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Let’s Hug It Out

Get your free hugs today!

Get your free hugs today!

When was the last time you gave out a hug? A full on, heartfelt hug? Was it to your partner, your children, your parents, your friends, your work mates? If you can’t remember the last time you gave out a hug, can I suggest you don’t leave it any longer and just hug your loved ones when you next see them. You don’t even need to speak words when you’re hugging, just wrap your arms around them and hold them tight. Without sounding too morose, none of us ever know whether the next hug we give will be our last, so give them out freely and without feeling embarrassed. Life is too short to miss out on hugs. Go on, go and give out some hugs – before I make you say “I love you” as well! Here’s my hug to you: (((   )))


day two – chocolate free

Anxiety – the Gift that Keeps on Giving

It doesn't seem fair that some days are best spent viewing the world rather than being in it.

It doesn’t seem fair that some days are best spent viewing the world rather than being in it.

Anxiety is such a burdensome emotion. I know that back in prehistoric times it came in handy with the whole fight or flight thing. These days, the fight or flight reaction those of us who experience anxiety can be quite an exaggerated feeling that escalates out of our control and not only saps us of our energy but also any enjoyment we’d derive from what it was we felt anxious about.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the origins of my anxiety. I still haven’t found the initial triggers. Maybe it’s just my make-up, my genetics. I do remember one particular episode vividly – feeling horribly sick on the day I was to attend a wedding. I had never been to a wedding, I was in my late teens and I was a plus one invite. I had no involvement in the day and the whole thing was promised as a relaxed and casual affair. Yet the horrible feeling of dread followed by hours in the bathroom unable to leave, not only meant that I almost missed the day, but I was left drained and horribly confused at this over-reaction by my body. I could not understand why my heart raced, my mouth was dry, why was I shaking, and the tremendous stomach cramps that came in waves, topped with my inability to leave the bathroom – and all of this an out of the blue and quite sudden reaction much like and on/off switch. All this over being a guest at a wedding? Anyone on the outside of this situation would think this was one mighty nervous over-reaction that I should have been able to switch off. I knew I should be able to switch it off, yet my body, and mind, thought otherwise.

To go through life with bouts of this sort of anxiety is one thing, but it’s pretty tough going when you see your kids suffer the same fate. As a parent I feel helpless that I can’t stop their symptoms. I see their anxiety pattern and it’s the same as mine. There’s never a rhyme or reason for when an episode is triggered – an exam: not always; a much anticipated concert: sometimes; a dinner out with friends: sometimes; heading off to work and uni: sometimes. There’s no pattern, the anxiety has a mind of it’s own. I guess I need to accept this is how I am. This is how my sons are too. I hope they can make decisions in life based on what they want, and not based on what their anxiety rules.


day one, chocolate free

My Kingdom for Some Chocolate

Right...Ok...And that's your final slogan?

Right…Ok…And that’s your final slogan?

Ummm… I’m not sure what’s more offensive to me – the advert from the middle of last century I’ve posted here, or the confession I was going to get off my chest. The one where I admit to have consumed an obscene amount of chocolate over the past few days and I see no end in sight for that bad behaviour.

Let’s talk about the former. Take a look at that slogan – A woman’s place is in the home eating After Eight and looking beautiful. Wow. So that’s how we once were. Portraying the little woman as a showpiece, a shiny object you would place on your mantle piece for your guests to admire. There she is in her tidy home, the latest homewares, and dressed in what looks like the current season shot taffeta coat dress trimmed with ostrich feathers. Ever the attentive hostess, and one that serves her guests only the very best. After Eight mints. As long as women conformed to societal demands then all was ok in the world. Of men. I have a few copies of magazines from that same era and all the adverts are the same. Telling women what they needed to do in order to keep their men, their neighbours and society happy. Not much has changed since then, we’re still being told how to dress, how to look, it’s just the messaging is a little more subtle and perhaps even a little more insidious. If you think we’re a little more liberated now then take a look at this link of the case of the 19 year old model who complained after being excessively photoshopped. And if you think that’s a one off, then simply type in “model photoshop” into your favourite search engine and check out the results. Society still wants it’s women to look beautiful. Society would no doubt still like us to be in the home, but knows there’s no subtle way of having that as a slogan especially now that we’re told we ‘can have it all’.

