Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Things May Just Be Turning Around For Us...

We've had a rough trot since the beginning of 2009 with one challenge after another, but it's beginning to feel like things may be turning around for us. Let me count the ways.

Today is the absolute last deadline for Erik to submit his painting for the Local Landscapes exhibition at the Ian Potter Annex at Federation Square. If you're a Melbournian, or visiting in the next little while, be sure to check it out, it's very handy to Flinders Street Station, on Federation Square. Most of the art is by Australian grade six students and you might spot a future national treasure! Of course, to me, my son is already a treasure and I'm so proud of his painting.


We're all thankful it's finally finished! Now he'll have a break for a couple of weeks and then he'll get started on a painting for the Artist Camp Fair Art Show - he's hoping to sell and make a bit of pocket money!

This week our laundry flooded. The Grumpy Old Man realised the water was coming from our new (to us) front loader washing machine. So far this isn't sounding like our luck is changing, but keep reading... The thought of having to get a new washing machine when we just sold our perfectly good washing machine to make room for this one was gnawing at me when I rang the repair company and arranged a looksee for yesterday. Luckily for us, it was just little feeder hose which has worked its way loose, probably due to the move from South Australia to Melbourne. So, the total cost of fixing the machine was only $55! Woot!

I'm very thankful to a friend for starting a Facebook page for new vegans. I've been trying to transition to a vegan lifestyle for years. A lot of people feel threatened by others making different choices to them. They feel those different choices are somehow a judgement of them. Sometimes making different choices does come with a side serve of judgement from some people, but unfortunately that judgemental behaviour then stigmatises other people who make the same choices but bear no judgement of others. It's incredibly unfair, really. I want to be vegan but I also totally get that other people don't and I'm fine with that because there are plenty of things I don't want to be or do that other people think are very important, too. Anyway, coming up against ridicule when trying to make a change in one's life which is significant (to me) can make changing so much harder than it needs to be. It is nice to have a place of support and sharing successes and challenges and I'm very thankful for that.

I am thankful for the opportunity to buy two couches and a television stand which will mean everyone in our family can sit down in our lounge room at once (without someone having to sit on the coffee table or the floor). I didn't think we'd have the money to do this but then we received an unexpected amount in our account - exactly what we needed for these items. Then, of course, the washing machine died and I thought we might have to spend the windfall on getting a new one, but we didn't, yay! Sadly, this opportunity comes at the cost of farewelling friends. However, I'm thankful to have made these friends and thankful that modern technology will mean being able to keep in touch quite easily!

I am thankful to have heard that a publisher is considering the idea of publishing a series of young adult fantasy novels for school kids and is interested in my manuscript. While nothing may come of this, I'm thankful for the interest - I was beginning to think this little novel might be a dead weight.

I am thankful for all the support I've had over the past fortnight for getting my PhD proposal together and for having a plan of action which might even bring some extra income into this house (via a scholarship).

Yes, I think things are starting to turn around for us. I'm thankful for seeing a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel!

Linking up with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday...

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oh, that's right, I have a blog...

My poor, neglected readers!

I've been a bit slack lately, my apologies.

Life is being, well, life, and getting in the way of blogging.

I have so many things I could write about, want to write about, but then I get distracted.

So, this blog post is going to be another one of those, 'Catch up on Sif's crazy world' type of posts... Here goes.

Adelaide Trip

This went well. I've nailed down - okay, blue tacked down - my PhD thesis topic. I've been warned to keep schtum about it because, well, it's just so brilliant! Actually because it's a relatively new area of research, and being so new, it's wide open - which is great for me, but also a bit tricky... I can tell you it has nothing to do with Icelandic folklore, but is something I'm very excited about nonetheless. Once I've had my proposal accepted, I'll tell you all about it.

I have the proposal well under way and, with any luck, will have it submitted by the end of July. Woot! It's all happening here!

The Kids

Luey just had a birthday on Monday and turned eleven. I felt a bit bad about not blogging this milestone, but at the same time there wasn't much to blog. He turned eleven, got a set of groovy headphones, some lego, and a promise voucher for a Master's Sonic Screwdriver (what every eleven year old wants, right?). Oh, and an iTunes card; which reminds me I want to say something about kids presents these days, but that is a blog for another day - maybe tomorrow!

Isn't he gorgeous?!

