same –I know it is time to move on and make time for my motherhood chapter. They are not going to get rid of me completely as I will show up with the bub from time to time, demanding we do baby chinos and set up that nursery in the corner. It has been such an amazing place to work, while so much has happened. When I first started it was all about me coming in on a Monday, telling tales of my uber busy weekends, probably with some silly drunken story or documenting the year of 30ths, weddings and me being a bridesmaid. Then it was onto my own wedding and now as they have watched me get bigger and bigger with my pregnancy. The whole time they have showed such love, warmth and generosity with these huge milestones. I am so incredibly grateful to have been surrounded by such ‘amazeballs peeps.’

The thing I really love about this industry is the close bonds you form with the crew-they become like a second family. I have met some lifelong friends and just think you are all rad. It really makes me think that if you get the opportunity to work in an industry that you are really passionate about, you should grab onto it with both hands and be thankful as there are so many people out there who are unemployed or hate what they do. So thank you to all the GD peeps for the last three years.

I did like what a lady I work with said to me the other day…your baby will be your most excellent production ever- what a nice way of thinking about it.

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31. The Shifting State of Self

What better time to reflect than as I was lying in bed with a book, alone. I know that this quality lonesome time will become few and far between as I’m moving towards a new chapter. So I will relish these times while I can. I am literally hurtling towards my due date. In 6 weeks, I am going to be a mother. Where did the time go, where did I go? I know when I first found out, even saying those words, ‘I am going to be a mother’ sounded foreign, like it was meant for someone else. When I was younger, I wasn’t even sure I ever wanted to be one. To be honest, the idea freaked me out. But as time has gone by and I’ve gotten older, with a beautiful niece and nephew around and finding a man I wanted to share that with, my feelings began to change.

I was always saying I’m not ready; I’m not ready. There was always something on top of my bucket list that I had to do first. Travelling and having a good time were definitely high on that list. I just couldn’t quite get my head around having to say no to certain things. I’ve always liked having the freedom to say ‘nah, let me shout you this’ or, ‘no probs, I’ll come out.’ As we move into one salary land that will have to change and that’s ok. I always put a lot of pressure on myself career wise too. I was always striving to work hard and be ambitious, setting goals of where I had to be by when. But then as I hit about 30, I had this realisation that I already was successful, I was just measuring it in the wrong way. I look to my friends and family and who I am as a person now to know I am successful. I still do want to have a great career and I will always work hard, but I also know I want to prioritise family life for a little while now too.

So much has happened in a year in terms of growing and changing as a person. I’ve moved through so many states of being. I think of all these models of self that I have presented throughout my life. Some have been transient, some have changed and some are the same as when I was young. I was never really thinking about what kind of parent I would be. Before Lewy it was just me I had to worry about. Then you get in a relationship and it becomes about you as individuals and as a couple. Now there is this huge change, where someone will rely solely and completely on us and that is damn scary. The fact that their life depends on you is massive.

I knew Lewy has wanted to be a dad for some time. Watching him with other kids, I always joke that he is a baby whisperer as they just tend to love him. I am pretty sure he is going to be a much better parent than me. This is not me waving some competitive flag; I just think he is much more patient than I am. But I guess until we are in that situation, neither of us knows just how we will react. All we can do is love and support each other and never stop communicating, even when we are sleep deprived and covered in baby poo.

Most parents have told me, you think you are ready and prepared and you think you know what you are in for, but when that time finally arrives, you realize you were completely kidding yourself. A guy at work said ‘it is like being hit by a truck, but in a good way.’ It is just so different to theorizing about it or all the practice you think you’ve had on your nieces and nephews. Because when it is just you, your partner and your baby at home for that first time alone with no help- all bets are off. I guess time will tell but I think I just need to know not to put pressure on myself to be perfect…hell to have it even half right. As long as I can get this baby out of me in the safest way, then that is the first step. Then comes the real test, parenthood.

I have moved through a gradient of emotions with my hormones –one minute I am laughing hysterically, then I am crying and confused. I’ve kind of loved that too-experiencing feelings so intensely. It has put pressure on our relationship at times, but then it has made us stronger because we have been able to talk about our fears and anxieties about this next massive step. My love for Lewy is just getting stronger and I think that is pretty rad. One minute it was us, then we were getting married and then you were there…our little pea. Yes that old, weekly comparison to a piece of fruit or vegetable has stuck….even though you are well and truly past the size of a pea. At first, though I was quietly freaking out on the inside….all that hesitation I had ever felt has just floated away.

