Monday, July 31, 2017

Struggling with sugar addiction...

I was doing so well for so long.

This year has been a problem though and I don't know why. At the beginning of the year I was pretty stressed, what with the confrontation of withdrawing from the PhD, the major argument with mum, and the pre-employment course which meant I was going to seriously be looking for a job again.

Of course, I then got the job, which was a massive surprise, but a good one. The relief of the extra income has been enormous and has taken a huge stressor out of my life. At the same time, settling into the job, finding my place, and feeling confident has been stressful over the past three months, but I feel I'm getting a handle on it now.

Okay, so maybe I do know why I've been struggling with my sugar addiction. Still, it's weird, because I'm the happiest I've been in years, many, many years.

And yet, I've put on 15kg (or more) this year so far. Fifteen kilos in just seven months. It is really beginning to show now, too. The upper belly fat I so loathe and was sooo happy to see the back of a couple of years ago, is back. This is a big marker for me. It is my line in the sand. Here I am though, struggling.

This morning I got up and made myself some bacon and eggs. I did have to rush around a fair bit despite having laid out my clothes and made my lunch for today. I don't really like to eat in the morning but am committed to do so if it will ward off the cravings. It will take two or three weeks to properly kick the sugar, and in there somewhere I could quicken the pace of that detox by doing a fat fast, but I don't want to make it too difficult for me or I'll just fall back on the sugar.

I know I'll feel a lot better once I'm back 'on the wagon'. In fact, I'm hoping it will help with my knees which have been very sore for a few weeks now. The soreness seemed to happen over night, I thought it might be from crouching down, something I do fairly regularly, but it has persisted. This has me thinking it might be weight related. I kind of hope so because then the pain will be eliminated by cutting out the sugar. Also, my back is stiff and sore again from the weight dragging on it from my ever increasing belly. I certainly think losing a bit of weight will help with that.

So, wish me luck. I need to break this sugar addiction. Maybe by writing this post I'll feel more focused because I'll have 'put it out there', acknowledged the situation, and set out a plan to deal with it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Stock take...

I've just realised I've been working full time for three months now. I have never worked full time for this long. That probably sounds strange considering I'm 45 years old, but during the past 27 years of my adulthood I've studied and/or parented babies, so not so surprising really. I'm very grateful to have this job, and to have pretty much walked into a full time job with so much freedom. I have full autonomy in this position, as long as I keep producing the goods.

So, what have I achieved so far? Well, I've put Vision Australia in the north and west of Melbourne in contact with all ten councils in our region, and attended several disability network meetings representing the organisation. I've been offered the vice president role of a board within one of the councils. I've put us in contact with several organisations besides. I've established on new activity out of the centre and have two others in the pipeline. I've taken stock of current client contact, and potential for expansion. I've presented at a university. And so many more incidental activities. I believe I've had a productive three months.

Three months speeds by when you keep yourself occupied. I am aware though that working full time doesn't leave a lot of time, or energy, for doing much else. Besides going to the Van Gogh exhibition earlier this month, I've basically spent most of my weekends on the minimising project. Every Monday without fail I am asked, 'How was your weekend, what did you do?' and every Monday my response usually is, 'I decluttered.' (hmmm, spellcheck doesn't recognise the word 'decluttered', I wonder if that is a reflection of our society's consumerist ideology?). Sometimes I wonder if my life seems boring?

I don't feel bored, but then again, I seriously don't know what feeling bored actually feels like. I've never in all my life - that I can remember - felt bored. Maybe I should feel bored? I don't know. This little uneventful life is just right for me at the moment. I feel content. Possibly that is because all the stress of the past few years has evaporated. I haven't felt this free in a long time. I am feeling very grateful for all of this. For having savings, and cash in my pocket. For having something stimulating where my work is appreciated and not endlessly criticised. Where I don't feel small and as if I am a nuisance. It is a great relief.

So, give me uneventful for now. Give me stability and autonomy. Give me tiredness and sound sleep. Give me a routine. One day I might want more, and then I'll seek more. I'll go to more places and participate more in my community. For now though, I'm content with working during the week and decluttering on the weekend. Listening to novels on my commute. Connecting people. For now not having much to talk about on Monday mornings is enough.

Friday, July 28, 2017

All the ergonomic furniture...

I am highly aware that sitting at a desk for hours and hours a detrimental to a person's health. Our workplace encourages people to get up frequently throughout the day and walk around. It is actually hard doing this without feeling like it is somehow cheating. As it is, I get into work just before 7.30am so I can leave by 3.30pm. I don't mind getting to work that early because it's quiet and I can get a lot done. Some days it gets quite noisy in this open plan office, days when most of the staff don't have outside appointments.