Report cards came home on Friday while I was away in Adelaide. Erik got four Bs! He'd never received a B until the end of last year and none of the other boys have ever had Bs (our school doesn't hand them out that often, generally speaking, though there are some kids who get them routinely - not my kids!). We were stoked! Then the Grumpy Old Man told me what the Bs were for - and not to detract from Erik's achievements, I have to say report cards these days confuse me...

He got Bs for Interpersonal Development, The Arts, Information and Communication Technology, and Thinking Processes. The Arts and ICT are classes, as such (ICT being integrated into all classes but also having some time just for itself). What is Interpersonal Development? What is Thinking Processes? I'm imagining he's getting a B in 'Making Friends' and in 'Thinking'...

I'm very pleased he is good, even great, at making friends - he certainly didn't get that ability from me! I'll claim some responsibility for the B in 'Thinking', though, if that's okay...

When I was a kid, reports were so much more simple; Reading, Writing, Maths, Geography... None of this making friends and thinking esoterica.

While we're talking about Erik, here's why he got a B in 'The Arts'...


Are you sick of seeing pictures of Erik's painting yet? Well, today is his very last opportunity to finish it. He has to hand it in tomorrow for the exhibition opening at the Ian Potter Annex at Federation Square on Sunday. He's had yesterday and today off school to complete it (last minute rush - thank goodness the last week of school is always a bit of a slack week anyway). Call it homeschooling!

The Grumpy Old Man

His actual licence arrived on Monday. He won't let me take a picture of it - he's so mean! The mother-of-all-pimples is beautifully obscured by some print. He looks like someone you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley - I think it's AWESOME!

We're working on the issue of getting a car and are thinking of possibly using the tax money we were going to put aside for Erik's high school uniform, books, and fees to get a car instead. The thinking is that with a car the GOM might have a better chance at getting a job which would then pay for all the high school stuff, and more.

It's a gamble though. I don't know. We don't have to decide just yet.

Last night he had a terrible nightmare. I don't know what it was about but I was woken by his making a noise and then shuddering. I couldn't tell if he was laughing in his sleep or crying. It was the latter. He didn't want to talk about it. The very odd thing is that he remembers the dream vividly and usually he doesn't remember his dreams; they're just a jumble of chaos. I find this unsettling.

Fear and Anger


Not mine.

I still can't shake the feeling that there is so much fear and anger in society these days. The other night I felt all but compelled to wash myself down with scrubbing brush to try and rid myself of the grittiness of it all.

Take Mia Freedman, for example, and her article attacking women who write birth plans and placenta plans in an attempt to control the outcomes of their labour - 'birthzillas' she calls them, dripping with mockery.

I don't disagree with all her points. I also believe you can't control birth - whether you actively avoid hospitals and any form of medical supervision, or if you actively opt for an epidural on arrival and a c-section. Control is an illusion when it comes to birth. Influence, however, is not and many women write birth plans  to have some influence over outcomes rather than simply handing themselves unquestioningly over to people who fear natural processes, as Mia evidently does.

Mia's fear of birth is palpable. Time and again she's said it is dangerous and time and again she focuses on the possibility of death over life - even though all statistics (from all quarters) show that the likelihood of surviving birth (both for mother and baby) is far greater, even in the darkest Amazon, than not surviving it.

So, Mia's fear leads her to mock women who don't or won't make the same fear-charged choices as her, and she doesn't understand their level of trust (of course, she doesn't, she has too much fear).

But Mia isn't alone in her fear.

It seems most of society is suffering from this deadly disease.

Fear is what causes people to hate other people because they're different looking, different sounding, different choosing.

Fear causes people to kill their children.

Fear causes people to ridicule one another and nitpick and snipe and troll.

All this fear leads to anger as people defend themselves and their choices, or question themselves and their choices and fear losing their own understanding of who they actually are.

Some people seem to thrive on spreading fear. Politicians excel at this.

This morning I read about an article which suggested the Labor party is focusing on 'mummy bloggers' as 'soft voters' as a vehicle to sell their policies. Apparently, this information was given to the media from within the Labor Party.

Using the word 'soft' to refer to women was almost guaranteed to raise hackles. To what end? To create resistance to the Labor Party? Why would Labor MPs want to do that? Is it because the party is still split, despite cries of unity? Or is it a beat up from conservatively controlled media? Using the word 'soft' rather than 'swinging' also creates fear, particularly for women who fear being viewed as soft, because soft is equated with 'weak'. Why is 'soft' the same as 'weak'? Is it because men are not viewed as 'soft' - says who?



