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The Good, The Bad and The Raging

There are good days and bad days and then there are rage days. Today is a rage day. Even though I said I would stay away from the political discourse, today I found I couldn’t get away from it. To explain it here would be to feel my rage escalate, suffice to say that I feel as though I’ve woken up in the middle of 1984. The novel, not the year. And that’s bad. That is not a novel you want to wake up in the middle of!

So. What to do. I’m going to immerse myself in some cute youtube clips that always make me smile and will hopefully lift this rage away from me. Please enjoy this clip, it never grows tired and it’s my all-time favourite of theirs. And please, if you have any cutesy clips you think I should watch to calm myself down, then do feel free to link here in the comments!

Glasses, Glasses Everywhere – and Yet I Cannot See

Unbelievably, the mysterious glasses seemed to be my prescription! That was a surprise!

Unbelievably, the mysterious glasses seemed to be my prescription! That was a surprise!

Do you have days where you get the feeling you’re going mad? I do. And today was another such day. Peak Eye Roll was reached today and all because of a pair of glasses.

I have this thing where there are a few pairs of those cheap and cheerful glasses lying about the house. MOTH and I share them and we leave them on coffee tables, dining tables, kitchen, bathroom, garage, bedroom, laundry…you get the picture. When you get to our stage, leaving multiple pairs about is better than having a pair hanging around your neck like those real old foges… Anyway, earlier today AC1 showed me a pair of glasses he’d found in a carry-on suitcase – where they mine? Negative. I hadn’t seen a pair like that before. Maybe they were his girlfriend’s glasses! Nope. Her sister’s glasses? Nope. He’d recently been camping with friends, maybe it was one of theirs? Again, negative. I tried them on and marveled at how nice they were and declared that whoever had lost them would surely be missing them, and that these things cost a lot of money you know.

Fast forward to a few hours later and the mysterious glasses are sitting on the kitchen bench. AC1 is hovering in the kitchen like a seagull at a beach picnic just waiting for dinner to be ready – he’s got places to go to, people to see apparently – and I grab those said glasses to read the recipe I’m trying to follow and declare, much to the shock of AC1, that the glasses mine. I realised, they were my glasses after all, one of the many pairs I’ve bought and leave about the place. I then remembered they were one of the better quality ones, over the $20 mark rather than under the $20 mark.

I’m sure that AC1 is right now putting a call through to those lovely men who come and take you away to that nice safe place where you get to sit and stare out into the middle distance, drink lukewarm cups of tea and watch game shows on the telly all day long.

Still cannot believe I didn’t realise the glasses were mine. I blame menopalooza. /eye roll

Switching on to Auto Pilot

I spend most days yawning in an attempt to stay awake.

It’s winter and although we’ve hit the solstice, there are still 6 freezing weeks to go before I’ll start thawing out. If I’m warm enough, I do actually enjoy winter. And you would think that being in menopause – or menopalooza (thank you Jill Robbins!) as I now like to refer to it, because it sounds far more exciting and something that only the cool* kids have – I should be enjoying the higher temperatures as provided by my own personal thermostat. However, and I’m worried that now I am jinxing myself, but I don’t get the hot flashes that others also sharing in the menopalooza life, experience. And thank goodness, because it sounds totally awful!

What I do endure however, are the sleepless nights. I’ve cut down on my caffeine to two espressos maximum per day. I don’t exercise before bedtime. I don’t use electronic devices in the bedroom and instead read from those old fashioned paper books. Remember those? Anyway, my poor sleeping habits impact on my day -to-day, leaving me exhausted and totally unwilling to head to the gym and exercise. And exercise is important for us menopalooza gals. I’m in a vicious cycle…

I was reading on the weekend that celebrity trainer Michelle Bridges says that she sometimes goes into ‘auto pilot’ mode to get herself off to training. Today, I tried that tip, and it worked. All my body wanted to do was curl up and go to bed, I’d had a sleepless night and I was too tired to exercise or cook dinner or blog or sketch  – it was late afternoon and not bedtime at all, so sleeping was out of the question. Instead, I changed into my training gear without even thinking of what I was doing. I got into the car and drove to the gym. I performed the tasks as set by the trainer, just thinking of the mechanics of the movements I was doing and nothing else. Before I knew it, the session was complete and I was heading back to the car. I drove home, cooked dinner and here I am blogging. I would be lying if I said I feel energised, I don’t, but I do feel a lot better than I did earlier today. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to heat up some milk, add a teaspoon of honey and sip that and hope that my night isn’t a wakeful one.

If you have any tips on staying asleep when it’s the middle of the night, I would love to hear them!

* That’s not my idea of a bad joke, btw. If you get those horrible hot flushes/flashes, then you would be dreaming of being a cool kid. But you’ll have to agree that menopalooza sounds like so much more fun than stupid menopause.

An Open Letter to Retail Workers

There was a time when customer service was part of the whole shopping experience. Not on a sunday though.