That brings me to my confession and my dilemma. I’ve always been a chocoholic. There have been times where I have gone cold turkey and stopped all forms of chocolate consumption, but that was to prove a point. I see my chocolate addiction as one would a nicotine addiction. I won’t get the tarred lungs a nicotine addict would, but I’ll have the biggest barge arse and thunderous thighs this side of chocolateville. And that’s a bad thing. Not because society does’t like fat people (it doesn’t), not just because I’m vain (ok, I am but aren’t you?), not just because it won’t impact on my health yet (it so will impact on my health) but because I’m seeing it as an underlying problem to something else that’s eating me. Eating chocolate and anything containing chocolate seems easier that working out what it is that is leaving me dissatisfied, wanting, missing… As a middle-aged and menopausal grouch, can I even blame it on hormones? An imbalance of minerals my body needs? An emotional hole that needs filling? Or most horrific of all – am I simply totally greedy (and greed is bad, therefore my behaviour is bad. Very bad).

Whichever way you look at it, this chocolate addiction has to stop. I don’t know how or when, but I know that if I eat chocolate at the rate I have, my place will definitely be in the home as I won’t fit into any of my clothes and I very much doubt I’ll be looking beautiful as there’s nothing beautiful about a really grouchy, greedy, spotty, roly-poly middle aged menopausal chocoholic.

Let The Music Play

Music is my time machine

Music is my time machine

Isn’t it something when a song or even an album can transport you back to where you were the first time you heard it? I’ve been listening to some older style music this weekend and feel as though transported back to the 70’s via a music-propelled time machine. If I squint my eyes and only concentrate a little, I’m in the lounge room belonging to friends of my parents. Their older teenage kids are playing the music on their stereo while the adults are sitting outside smoking and chatting or maybe they’ve gone for a stroll. The lunch dishes have just been done, our tummies are full and I was about to cosy myself on their lounge with a pillow on my lap and open up the pages of my new book I’d brought with me. But the music is so very loud and I can feel the beat  moving through me, even though the stereo is at the other end of the house. I’m too young to hang out with the teens and happily sit on my own listening to what is clearly their new favourite album. And after all these years when I hear that album, I’m back in their house – I can clearly visualise the layout of their home, the trinkets sitting on the doilies on the coffee table, the family photos hanging on the walls, I can tell you where the glasses go in which cupboards, the old timber outdoor setting that the parents are probably sitting at that either needs repainting or should be thrown out it’s so badly worn out, I can smell the kitchen smells from our recent lunch, yesterday’s paper sits on the table in the hallway with the house keys sitting on top of it. Without that soundtrack playing, I can transport myself to that place and that time but nowhere as clearly or detailed as when that music plays. I can even feel just how I felt in the world when I’m in a moment like this.

And then there’s the song that is played on those nostalgia radio stations that I try not to listen to as I really can’t stand radio advertisements. I just need to hear the very first bar of the song, the twang of the guitar, and I’m back to my early uni days driving to classes and hoping against hope that my car won’t break down. I can feel the heat of the day, the smell of my car, the feel of timber in my hands as I grip the steering wheel and feel the breeze in my hair because who had air conditioning back then. Most of the time, I do make it to uni without the car breaking down.

I just love these sorts of moments. I do keep telling myself that my memory of life from all that time ago isn’t the best, and I don’t know if that makes it worse – telling myself that I can’t remember – or whether it’s totally normal not to remember life from long ago in great detail. My reference points are gone. Whatever the case, it gives me comfort when I do hear certain songs that evoke these strong sensations that take me back to another time so long ago. What’s interesting, is that not all songs do this – and that could be a good thing, or else I’d be in a squinty daydream for all my life!

A Clarifying Moment

Dear Life, What shall I be one day?

Dear Life, What shall I be one day?

Earlier this year I quit the job I had as I found it was stressing me more than the health issues I was experiencing, and that didn’t seem right. Work was meant to distract me from life. And speaking with a couple of my ex-colleagues, it seems the issues at that workplace have continued and it was a good move to quit.