It all comes back to fear. Fear and anger. There is plenty to go around... Pull up a chair, have a slice, but watch out, it'll go straight to your nerves!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thankful Thursday: The Winter Solstice Edition...

It's Thankful Thursday again, of course, I was always going to post today because I'm ever so thankful the Grumpy Old Man passed his licence test last Monday!

I have much more to be thankful for though...

I am thankful that today is the winter solstice, the very sgortest day of the year, which means as of tomorrow the days will only get longer and brighter and warmer until just before Christmas!

I am thankful to be in Adelaide today in the rarified academic atmosphere of Tabor College where I undertook my Writing Masters! 

I'm thankful the Grumpy Old Man is okay with me taking off for a few days while he has the kids, so I can focus fully on preparing to write the propsal for the PhD I want to do very soon!

I am thankful for conversations with people that help my sort out exactly how I want to approach this thesis.

I am thankful for school mums who help ferry 6 year olds to and from concerts when their own mum has abandoned them to 'pursue her career'!

I am thankful that thus month's giant pimple is hidden under my hairline!

I am thankful the school kids payment is paid according to age rather than grade!

I am thankful for hot pies on cold rainy days!

What are you thankful for?

Linking up with Kate Says Stuff for Thankfult Thursday!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Going to Adelaide in the morning, but before I go...

Tonight, I'm so so happy!

I have a sense of happiness which is quiet, but loud at the same time. I want to yell it from the roof tops.

Today the Grumpy Old Man...

~ after 3 years, four months, and one week of studying, practicing and testing
~ after thousands of dollars spent on lessons
~ after putting up with untold hours of my nagging and lamenting over the past eight years (at least) and most intensely in the past five years
~ after trying one mode, then changing to another
~ after having three different instructors (though one only for one lesson)
~ after eight failed attempts at the final test

GOT HIS DRIVER'S LICENCE!

Yes he did!

I'm so proud of him for his determination and dedication and for facing his fears and well and truly overcoming them, for mastering a skill he never even desired to attain, for putting the needs of his wife and his children first and for never giving up!

This morning I was convinced he wouldn't pass. I told him I didn't think he'd pass today and that if he wasn't absolutely sure he would, I was more than happy to save the $140 we'd lose if he did the test and failed. He just smiled and said he would pass. He even joked that he knew he would pass because he had a rare for him pimple on his chin and so, of course he'd pass and have his licence photo taken on the very day he felt like he was growing a second head.

I was wrong. I have never been so thrilled to be wrong!

He passed and we're still pinching ourselves because it feels like such an epic journey - almost all of Ari's life!


Now we just need to source a car on a budget of nothing, hahaha!

But he's a man with a licence!

I want to thank everyone who has encouraged us both along the way, all the people who have helped - his parents and my parents especially, Robert and Carl (his two main instructors), our friends who have let him practice in their cars - Ian, Stuart and Jayne and everyone who offered to let him drive their car as well. I want to thank everyone who kept the faith that one day he would get his licence, we appreciate you rooting for him!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Meet the school mums, Protect the Astor, Meet the friends - Call me Superwoman!

If you popped by earlier because you saw this heading in your blog roll or RSS feed and then found it completely empty - you'll already know I'm no Superwoman... I wrote the heading, then got distracted by upset three year old and posted it, oops!

Okay, what I was going to say - before I got distracted - was that I've had a huge weekend and today I'm totally wiped out, but at the same time I have a great sense of satisfaction over all I've personally achieved.

I've had agoraphobia for many, many years - I first became aware of it during my second pregnancy, and received counselling for it after Lukas was born. For the most part, since then I've kept it in check by forcing myself to get out enough that I don't become crippled by anxiety.

This year though, anxiety and agoraphobia has been kicking my butt. I'm desperate to get out of the house but most days I just can't. The thought of going out there - even just to pick the kids up from school - fills me with trepidation, I get panicky and can easily come up with a multiple reasons I can afford to put whatever off.

Cold weather makes finding excuses easier - and consequently make the agoraphobia worse.

I realised about a month ago that it was get really, really bad when I didn't even want to go out to my own mailbox.

I'm not sure I can really communicate effectively what the anxiety is about - something about not being able to see and worrying about being hit by cars, or bumping into people and annoying them, or getting lost, or taking the wrong public transport, but also about being 'in the way' and 'taking up space' without a valid reason (I never go out without a purpose because of those last two concerns).

So, using cognitive behaviour strategies, I knew I had to challenge myself, to prove my fears baseless.