There was a time when customer service was part of the whole shopping experience. Not on a sunday though.

Dear Retail Workers,

Today is sunday. I have the day off but I know many of you working in retail don’t get to enjoy your sundays the way people like me do. I’m sorry for that. I hope that the penalty rates you’re currently being paid go some way to compensate for the fact that you have to spend your sunday working instead of being with your family and friends. Retail pay rates aren’t the best to begin with so I’m with you in your fight to retain your penalty rates. I’ve been on your side of the counter and know it’s tough missing out on events simply because the roster says you’re working that day. I truly understand.

I also understand that being a retail worker should be all about customer service. I’m sure your bosses drill that message into you week in, week out. Give your best service, greet each customer, smile, be pleasant, offer assistance, and so on. You’d get messages from head office stating the same, it’s probably part of your job description to ensure you’re meeting high levels of customer service. And I bet you roll your eyes each time you’re told you have to role play the various scenarios that showcase what is good and bad customer service. In fact you probably have posters on your staff room walls giving you pointers on how to provide excellent customer service.  Now is more important than ever to provide excellent service – it’s what those bosses of yours will be saying…as their job may be on the line if more and more shoppers turn to the internet for their retail experience.

Earlier today, I did go shopping, I was looking for various bits and pieces for my home and I needed assistance. I visited four stores and received no assistance in any of the stores. There was plenty of you retail staff about, but you seemed to be more concerned about how much time you had left before you could go home. You were happily chatting with each other and totally ignoring me, your customer. In one store, you were vacuuming the floor and didn’t even acknowledge that I had entered the store. Retail workers, that’s really disappointing. You know that meme – you had one job – well, that was you today. Your one job is to provide customer service. If I were your boss, I would ask that you provide excellent customer service. That’s really the only advantage you bricks-and-mortar stores have over the online world – customer service. I realise this is probably your fill-in job while you wait for your career to take off, or uni to finish but if you can’t get this job right, what makes you think you’ll perform your other jobs in a positive, enriching way? Have you heard of the Fish! Philosphy? Go and check it out and apply it to your retail job, just for one shift and see the difference that it will make to not only your customers, but to you and your attitude.

I know I’m being harsh here, but it’s a tough world out there. The likes of Gerry Harvey are pressuring the government to start charging gst on online sales under $1000. It’s his way of trying to persuade the public to turn away from online shopping. By why should I abandon online shopping when I don’t receive customer service from you, the retail worker? I can tell you there’s nothing more off-putting than knowing that as a customer, I’m in the way or in today’s case, simply invisible.

It’s harsh, I’ve probably gone too far, but today your treatment of me, your customer, sucked. I had money in my wallet, I needed stuff, and you were all too busy looking at your watches, charging your phones, vacuuming and totally ignoring me. I’m sorry you had to work today, a sunday. I would love for all shops to be closed on a sunday like they were in the old days but that almighty $$ is king, so open on a sunday it is. As for the goodies I needed? Yes, thanks, I’ve found them online and they’ll be arriving within the week.

Yours in disappointment,

VN

My Swedish Secret – in Flat-pack Form

Wait till this little girl grows up and realises the doll houses Ikea have set up through their entire store!

Wait till this little girl grows up and realises Ikea is simply a grown-up version of life-size doll houses – the entire store is wall-to-wall doll house fantasy!

I’m going to come clean with you and admit that although it might be daggy and unfashionable and possibly all kinds of wrong –  I love Ikea.

Yes, I know everyone bemoans the place – too many people, the one way traffic flow with an odd person or two insisting on going the wrong way, their flat-pack furniture that has probably ended more marriages and friendships than it ever intended, the lack of short-cuts through the store so it forces you to travel through each department even if all you wanted was a packet of their yummy swedish biscuits, and the queues, their long, long queues. For all the reasons that many dislike Ikea, I – the contrarian I can sometimes be – love Ikea.

From the very first time I stepped into an Ikea store, I knew I was in some sort of furniture and furnishings heaven. Maybe it’s a harking back to my childhood when I’d played with doll’s houses, Ikea is simply a full-scale doll house with it’s multiple rooms all ready for the make-believe family about to enter and make themselves at home. When the store is busy, you can see these families in real life, making themselves comfortable as they recline on lounges, putting their feet up, discussing the decor and where the chairs should go, what colour should the Billy bookcase be and just who is going to put it all together. When the store is quiet – and yes, it can sometimes be empty of humans but I don’t want to tell you when that is…I love it even more – I can then imagine the sort of family who will buy the lounge room set up with the Hemnes bookcases, the Kivik lounge with chaise – what colour will they pick, a safe grey or dark blue or even white, will they go for a round or rectangle rug – plush and luxurious or flat woven, will their walls be filled with family photos or black & white travel images or even something arty from the Ikea range found in the hall of all-sorts-of-goodies? So many scenarios!  These fictitious families are suave and dapper and sophisticated and smart and hip – perhaps everything I perceived my family to not be. (Growing up, who thinks their family is the cool one…)