So even though I have no idea what you look like or who you will be – I feel this beautiful connection with you. I guess it is a bit like what faith is. Though I can’t see you, I know you are there and it is such a powerful bond. It is like a higher presence is playing out, making me completely present. This pregnancy has made me more self aware and connected that I have felt in years, if not ever. Having something kicking you from the inside, moving around, knowing that they are feeding off you and you are keeping this little being alive spins me out. Heaps of people have said how happy I seem and I am. It makes me think, was I just wasting time and distracting myself from what was actually really important to me?

There are so many things that can be an obstacle in the parenthood journey. Just getting pregnant is the first step. For some couples, it takes years or unfortunately never happens and there is no other sentence for that other than it fucking sucks. Knowing this fact, has made me so incredibly grateful to get to this point and I hope I never take for granted the gift that having a child can be. I just hope I measure up. But you know what, I know this baby is going to be awesome because they are off to the best start at life. They will be completely and utterly adored by those around them and even though they are being born from two kinda crazy, quirky parents, that is also pretty cool too.


30. To be a woman

We are beautiful, we are sensual, we are limitless, we are intelligent, we are funny, we are emotional and sensitive, we are crazy, we are mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. We are loyal, we are proud; we are vessels of light and love, and hope and strength. We are fighters, we are survivors. We are so many things. But we can also be victims.

Ever since I was little, I always believed that I could do anything a man could do. I was the biggest tomboy. I would do things because I believed…. no actually it was because it wasn’t even in my vocabulary to think that I wasn’t allowed or wasn’t capable of doing what a man could do. I was lucky enough to be born to parents who nurtured that and in a society where the general view did think that women were the lesser sex. The older I get and more educated I have become, I have realized that living in a patriarchal society , there are so many systems in place where men have often had better opportunities. They are statistically paid higher wages and given better job opportunities ( I am not being a man hater here, I am just stating fact).

I read an interesting article ‘the hidden penalties of being a mother in the workforce‘, which looked at if you chose to have a child, their were certain penalties you would have to face when returning to work. ie less job opportunity, salary, responsibility. Yes, things are changing with men becoming stay at home dads, equal rights ….but there is still a long way to go. Really the issue I want to talk about is far more devastating.

A few days ago, I watched a BBC documentary that was aired on Four Corners last weekend called India’s Daughters. This documentary that took over two years to make, was actually banned in India, because it followed the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey, in Delhi in 2012. I urge you watch this if you can stomach the sheer horror of what happened, especially knowing that it is estimated that a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. Jyoti came from a poor family who had sold their ancestral land to put her through medical school as all she wanted to do was be a doctor and help those who were less fortunate. When she was born, all the people in her village asked her parents why they were celebrating her birth as if she was born a boy. ‘Because they were happy either way’ they said. Like many countries, this view is still held strong, that to have a boy is the best gift one can have.

In December 2012, 6 months away from graduating, she went to see a movie with a male friend. Afterwards, she boarded a bus and was brutally gang raped. What I still can’t fathom is that they also butchered her like a cow, pulling her intestines out and left her for dead on the side of the road. I am really sorry to be so graphic but it is that part where I had to stop the film as wasn’t sure I could continue watching. These are the times when my usual upbeat personality, who tries to see the best in any situation, just simply cannot and do not wish to. That this type of atrocity can happen in the world is horrible and what makes it so much worse is that the perpetrators and defense lawyers and many people within that society believed she deserved it. One lawyer actually said that if his daughter went out like this woman did (and all she did was go see a movie. Even if she was dressed in the shortest of skirts with a male friend, that NEVER EVER should warrant it ok to be raped or assaulted), then he would take her to a barn and set her alight with gasoline. It is so backwards thinking, but definitely not the only country that holds these views (I would definitely like to point out, it is not the opinion of every single person in these countries and it is far more than just the role of women in a household, it is about their place in society).