I signed up to be a volunteer at the Emerging Writer's Festival and while I felt physically ill that first night going to the launch of The Emerging Writer - it was okay, I was of use to those around me. I felt good - and I got to be around writerly types (always a bonus!).

The next day, I even chatted with some really lovely people, which was really encouraging.

Bouyed by these little successes, I accepted an invitation to a 'mum's night out' with one of my sons' classes. Let me tell you, I've never been to one of these 'parent get togethers' without the support of the Grumpy Old Man or another 'trusted known person'. This time, however, I didn't know if anyone I knew, even vaguel, would be going. I didn't organise to leave the house with anyone. I just went - on my own - to a place I'd never been to before to meet people I'd never spoken to before (as far as I knew).

And I had fun!

And I found I had stuff in common with these women - besides just having kids in the same class. There is even a Danish mum in the group - and our kids have been at school together every week since the beginning of the year and I didn't know that! I didn't sit like a lump at the end of the table feel uncomfortable. I actually managed to seat myself very centrally so I could participate in conversations to my left and to my right. It was good and the women were all very open and friendly and not scary at all! That was friday night.

Yesterday morning, we'd planned as a family to go to the Protect the Astor rally at the Astor Cinema in Windsor. That meant herding cats kids through large crowds of people. Not at all my favourite thing to do.

However, we love the Astor. The Astor is the most beautiful cinema in Melbourne (and we've been to many, many cinemas in this city), but as it is currently owned by St Michael's Grammar School, plans have been announced to cease public screenings at the Astor so the school can use the property privately (The Most Beautiful Uniform Shop in Melbourne, was suggest yesterday). This would be an enormous loss to the culture of Melbourne.

There was to be a free screening of Labyrinth and as Ari had never been to the Astor we thought this would be a prime opportunity for him to have his first experience there as well as for us to support the protection of the public's right to experience this iconic Melbourne institution.

Let me share some photos from the event.

Some of the Art Deco decor...




If you want to support the Astor as a public cinema check out these  links: twitter.com/FOTAAInc #ProtectTheAstor, Facebook.com/friendsoftheastor, Change.org/astor


Before the movie there was a Jaffa roll! The Sunday Herald has reported that this did not go ahead... Yes, well, here's picture evidence it did - and the kids loved it!


Finally after many speeches - including one on-screen by Tracy Bartram - and just a little whining from Bryn ('Is the movie going to start sooooooooon?)...


It began! With much cheering and applause from the excited audience at the first sighting of Bowie on screen...


When the movie finished I even managed to run into a tweep! That is; a person I know through Twitter but haven't met in real life. I felt a bit bad about having to say a very quick, 'Oh, HAI! So lovely to meet you in person!' and then having to go because while Bryn and I had been seated downstairs, the Grumpy Old Man and Ari were upstairs in one section and Erik and Luey were upstairs in a different section, and I was certain the Grumpy Old Man would be stressing (and I was right)...

Just as we were leaving, I took this photo of the Astor sign (which I realised when I got home was obscured by a street light)...


There was talk yesterday that St Michael's may be open to selling the Astor, and that possibly the public may be able to support the purchase of the cinema (through buying shares in it, I'm assuming). The Grumpy Old Man and I would love to be part of something like that!

Almost as soon as we got home, I was headed out again. This time with good friends, so not so much a challenge to my agoraphobia as a reward for having put 'myself out' there this weekend.

We went to Las Vegan Bakery in Collingwood and had pizza (me) and other goodies, followed by a sparkly mini chilli chocolate cupcake (again, me)... And it was so lovely to downscale the social scene to just three people in a tiny cafe talking about life (and of course, a few things vegan) since the last catch-up!

YUMMY!

So, that's how I was Superwoman this weekend - in my own, private, little way!

Do you challenge yourself to be Superwoman for your own wellbeing?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fear is the root of anger...

I have seen so much anger recently.

I keep waiting for the anger to abate, but it never does, in all these years since I realised I inhabited an adult world and was no longer protected by childhood, I've notice that anger is everywhere.

I feel a lot of it myself, so there is a distinct possibility I may be projecting.

Then again, maybe not. Even as I type this, I can hear in the background a radio national host asking an interviewee if they feel anger. People are very attuned to this feeling in this day and age.

I've spoken about the two base emotions before; fear and love, and today I thought I'd speak about fear again.

You see fear is the basis of anger (and in fact, every negative emotion).

source

Fear is an important emotion and we need it to stay alive. Without fear we would walk of cliff sides and eat glass.