So, getting up and being seen to not be working feels a bit cheeky, even though we're encouraged to do this. Wednesday was a 'stress down' day, so we had a morning tea - something that isn't infrequent because we also do morning or afternoon teas to farewell staff or to celebrate work anniversaries. We had five minute massages at our desks. Thursday is, of course, our weekly corporate massage day. I wasn't able to have a massage this week because I had a group to run in the city, but most weeks I do.

In addition to these perks, I have bought myself a fitball chair...

This is great, and fascinating to the other staff. 

I have ordered the follow standing desk augmentation. This will allow me to in get my standing - and even moving - time without feeling so guilty about it...

These are available at work and my manager asked why I hadn't gotten one from People and Culture. I explained that on the website it says I need to show a medical need for one, and in all honesty I don't have one. The other thing though is that I will be able to take it with me if I leave. She said with a laugh, 'So, you're already looking for another job!' I said I absolutely was not, I love my job, but I'm aware that my contract is stated as being 'full time, temporary', and I don't want to get ahead of myself. 

So, there you go, I'm trying to do all I can to avoid the traps of sitting at a desk all day. Let's see how it goes.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Skipping, skipping...

I've booked my final skip - for this year, anyway, and hopefully for many years to come.

It's a big 6 square footer. I don't want to get caught out, like I did last time. We have a mass of stuff sitting in the garage. The biggest part is stuff to be donated. Dave has two weeks to do this. It is solely up to him because he drives, and he is more driven to donation than I am. Like a true thoughtless consumer, I'd probably just chuck it all - though I can see the benefit of donating. I could also put stuff on free cycle and I might yet do that next weekend if he hasn't moved most of it. That will be contingent on people picking up by the end of the weekend though. Dave wouldn't be impressed if I asked him to stay home and wait for people to pick stuff up during the week.

Whatever is left over is going in the skip.

Yay, I can't wait for this to be done.

I'm so excited at the prospect of having so much less to pack. And this is probably a good thing, because the other day Dave came home to find three cars parked around our property. Two in front and one around the corner where our driveway is. In the two in front he could see a Caucasian woman in the front of one of the cars, and some Asian people in the second car. Around the side there was a younger Asian man. He suspects they were the owners of the property, possibly with a sales rep.

We might be moving again.

Anyway, I'm not going to let the prospect of having to look for a new home cloud over the joy I'll experience over finally getting my house cleared out of all the excess stuff.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Plot twist...

Back in April last year, the week after Erik left, Dave and I had a few things we needed to do.  We saw a lawyer for advice through the free legal service. He told us there was basically nothing we could do. Of course, with Dave being Erik's carer there had been plenty we could do, it was just that either we didn't mention Dave being Erik's carer - I honestly can't remember if we did, though I suspect we would have - or the lawyer simply wasn't aware of the fact that as Erik's carer, Dave could compel Erik to return home because he was living outside care which was not okay under the law (because he obviously needed a carer).

We also had to notify Centrelink that Erik was no longer living at home. When I did that, I suggested he would be transferring Family Assistance payments to Sam (and honestly we were wondering if that was her motive for encouraging Erik to move in with them). We were told that Erik could not apply for any kind of alternative payment or arrangement without our knowledge, and that to be eligible for any such change he would have to meet one of the following criteria:

1. That he could not live at home because home was located too far from the place of his education, or where he was seeking employment.

2. That he could not live at home because he was a physical danger to his family.

3. That he could not live at home because his family was unable to provide a secure housing arrangement for him.

4. That he could not live at home because he was being abused there.

We would have to agree to one of these. Obviously, none of the above applies, and the final of these further excluded disagreement between the child and guardian disputing regular household rules (you know, such as not being allowed to steal or lie or enroll in classes he'd previously failed to attend or do assignments for over and over again).

Anyway, he did not apply for any payment from Centrelink in the past year and a half - or at least we had not been contacted.

A few weeks ago Dave or Luey (I can't remember which), had seen Erik and Aaron - his school mentor, and the teacher who swore up and down that Erik was doing just fine at school and that Compass was not correctly reflecting his attendance - had been seen going into a Centrelink office. We speculated he would be applying for some sort of payment. We didn't think anymore of it, because well, he's eighteen now.

Yesterday, a letter arrived from Centrelink - or rather a social worker working for Centrelink. The letter informed us that Erik was applying for Youth Allowance on the grounds he is unable to live at home and the social worker was asking Dave to ring and confirm that Erik was, indeed, unable to live at home.

Obviously, Dave can't confirm this because none of the criteria apply.

We don't know what Erik is thinking. Has he told the social worker that we abused him? Would he lie like that to get money? Does he not realise that that means the social worker would have to look at whether or not the other boys are safe in our care? I mean, there is no case to answer and we are not concerned that the boys would really be taken from us, but seriously is he willing to imply as much?

Then the question arises. Why is he seeking the payment now, and not before now. Given that Sam has withdrawn herself from Erik's Compass account, does this move indicate that she has given him a period in which to find himself other accommodations? Now that he's an adult and he and Jess are no longer together, and he's been playing up at school - and perhaps she's realised that he might have hoodwinked her last year?