But something did happen and this is what is worth something. There was an outcry amongst universities, women and men of India after this happened, and they began to riot. The following week, while Jyoti’s poor parents sat with her in hospital, knowing that she would not survive, there was a change. It got worldwide attention, as the article below states ‘ it quickly became clear that the protests were about far more than cruelty and the issue of police security for women in public places.’ The only thing that the family can take away is that she has now become a symbol of change in India and hopefully throughout the world. That does not change the fact that they have to learn to live life without her.

The human condition should be of love and acceptance, not of fear and shame. Men and women have fought throughout the ages for freedom of speech, of equality and it is still an endless struggle. I say this all from a lens of watching, from news and stories I have read and seen, from visiting countries that are poor and uneducated and different. Every single country has their own beautiful environments and people and structures and belief systems, but I don’t think there is one country that shouldn’t have these types of things challenged either, including my own. The rights and sufferings of women have long been documented and fought for. The more we do nothing, the more these sorts of acts continue. It is not only the judicial systems in place; it is the educators, the corporations, the men and women who are part of the solution.

Stop and think about your right as a man and as a woman and how education about these issues can lead to empowerment and movement for change. I am about to become a mother so maybe that is why this has resonated with me so much more. No one should ever have to live in fear, no one should have to not speak up because they might lose honour because these types of acts are happening. On the same day this documentary was aired, a NSW school teacher went missing the week before her wedding and there is now a hunt for her body. It was like with the rape and murder of Gill Meagher, these types of things happen everywhere. But the differences are the attitudes of the general society in which they happen that makes all the difference.

If only it was as simple as saying I love and accept myself, now why can’t I do the same of others.

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29. The art of listening

It doesn’t matter where you are from, what gender, sexuality, race, social status you are, there is one thing that we all have in common and it is a beautiful thing. As they say, stories are what connect us and we all have many to tell. Storytelling after all is history, the present and it is the future. As far back as I can remember I have always loved stories. Even better, I have relished the idea of one’s imagination because it is vast and your very own to create. Our own capacity to create stories from words spoken, pictures, shapes, colours, photos, people-inspiration can be anywhere-and we all have that in common. Sometimes people forget or lose the ability to use their minds in that way and honestly, I am scared shitless of that possibility. Being able to escape or unwind or be captivated or moved by a story, be that real or fiction is one of my greatest passions.

Again, stories are what connect……I believe that. You might hear something and it might anger you, compel you to action, change you, sober you, sadden you or excite you. Stories are what makes you want to listen and be a better person, it can make us strive for more, reassess our own lives, it can make us cry or be happy. As I sit and I watch this generation pass by all looking down into their phones or various devices, I worry that are we forgetting one of our most important abilities-the art of listening?

We often text, or facebook message rather than ring each other and we have stopped our face to face or person to person interactions. Some people become so wrapped up in their own worlds that they forget to stop and truly listen to what another person may be saying. I’ve met people along my journey and realized as much as they are essentially good people, that they never have stopped to ask much about me and my story, who I am. Yet I can know so much about them. It is like any relationship you have in life, it should be a two way thing, it shouldn’t be one sided. If you ask a question of someone, you should want to know the answer.

I mean I haven’t forgotten the true beauty of reading either. What a wonderful way to learn and grow. Everyone gets their information differently. Often when I am on the tram or train and watch those people looking into their phones (and yes I can be the same at times too), I have realized that people don’t read books as much anymore. Maybe they are reading their Kindle, but the hard copy kind, one where you can smell the dust on the pages, that is my favourite. As much as I love creating my own stories, or watching amazing films, I will always take solace in curling up with a book and losing myself to the story that someone else has written. I can still use my imagination to create the visual world that they are creating. That can never be replaced with the latest visual technology to offer. If someone ever says ‘I’m bored,’ I am baffled as for me, there is simply not enough time in this life for all the stories. That is why I have spent years trying to read many of the classics.

Recently, I’ve been listening to ‘This American Life’ which is a weekly public radio show broadcast. This is definitely not a new concept; millions of people download the podcast around the world, for one reason; to listen. It brings back the joy of the radio broadcasts that my grandparents and parents would listen to when they were younger. Running since about 1995, TAL, is a testament to the fact that many people haven’t forgot to listen, in fact, they embrace it. My boss who has been a fan of it for years, told me about it. More recently, with my annoyance with commercial radio stations, I decided to listen elsewhere (I am still a fan of PBS and 774 with the odd RRR/JJJ thrown in as I haven’t forgotten the joy of listening to music either). With us living in such a visual world, it is a special thing when you can close your eyes, and be taken on a spectacular journey. Some of the stories are fictional, but most are real, served with a journalistic style that makes you waiting for the next piece of the puzzle. Usually, the weekly themes are broken into acts, but they all have one thing in common. They captivate you and intrigue you; they evoke some kind of emotion, which really is the pure essence of storytelling. Where you can realize that what some people think of as an ordinary story, can actually be quite extraordinary.