A lot of modern evangelists (of all varieties; religious, business, birth etc.) encourage people to go forth without fear, or even to ignore their fear and do it anyway...

In birthing circles, a lot of choices come as a result of fear run rampant; at one extreme you have medical types saying caesarians are the safest options because the risks can be controlled and at the other extreme the only safest way to birth is as far away from medical training as possible. Both the result of great fear.

The Prime Minister was on Q&A the other night, and yet again the question arose, why if she is not personally opposed to gay marriage will she not advocate for it's legitimisation. The PM responded that it was an old Australian institution and people had a right to maintain its original integrity. This response was one of fear. Fear of upsetting a powerful lobby group whose motives are prejudice and based on fear; the fear that homosexuality might be legitimised and might 'infect' people previous protected from it by law. Irrational fear.

Another conversation I participated in this week was as a result of news that the three year old health check for children would, in future, include a mental health assessment and issues such as fear of the dark, extreme shyness or prolonged tantruming might be interpreted as mental illness. Many parents reacted in fear; the fear that their child might be misdiagnosed and forced to take medications. (It would be extremely difficult to enforce medication taking in families who were not open to this method of treatment) Some were afraid parents who 'didn't know better' might 'fall for a misdiagnosis' and medicate their children needlessly instead of just parenting the child.

I realised that while I might have felt fear and anger about this in the past, I now feel that people have to live their own lives and make their own decisions - whether or not I believe they are right or wrong.

Some might argue that others 'doing it wrong' will impact society negatively in the long term, but for some reason I can't live in fear of what might happen some way down the track. I can't afford to invest energy in fear and anger, other than what is immediately a threat to those I love in this lifetime.

Some may say that is selfish. That I am only thinking about myself as an individual. Perhaps this is true.

I ask though, it is any less selfish to hound other people because you have a fear they don't have? Do we have a right to direct our fear in the form of anger at others because we don't like their understanding of how things are?

Why are people so keen to feed fear and to incite anger? Isn't there already enough in this world to keep us all miserable most of the time?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Come here puppy, come to mummy!

I'm battling the black dog at the moment. It annoys because my rational mind says, 'You know it's in the house, just shoo it out, tell it go away, kick it to the curb!'

Life isn't bad.

Sure the Grumpy Old Man still doesn't have a job or his licence, but we're doing okay and let's face it, we've been doing okay all this time. With some [occassionally dodgy] budgeting, we're making it work. I could still buy Erik that coat he's been wanting for weeks now, and I'm going out for dinner next Friday night, so it can't be that bad.

There are no pressures on me that I haven't heaped on myself. No one is making me write for blog hops or fellowships or degree proposals.

We passed the house inspection with flying colours last Wednesday and have asked for another 12 month contract.

Erik is going gangbusters with his painting.

My parents are now on talking terms.

MIL's health is good and, more importantly, stable.

My cousins all over the world are having babies at a rate of knots - oh, how I'd love to be able to catch up in person and meet all these gorgeous new people!

Basically, there is nothing wrong.

But that bloody hound keeps showing up under my feet, tripping me up, being a nuisance.

Last night I had a self-loathing party for one. They're always fun - how many ways can I hate myself, let's see... No, I won't recount them all here, suffice it to say my shortcomings are amazingly disproportionate with my awesomeness on nights like last night.

I'm over it now. I know - rationally - I'm not a complete failure, a loser with a capital 'L'...

But, that dog is still writhing in existential angst over there in the corner, behind me.

I want to run away. I looked up flights and coach time tables yesterday to see if I could afford to run away in financial and time measures, but things like an upcoming driving test for the Grumpy Old Man are getting in my way time wise, and no, I can't afford the flight tickets.

Bugger.

Also, I seem to have lost faith in everything.

I am faithless. A blank sheet in terms of believing in anything. I would say this is how an atheist feels except without the hopelessness. Most atheists I've met don't feel this hopeless - what's with that?

I'm beginning to think that any form of faith is simply the hope of having control. If a person is good they will be rewarded by God or the gods - it's a form of manipulation of the powers that be, or alternatively, if they are part of the universal essence (a god in their own right) then they can influence the flow of energy to make their own life easier and more pleasant. Faith always seems to about getting something, about being rewarded.

If there is nothing other than what we see, if life just happens in some sort of chaotic momentary cause and effect with no long term overarching 'plan' and then it ends with nothing beyond the corporeal, then we can affect change through sheer hard work, right?