I remember one family from my childhood whose whole house was furnished with Ikea furniture. Of course I didn’t realise that at the time as I hadn’t been into an Ikea store at that stage. But I can tell you, I thought their house was very special, very sophisticated. Their furniture and decor was nothing like any other I’d ever seen. They were our only friends with grown up children – that was certainly different; their bookcases were top to bottom filled with National Geographic magazines and other periodicals I had not seen before – we were readers, but not so prolific as this family. Were these hip and sophisticated people really friends of my daggy and suburban parents? And how was it possible that from the outside, their home looked like a normal suburban home, yet walking in the front door was like no suburban home I’d ever seen at the time, or even since? I don’t know what it is about an Ikea-furnished room that makes it look so very different to the normal. Logically, it is normal furniture. And you infuriatingly* have to put it together yourself. And yet, the mystique, for me, never grows tired. I can never have enough of my visits to Ikea – in fact, I don’t even need any furniture or furnishings – yet I find I still visit. And daydream. And dream up the perfect family who can live in the little 55 square metre apartment Ikea have built for them in the store. Ikea, don’t ever change…

 

* Arrgh! Another little secret – I enjoy putting together the furniture and am diligent in following each instruction. Am I messed up or something…what is wrong with me…!!

 

A Lesson Learned, The Hard Way

Adopting a walking cane and fob watch is probably taking things too far, but you need to be correctly dressed when attending job interviews.

Adopting a walking cane, monocle , top hat and fob watch is probably taking things too far, but it is important to be correctly dressed when attending job interviews.

Today, a valuable lesson was learned by AC2, and as his mother, it was very difficult to watch and not intervene.

You see, AC2 is looking for part-time employment, taking advantage of the fact that he’s on a uni break. He’s a quiet sort of boy of few words and that can be misconstrued as being shy or withdrawn or even as incapable. We were out and about getting some “interview” suitable clothing and I was bantering with the shop assistants, happily dropping the hint that AC2 was looking for part-time work – as you do when you’re being a pushy parent and you want the dialogue to be steered in a particular direction. Unfortunately for AC2, who is unaware of the ways of the world, he missed the queues and his answers to one particular store manager were less than ideal. That was really tough for me to witness but felt it was important not to add my comments to the discussion taking place. Add to that the fact we were buying clothes he wouldn’t normally wear in his day-to-day routine, and it was certainly eye-opening for him to realise that in this modern world of ours you will need to look a certain way, speak a certain way and behave a certain way if he is to be considered for an interview in the whole uber-competitive job-seeking process.

A bit like my post where I wrote about “faking it till you make it”, I explained that he’ll need to give the sorts of answers employers want to hear, look the way they’ll expect him to look and behave in a manner that is more outgoing to his normal self. Sort of putting on a mask and ‘faking it until he makes it’. With the sort of person AC2 is, it will possibly be the only way to make it through job interviews. Then employers will see that he is indeed a hard worker and realise that not everyone can be an extrovert and that introverts do have their positive qualities too.

I thought the difficult parenting days were behind me, but each stage of their growing up seems to throw new challenges that leave me flummoxed.

 

A Touch of Paint Can Make the Difference

And just out of the frame is the crumpled tracksuit, comfy slippers, and fluffy dressing gown...

And just out of the frame of this image is the crumpled tracksuit, comfy slippers, and fluffy dressing gown…

Today is a grey, drizzly, misty sort of day. There’s a slight wind and looking out my windows I can see the bare branches laden with birds, rocking gently in the cold wind. Today is the  sort of day when staying indoors is the best option. In fact the sort of day when staying in bed reading a favourite book is the best option. The trouble with that, is you can’t spend every grey, drizzly and misty day indoors and under the covers of the comfy bed. Literally or metaphorically.

I’ve come to the realisation that I probably have a touch of SAD – see what I’ve done there. I don’t even want to admit it to myself that I definitely have it; probably just a touch of it. It is far easier to stay indoors and nest. I know I’m doing it and I can see I’m doing it. It’s also very bad for me. My comfort zone shrinks markedly and causes anxiety to reign once again. And that’s bad. This morning I forced myself to leave the house, even if it was just for a couple of hours. But before I did, I applied make up and curled my hair, I accessorised and dressed accordingly, as if I was meeting friends for a drink after work.  Now, I know what some of you out there might be thinking – what’s with applying make-up etc etc before leaving the house? Is this the 1950’s? No, it’s not that at all. For me, it establishes a routine. It forces me to shed the comfy wear and it may even be a touch of putting on a mask or a brave face, like the phrase “fake it till you make it”. If I can fake that I’m happy to be out there in shopping land looking all fabulous, then it might just convince me that I’m ok and I can keep venturing out.

Plus, my winged eyeliner looks a killer today – and that’s always something to celebrate!

And I’ll have to repeat this process tomorrow and I forgot to buy the milk!

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