So stop, look up, smell the roses and listen to all that surrounds you. Know that every person you meet has a potential for greatness and that you can be affected by their stories. Yes, some people are great storytellers, others are better listeners, but searching for ways to harness these ideas are just part of the big picture. Even though I love my movie/TV marathons, I also encourage you to pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read or stream an interesting podcast. Or if you are sick of the meaningless chatter or ads that fill our radio content, feel yourself being brought down by road ragers, or like something to listen to whilst dining alone, click onto an audio book and feel inspired instead.

Check these out:

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28. My 20c of taxi wisdom was what he said

I’m not sure if it is just me, but I always seem to be able to pick the taxi drivers who are up for a chat. Whatever the country, they seem to hone in on the fact that I will listen if they are willing to talk, or is it they really need to talk and I am willing to listen. Yes, there are times when I want to switch off during my ride, but I guess you need to be prepared that if you say hi, how are you, this might instigate a full blown retelling of their life story. Possibly from too much time alone, or maybe they know that the likelihood of you ever meeting again is slim, some will go on to reveal the most intimate and personal stories. For some people, this is just too much coming from a complete stranger, or at least way too much during a 15 minute car trip. I’ve certainly had those moments….but then there are some insights worth listening to.

I often find that taxi drivers can give little pearls of wisdom or the most interesting insight into human nature. How could they not when driving for a living, literally watching all wakes of life enter their vehicle for short spans. With this, these passengers can bring any number of moods or state of minds: drunk or sober, stressed, ready for a big trip, angry, sick, upset, really happy, really horny-the drivers have probably seen it all.

The last trip I took with a taxi driver was heading to Singapore International airport and was hands down the best driver I’ve ever had. I’m sure we’ve all got our tales of horrible drivers-those ones where you feared for your life as they were really tired or weirdly wired- narrowly missing traffic; ignorant or angered drivers; those with tales of woe that you really don’t want to listen to. I’ve even had a driver who wanted to share his spliff whilst driving…. we did drive really slowly; listening to reggae beats the whole way, so it wasn’t all bad. But on this occasion, Fandli, was a 35 year old Muslim Malay driver, who covered topics from the decline in radio content, to differences in driver behaviours in each country during peak hour, to subliminal messaging in Marvel comic movies.

He mentioned he hardly watched the news on TV as he thinks the government, media and certain organizations who control this information, can sway opinion. That people tend to become devoid of being able to think with their own minds, never questioning what information they are being presented with. Instead, he would read and learn from a variety of different sources and always question it. I agree that we can be all too willing to soak up certain information as gospel. We are offered advice on what to eat, how to love, where to travel, how to be-surely some of it is wrong and some of it just bogus. At the end of the day, it should be about finding what works for you. I loved when he said how ridiculous it is that we now have apps that can track the location of our phones, yet we can’t track a plane that goes missing. This guy was full of conspiracy theories, but not without research or intelligence.

Instead of watching crap on TV, he would read and open his mind. He chose to wake up, look up and talk and learn from people he met throughout his day. Ok, yes there are times where I love to switch off my mind after a long day at work and watch a bad chick flick or reality TV-but I certainly mix it up with insightful shows, documentaries, news and worthwhile films. Fandli was frustrated with everyone glued to their phones, never really actively participating in life. Well, we all know this is a problem. We are incredibly lucky to be in a generation where we literally have information at our fingertips. We can communicate with ease to friends and family across the globe, we can learn about the extraordinary or the mundane within seconds. Though we also need to think about the huge amount of people who don’t have this luxury of access or wealth to purchase the technology-we should remember that part of living, is being present and not stuck to the screen of whatever medium you are choosing to use in that moment.