Except that doesn't seem to work either.

Of course, I could just be doing it 'rong...

Maybe I'm being punished for being faithless?

Well, except for the whole having food on the table, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our head, and except for the fact that little things do seem to go our way a lot. Not that I'm not grateful, it's just a funny kind of punishment - death by a thousand paper cuts?

I don't know.

The uncertainty, the standing on the edge of precipice, that constant feeling that one wrong move could bring all out lives falling down like a card house, is doing my head in.

But maybe I need to let go, because nothing is falling right now and experience has told me I can neither predict nor influence future events.

All I have is right now, and right now we're okay.

If only I could get this black dog to leave.

source

Do you battle the black dog? Do you know - rationally - that it has no reason for hanging around? How do you shoo it away?

 

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Everything in balance - a zen kind of life.

I'm feeling the zen today!

On Thursday I blogged about how awesome I am. Most of the time I really do feel that I'm pretty damn awesome. I also feel that a lot of people just don't see how awesome I am, and it's constantly a shock to my system when I realise they're just not seeing it!

Then I have days like today.

Days where I've just discovered two of my children conspired to steal a $20 note from my desk and take it to school and shout themselves and some friends to goodies from the canteen - if only one of them hadn't lost the note between leaving the house and canteen time...

Days where I see that my children are able to perpetuate a charade of 'looking for the note' for THREE HOURS!

Days where I watch them try to put the blame on each other or on their baby brother.

Days where I know I haven't managed to submit anything to a really inspiring blog hop and I won't get to it today either.

Days where I realise it's the 9th of the month already and I've only written about 500 words of the 15 000 words I should have on paper now out of the 50 000 words I signed up to write in June.

Days when I have an application I need to put in by Friday but I have no idea what I'm going to put on it yet.

Days where I wish I could be all the things I know I can be if I could just pull my shit together long enough to actually make it happen!

These are the zen days, the days when I just have to sit back and exhale and accept that life is a balance. I get a lot of awesome; more than enough awesome when I'm prepared to see it. And so, the pendulum must sometimes swing the other way or my life would become unbalanced and eventually tip right over - because balance must always be maintained even if it means heady heights followed by catastrophe.

Economic rationalists would have us believe the economy can grow and grow and grow ad infinitum. Some spiritualists would have us believe we can be only and always happy with everything always going our way to the heady heights of success.

A lot of our society eschews pain. We don't see the necessity for it. We medicate against it, we vaccinate against it, we run away from it. We believe in learning without mistakes, doing without failure. We can't bear the thought of being weak, a loser, unpopular, a failure.

I believe you cannot have success without failure, happiness without sadness, pleasure without pain.
So, today I feel the opposite of awesome and because I know what it is to feel aweless (yeah, the word is awful, but have you ever notices how that word just doesn't make any sense?), because I feel all my failings today - I'll enjoy the next awesome day all the more for it!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Thankful Thursday: I am awesome!

Man I was in such a funk yesterday and for most of the day I had something bordering on a migraine (as bad as a headache gets before full blown nausea and inability to communicate hits). Lots of people copped the wrath of my temper and for that I feel the need to apologise.

I'm sorry.

Today, I thought I'd try to get back on an even keel by deciphering what it is I'm thankful for. I had read from Kate at Kate Says Stuff not to post to the Thankful link up before reading her post for today, so I just went over there to read it, and here's the deal.

She's asking participants to list three reasons they are awesome followed by three awesome things about three other people (I'm assuming bloggers, here, but I guess they don't have to be bloggers), and then letting those people know so they can also participate if they feel that way inclined.

I don't actually mind listing three reasons I'm awesome (this will come as no surprise to my regular readers). Generally speaking, I think I'm pretty awesome most of the time (except when I don't, which also happens, but not too often).

I am awesome because I always try to be better. I know I'm far from perfect, but I really do try - on a daily basis - to be a better parent, a better friend, a better daughter, a better partner, a better member of society. Sometimes it's one step forward and two steps back, but I don't give up on trying to be more considerate, more compassionate, more trustworthy, more...

I am awesome because I walk and talk with half a brain - literally - and no doctors can account for this fact! I'm literally a biological miracle by today's understanding of how the human body works.

I am awesome because despite many physical and psychological challenges (vision impairment, ADHD, hypoglycaemia, agoraphobia, Seasonal Adjustment Disorder and low bullshit tolerance syndrome), I push myself to get out there and do things and be involved and contribute as much as I can. I dream big and make every effort to achieve my dreams, even though some days it feels like wading through molasses or creeping backwards. I don't give up.