This year has been one of ups and downs. It’s during times like these that I begin to question just what it is I want from life, what is my purpose in life, and will I wake up one day and work out what it is I want to do with the rest of my life. Add to that the fact that I now had to look for a new job, and you can imagine how anxious I became with the start of each day as I would try and work out what sort of job I should look for. I think it’s one thing to not know what to do with your life when you’re young and have a few career changes ahead of you but when you’re a middle-aged and menopausal woman and you can see the finish line ahead of you, there’s a certain desperation that creeps in and consumes you. Thankfully – and goodness knows how I came across this, probably twitter – I came across the TedX Talk by Emilie Wapnick. What an awakening! I cried when I watched this video. I had no idea there was such a thing as being a multipotentialite or that it was ok not to have that a-ha moment of sheer clarity about what you wanted to do with life. I look at MOTH and he’s doing what he’s always loved and been doing it all his career, and no doubt will continue until he retires. Many of my friends have careers they decided upon and have worked towards achieving their career goals and are very happy and fulfilled. And then there was me. Sure I completed a degree when getting a degree wasn’t the common thing it is now. Sure, I’ve had jobs before, during and after having the boys. But I was sure that one day I’d wake up and just know I’d work out what I wanted to be when I grew up. But – I just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting these a-ha moments like everyone else I knew. Watching Wapnick’s video left me feeling that it was ok by me to just go and get a job, stop looking for a ‘career’ and to continue pursuing other creative avenues as part of my personal hobbies. Although I’m sure that many multipotentialites are far cleverer than me and go and obtain multiple qualifications and go and put them to good use.* I can’t tell you what a relief this has been. Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments of doubt – is it really ok not to know what you want to do with your life? (yes, I want to photograph and write and draw and paint and garden and travel – do I want them as my job, my ‘career’, I don’t know). For now, I’m happy to have my little stress-free job and to come home and pursue my creative interests. And that is a weight off my mind.


* This concept of putting together all your skills to good use as those multipotentialites in Wapnick’s video does stress me a little – why can’t I do something clever with all my skills and earn my living that way… For now, I will try and concentrate on the fact it’s ok to flit from one thing to another. Phew.


Dear Friends, Please Excuse Her Absence…

Tonight, I just didn't feel like being social...

Tonight, I just didn’t feel like being social…

At this moment I shouldn’t be sitting in my study tapping at a blog post. I should be enjoying a bbq with a group of girlfriends and enjoying their food, their drink, their chatter and their laughs. Instead I am in my pj’s and almost ready for bed with no explanation for it other than perhaps a bit of burning the candle at both ends and a bit of that anxiety chatter that convinces you that staying within your own four walls is far better than getting out there among the world.

This can be a real struggle sometimes and it’s only recently that I’ve realised that it’s a ‘thing’ and that others also experience this struggle of wanting to be social yet also wanting to stay in your one-person blanket fort. In fact I came across a wonderful list of signs that you’re really an extrovert with social anxiety, but do you think I can find it and link it here – no… Of course not, because that’s how the internet works. You can only find things by accident and then never re-find them again.

So, this leads to questions – is it possible to push through that anxiety and listen to the extrovert part of the personality? Could the social anxiety be the cause of the chocolate eating binges (wowee, how nice is dark chocolate rum and raisin?!)? Is it possible to find a happy balance? Why don’t we talk about this more often so that we can recognise the behaviour and help each other out?

In the meantime, I’m going to try establishing a new routine. I stay up way too late, and this leads to all sorts of complications; I also need to walk my dog more often and not just say that I will and then make excuses for why I don’t (that damned blanket fort…!) I hope my girlfriends will understand. They know me well and perhaps even half expected it. Tonight I listened to the anxiety. Next time, my girlfriends will no doubt convince me to ignore those feelings and I know they will be right.

Oh – I forgot the Title! Oops!

There are some days that this is how I view the world, and this space.

There are some days that this is how I view the world, and this space.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like typing at these keys. I’ve not forgotten about this space, in fact on some days I’ve logged on to view it, only to log off again and think about what I could have tapped out here. Does any of it matter? Will my mind quieten a little if I tap at the keys to get the thoughts out? And why not just write in an old fashioned journal? It seems weird, but when I tap at the keys and see the layout in front of me, I can pretend for that short time that I’m saying something important. Yet when I think of writing in a journal I think of those teenage angst-ridden diaries complete with keys and dodgy locks, and the writing is most definitely not important. And then I think of the journal I’ve kept since the eldest was a toddler and how by now there should have been volumes of them – recounting the various episodes of his and his brother’s life – and it sits there in the back of the wardrobe, half complete. And the guilt mounts up… What is it that keeps me from committing to some tasks and not others, like this writing caper? I’ve been reading a few posts about anxiety in recent days and it makes sense, the what I do and how I do it. Explains a lot actually. So, I’m going to try and get past that barrier – is this important or not; will it makes sense; what if no one reads it; what if some people do read it;what if I over/under share; I’m going to try and not give a jot.

Just English

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Authentically Aurora



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