Fandli also wished that the media wouldn’t create fear by generalizing factions ie. that ALL Muslims are terrorists for example. Fandli is Muslim and during our 30 minute ride, he seemed like a good natured, kind and generous man, which fits the description of many Muslims and Catholics and atheists and others. It is just unfortunate that ignorance and lack of information can lead people to believe the media’s scare mongering. After all of this, he then turned around and said ‘look all I’m giving you is my 20c worth of taxi wisdom so you don’t have to agree, but it is nice that you have stopped to listen.’ Isn’t that what this world should be about, listening to other people’s opinions from all ethnicities, religions, genders and sexuality, because even if you might not always agree, you are giving them the freedom of speech and you the right to listen. In many countries, this is not a liberty, it is a censorship issue.

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27. Keep calm & surrender

Only you and me.
We drift above and under each passing wave,
with a slow and beautiful repetition, like we both
were supposed to be here all along.
Once I was a child, counting clouds in the sky.
There was nothing but the ocean,
and my body existing in that space.
Nothing but a world full of possibilities,
and a big, open future to come.
But here, now, there is so much more.
I keep thinking that since there is only the sound of my heartbeat,
Then I might hear yours too, beating softly within me.
I close my eyes and try to imagine you there,
Thinking about who you will be in this world.
Who I will become too.
I wonder that as I grow bigger and continue to float,
will the weightlessness that we both feel,
connect us even more so or will I have to wait
till I meet you in my arms.
16/1/14 1.15pm

I can’t even remember the last time I spent three full days on a beach doing absolutely nothing. I mean literally getting up, finding my position for the day and settling in. Moving to go sit in a hammock, maybe have some lunch on the beach and then back to the highest state of comfortable pleasure. Gawd, was it really as long as ago as my big trip overseas over 8 years ago…..yikes, it was.

I mean yes, I’ve gone to tropical destinations since then, but in between lazy beach sessions, I’ve been 4WD or hiking up mountains, going on fishing expeditions, sky diving or some crazy adventure. But in Phu Quoc, Vietnam, at the remote and beautiful Peppercorn Resort (highly recommend-have to head down a bumpy, dirt road for 15 mins to get there but well worth it), we enjoyed the middle part of our honeymoon. We completely relaxed and surrendered to the serenity. The first day we did an 8 hour island tour, visiting a pepper farm, fish sauce factory, temples, a jail, beautiful coastlines & waterfalls-all of this was amazing.

But what we really yearned for was a time to switch off our phone, cut off from facebook, emails & the internet. A complete movement away from our hectic lifestyles back in Melbourne. I definitely know I don’t have nearly enough days where I do nothing but read and listen to music. There is always some pull to do something, be somewhere or at home, the never ending chores that daily life entails.

But as I looked out to the blue ocean unraveling before me- I was brought back to how completely at one I feel when I’m near water, especially the beach. The gentle breeze in my hair, watching the fishing boats in the distance. I am lost to the elements, I am free from thought. I spent a long time just floating in the water, a feeling that always brings me back to when I was a child. Complete surrender, only my heartbeat, as I would watch fluffy clouds float past in the sky. No thoughts or fear in that moment, just a purity that water gives me, cleansing me like a baptism. If only you could bottle the calmness of these moments. Instead, I yearn to find ways to recreate this at home. Swim more, breathe deeply in yoga, sit outside in a park and do read and listen to music, watching the world go by. I may not have the beach on an island every day, but there are ways of creating my own little island when I need to.

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26. The Vietnamese right of passage

Worker bee’s swarm,
grinding their way through the daily slog.
Weaving in and out of obstacles,
all with fluid motion and purpose.
Each alleyway and road like the veins of the hive,
its pure energy, is its mother.
Foreigners stand nearby with fear and hesitation,
often finding solace by following the
footsteps of the locals surrounding.
10.01.15 4pm

What I love most about travelling is to be challenged and put out of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I do adore chilling out on the comfort of a beach, partying in an overseas club or seeing beautiful architecture. But the trips where I have come away thinking, I have now grown as a person; well that is the definition of travel for me. It is a journey of space and time, of self discovery and learning about human nature. I have felt this is many places; Turkey, Cambodia, Bosnia, Japan, Peru –this list can go on. I never for a day will forget just how lucky I am to have travelled so much. It is a part of who I am now- a nomad at heart, an observer, a participant and a lover of all things different. As they say, life would be damn dull if we were all the same so why not embrace going to new places and experiencing that first hand.