I think Jayne at The Non Domestik Goddess is awesome because she is able to see topics and issues from multiple perspectives. I know she sometimes describes herself disparagingly as a fence sitter, but I admire her balance and her ability to tolerate those pointy fence palings! She has an amazing talent for seeing all the shades of gray, not just the black and white, and this is something I feel more people should appreciate and aspire to!

I think Lillie from Lillie McFerrin Writes is awesome because of her dedication to writing and her willingness to get in there and participate but also to give back to the writing community through Five Minute Fiction and the various blog hops she (along with others) offers - I find her very inspiring!

I think Rhianna from A Parenting Life is awesome because she is always so positive and supportive and caring. I swear her comments actually exude compassion, I kid you not, they seem to glow with a golden aura. Some people are just like that - warm!


Linking up with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Oy! You're shitting me, today!

I'm in a shitty mood this morning. I've had a stressful week - that is part of it - but mostly, I just don't have a lot of tolerance for bullshit.

Last night I reposted this on Facebook...

PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning - any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other "picture" art posted on my profile.

You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee , agent , student or any personnel under your direction or control.The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE...

For those of you who do not understand the reasoning behind this posting, Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. Unless you state otherwise, anyone can infringe on your right to privacy once you post to this site. It is recommended that you and other members post a similar notice as this, or you may copy and paste this version. If you do not post such a statement once, then you are indirectly allowing public use of items such as your photos and the information contained in your status updates.


When I posted it, I already suspected it bore no validity. I DIDN'T CARE. I posted it anyway because I liked the sentiment.

Just because I sign up with social networks or give out my email, doesn't mean I am happy for them to disseminate all my information.

Yes, I know I give them permission to do this - in as much as I agreed to them changing their policies whenever they like so even if they weren't doing these things when I signed up I agreed to them doing them down the track - but that doesn't mean I agree to never say I don't like it!

Straight away one of my friends wanted to point out that I'd just been conned (I hadn't actually because I already suspected the statement wasn't all it was cracked up to be and I'd said as much in my comments, but I posted it anyway because I DIDN'T CARE!).

This morning a few people on my timeline posted this link...

It pretty much says, 'Silly you, you're not protected, this statement originated somewhere else, and is a false claim, blah, blah, blah...'

Now, I've occasionally linked to Snopes myself - I do so particularly when people are sharing horrendous photos of dying children, or children with tumours or attempting to stir up anger against sub-sects of society - I do it to try and stop people from exploiting other people for their own voyeuristic entertainment or inciting misdirected anger against innocent parties...

But posting a link that pretty much says, 'Nah nah, you're so dumb, you fell for this!', well that just boils my blood!

What is the positive gained out posting this Snopes link? What harm is it preventing?

It seems the only reason to post it is to point out how gullible you believe other people are - how dumb they are compared to you who had the foresight to check with Snopes first. How obviously superior you are. 

Well, Congratulations on being so smart!

Just so you know - I would have posted that privacy statement anyway, because I liked what it said.

Sure I signed up with Facebook (and Flickr and Twitter and Blogger and...) and I am quite aware that the internet is never safe and never private. Even if I have my own site, registered under my own name, run off my own server, any information I put on the net is not really mine.

Then again, if you listen to my brother - none of us are private citizens, even in our own homes. Our parents registered us with the Government when we were babies and from that moment we were participants in a contract with forces way beyond our control.

Does any of that mean we forfeit the right to voice our disapproval of 'how things work'?


I think not.

If I want to say that I do not give my consent, even if saying that changes nothing legally, then goddammit, I will say that, and mean it, and not care that it is not legally binding.

Yep, I'm in a shitty mood today.


 

Monday, June 04, 2012

Roller Coaster Riding!



This is probably my favourite scene from the movie Parenthood (which is one of my all time favourite movies).

This last week has been all about riding the roller coaster.

I was prepared for that, the anxiety of volunteering at the Emerging Writers' Festival, the Grumpy Old Man's job interview, getting the Text Publishing manuscript in before the deadline.

I actually thought it would all end with Erik's highschool interview this morning, but this week seems set to be another roller coaster ride.

This morning we went to the highschool we're hoping Erik will get into for next year. I'd heard good things about it and then checked it out online and was impressed with what I saw, but I was not prepared for what the interview would reveal.