When visiting Vietnam 6 years ago, that was my first thought. Whoa, this is so different to Melbourne. For if you have ever ventured to Ho Chi Mihn especially, you have to agree that their idea of safe driving practices, are just not held to the same standard as many other Western countries. I really can’t decide if the drivers there are amazing, the worst ever, absolutely crazy or a combination of the three. Not much has changed since then, as on my recent trip this month, though there may be slightly more traffic lights, there are even more drivers to compete for the dwindling space. But I have to say, I just love it. Their ability to navigate in and out of lanes with no sudden or erratic moves when coming head on into oncoming traffic still astounds me. It is pure chaos to the untrained eye, but for the Vietnamese, it just works and is beautiful to watch.


I especially love just how much they can fit onto one motorbike or bicycle. Maybe it is a freestanding dog on the back, or an entire family (yes I saw 5 people on a motorbike) with babies squished between parents and siblings. I can’t even imagine what our road law officers would say if they saw this. There would surely be a citizen’s arrest if a fellow Melbournian witnessed a toddler standing up at the front of any moving vehicle, constantly swallowing down the mass of pollution from all the vehicles. Bicycles carrying other bicycles, cement, food supplies, your laundry, a mattress, you name it, they have probably tried getting it on there. Quite amazing really. Crossing the road as a foreigner is almost a rite of passage when visiting Vietnam. The first time I visited, I literally stood at a busy intersection for 5 minutes working out how on earth I would cross, as the cars just never stopped. But as a local crossed slowly but with purpose, I realised I would have to do the same. Sure enough, the vehicles did slow and move around me as if I was the parting the Red Sea.


If you can peel you eyes away from this madness and follow the street corners, that is where you will notice the real magic of side stalls and shop owners, cyclo drivers, exotic fragrances wafting and enticing you’re your senses for the amazing Vietnamese dishes…..which moves me to my next favourite thing about travelling, the food!! My god, the food in Vietnam is so fresh and mouth watering. Part of the experience is to go crazy and try or the specialties as each region usually has one. For example, in Hoi An, it is Cao Lao, a pork and noodle dish that is famous as it uses is water from the oldest well in the town. No this does not equal, food poisoning either-it is beautiful. If you can go a little wild and venture to the street stalls, you will probably eat the best pho you’ve ever tried and mix with the locals (my other favourite thing). On this trip, I have to admit though, since I am carrying a certain little bebe, I had to contain myself just in case. Though there was never any shortage of choices to try out.

Part of travelling is to try different things too. Usually we go on some crazy tour-like the ghost tour in New Orleans, or we hiked the Inca trail in Peru, doing a cooking class or trying an exotic food like a scorpion….but again since we were trying to relax after a crazy year and since this was after all our honeymoon, one of things we tried was Tai Chi. Now many people would relate this to the oldies in the park on a Sunday morning, moving so slowly, that you can’t even imagine how they are getting the benefits of exercise. But right now, I can assure you, that this is not even remotely true.

We tried it on the windiest day, but it was actually perfect. We positioned ourselves in front of the beach and watched as our instructor, donning his white silk outfit, majestically maneuvered the most graceful of movements. I’d love to say that from the beginning, we copied these movements with the same ease and grace, but we looked damn awkward. Maybe it was his patience from all the years of practice that enabled him to show us slowly over and over again. These simple, delicate techniques that when watching a master, will transfix you. I now take my hat off to those oldies, practicing their Tai Chi as after an hour of repetition we were both depleted and my arms and hands were actually quite sore. I would definitely like to try it again….maybe just not in view of the other hotel patrons watching.

I always say to people who haven’t been able to travel much or at all, that if they ever get the chance, to seize it. For me, it has been the best education about life, history and people. I have worked three jobs just to save up enough to get me there, washing dishes, washing hair, whatever it took. I don’t want to say, I’ll wait till I have a mortgage and retire to travel, as how do I know I will make it that long. This is not me being morbid in any respect, far from it. It is me trying to live life in the moment, where I can. Yes, it is always important to also not be too reckless, to save for a house or a car if you want those things, or study for a brighter future. I just believe that any way you can expand your horizons is a good thing and something to wish for. You might realize that no one country has got it completely right too, they are all beautifully different. That like a good recipe, travel is full of wonderful flavours and variations and that by taking that first bite, you might realize you have found your favourite dish.