I'm so glad I had an opportunity to speak with the principal a few weeks ago, which inspired me to get Erik into the local art course (which, of course, has now led to an exhibition which started on Saturday). Erik had art to show the principal and he asked Erik a lot of questions about what media he'd worked with and what sort of art he liked to do. This emphasis on a particular area of enthusiasm in Erik may just be what gets Erik a place offer.

At one point Erik was asked how he learns and he said he likes to learn in groups and that he's not a leader and likes to be told what to do. The principal asked him if he likes direction and Erik said he did. This concerned the principal a bit because the philosophy of the school is for students to be self-motivated and to take initiative. So, the principal might not feel that his school would be a great match for Erik based on that.

That said, we also spent a while with the enrolment officer (or whatever her title is) and she seemed to think that unless Erik had some major behavioural issues, he would most likely be offered a place.

Having seen the school in person now, Erik is just bursting with enthusiasm to go there (which he kept to himself while the principal and other staffer were around). The Grumpy Old Man wishes he could go back to school and go there.

I feel just awful because now I want Erik to go to this school more than ever and I just know I'll be devastated if he doesn't get an offer.

When we got home the Grumpy Old Man checked his email and found a rejection letter for the job he interviewed for last Tuesday. This probably means they didn't get funding to do a diary next year, but he can't find out because the lady he needs to ask is on leave for a week now. It's so disappointing that he didn't get that job, he really was perfect for the job that was originally advertised.

On Wednesday we have a house inspection. The house is just a wreck at the moment and I feel so tired! I'm also anxious because we haven't heard anything since the owners put their last application in to build townhouses in the back yard (back in April).

Thursday evening is the opening of the exhibition Erik is in at the council chambers art space.

Saturday the boys have been invited to another birthday party.

Sunday I might be heading off to Adelaide to get my PhD proposal together.

I've also decided to submit a piece to an anthology by the middle of the month, and put in an application for a fellowship with the state writing centre.

So, the roller coaster ride carries on, up and down, up and down.

I really wish I didn't feel so tired and emotional all the time though.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Forty and still learning social skills.

I did a session of volunteering last night at the Emerging Writer's Festival. It went well, I was able to be useful - which was the point of volunteering, really.

For the most part I was stationed in the outside drinks and sandwiches section, answering questions about whether or not this was the event people wanted to be at, if they could take their drinks inside and where the toilets might be - nothing taxing.

On a couple of occasions I had the opportunity to talk to a couple of the participants (ironically, in my 'crew' tee shirt, I probably looked like a safe person to approach - they couldn't see the agoraphobe in me), and this is where I'm kicking myself today...

I was at a writers' event, the people attending were there because they are, in some way, interested in writing!

So, what did I talk with them about?

Well, shoes, of course.

Shoes and the weather, to be exact.

source


I'm kicking myself that I didn't ask if they were a writer, an editor, or a publisher. What was I thinking?

Okay, to be honest, I wasn't really thinking, I hadn't made any kind of plan for talking with anyone. I'm so used to not talking with people at public events that I just didn't think to plan for it.

So, I learned something new last night. I need to have a plan for social events; I need to plan to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves and if I'm in a place where people are in the business of writing and publishing, I need to be prepared to talk about writing and publishing. That way, I can avoid this circle of anxiety:

source


I'm pleased with myself that I went. To be honest, after volunteering, I did wonder what I'd done that for. I made the Grumpy Old Man go with me to the city on Thursday to stake out the places I would be volunteering at - which helped build my confidence about getting out a doing it. Still the anxiety was there yesterday. The anxiety was there the whole time I smiled and answered people's questions and it only drained away when I got into the cab to come home - leaving me exhausted!

I employ cognitive-behavioural strategies for dealing with symptoms of social anxiety, agoraphobia and also for attention deficit hyperactivity symptoms. They're not fool proof, but they help and using those strategies I can identify areas I need to work on - like having a plan for conversation based on the general interests of the people who are likely to be attending the same social event as myself.

Do you suffer from social anxiety, agoraphobia or ADHD - how do you deal with the symptoms of your disorder?

PS. The manuscript which won the Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript last night was about a man with Aspergers who decides it's time to find a wife, and creates a plan to make that happen. A friend of the writer - who was overseas - read an excerpt from the manuscript in which the main character, in part, raged against the idea of ASDs being some sort of 'fault', instead he said they were a 'variant' of human behaviour - I LOVE that!

Teenagers and the failing parent...