Perhaps she's asking him to pay board - which would be the preferable option here because there is no way he could support himself on two hundred something a week. Perhaps he's planning to work a couple of days a week and move into share accommodation - though with who is questionable as none of his friends are eighteen yet.

We still can't believe he's claiming he cannot live at home...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The sadness of being right...

Yesterday, while checking whether or not the bookings app for the high school conferences (parent/teacher meetings) had been opened up, I did my usual catch up on how the boys are traveling. Things like, do they have any assignments overdue and are they being conscientious about turning up to class on time - or in some cases at all? I check both boys part out of habit, and part out of a parental need to know what is happening with my 'living away from home' child.

Yesterday I found out we haven't been privy to the whole picture. It seems when Sam was given access to his Compass and appointed 'primary parent' (an assignment which both hurt and galled me), all notes about Erik's behaviour became exclusive for her eyes only. It also seems that once he turned eighteen a couple of weeks ago, she decided her responsibility for him had ended and so she had herself removed from his account - meaning we can now get a whole picture of his status at school. It isn't pretty. He's been missing a lot of classes - something we knew - but not to sit in the Resource Centre and study as he used to, instead he's been hanging out with his various mates in rooms he shouldn't be in. He was part of a group which left graffiti on tables in a room causing the school to implement a booking system for the entire school.

Basically, he's off the rails.

At one point the teacher who covered for him all of last year - the one who claimed he was doing just fine - had to have a 'talked with him about expectations'.

I'm angry and frustrated and sad. Dave and I know our children. We know what they need and Erik has always needed strong boundaries. When Sam decided to encourage him to leave home because she believed his manipulative sob story and never even tried to verify the details with us, when she gave him 'freedom' to go out at night and choose his own subjects despite him willfully failing that level of subject time and time again, when the school ignored their own policy to give him 'another chance', when his mentor covered for his progress despite all the evidence we gathered and showed him that Erik was failing... When they all decided they knew our child better than we did...

They failed him.

We heard time and again from people that we were being 'too controlling', 'too strict' - that we needed to give him 'more freedom'. People refused to accept that Erik has always needed strong boundaries, always needed someone to help him contain himself. People refused to see that he has Autism and because he has Autism, he cannot be treated the same way as his peers. He needs structure and emotional support, and a keen eye to detect when he is manipulating people to have his own, black and white, way.

And now he is at risk of dropping out of school.

I was accused of enjoying his 'failure's by my mother. I was never enjoying his failures. I was enjoying the fact that other people were beginning to have to attempt to reign him in after giving him enough rope to hang himself. I was hoping those people might come to the realisation that involving us in our own son's life would be a good idea. I was hoping him showing his true colours and them finally trying to set the boundaries we'd been setting for him for years might be a sign that the scales had fallen from their eyes.

Apparently not.

I have never - I repeat NEVER - enjoyed seeing my child be let down by the do-gooders who were fooled by his manipulation. I have never enjoyed watching him slide off the rails and make it so much harder for him to get back on track. I will not enjoy him most likely dropping out of school rather than become the architectural draftsman he talked about becoming, or finishing high school 'because mum didn't' And I'm not enjoying witnessing him carry on believing the rules don't apply to him because no one has cared enough to show him that he can't ignore the rules forever.

I want to say to Sam, 'Thanks a lot for failing our kid because you thought you were a better parent than us.'

I want to say to the school, 'Thanks for not applying the same boundaries to Erik that you set for your other students.'

I want to say to all the people who have judged us to be too controlling, 'Give us credit for knowing our own child. We are his parents. We love him more than anyone else in the world. We know all his moves, and we know what he needs. You only see at tiny, tiny part of what happens 'behind the scene', you have no right - NO RIGHT - to judge us on that tiny part,'

I want to rail at the world, pummel it, scream until my voice is done.

We were not finished raising out child! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

I have found my way back to books...

Have you ever wondered where vegetable oil comes from? I mean, which vegetables. Avocado oil come from avocados, sunflower oil comes from sunflowers etc. and so forth but where is this 'vegetable oil' coming from exactly? What are these oily, fatty vegetables?

Sometimes I find myself asking these sorts of questions without real answers.

And then there are other questions, questions with answers. Questions that leaving me wondering why I didn't ask the question earlier.

Like, why did I not start reading audio books before now?

I knew they existed, I even signed up to Audible a couple of years ago. I didn't download any books though, and after several months of paying fees for books I wasn't downloading, I requested to close my account. Several months thereafter, I discovered Amazon was still deducting fees from my account and flew into a word processed rage with the overseas company, was re-embursed and swore never to sign up with them ever, ever again.

And then I found employment, and started traveling three hours to and from work every day. I listened to my only playlist for a few weeks, used the random play mode thingy so I felt like I was listening to a differed playlist here and there. Changed some songs up. But it wasn't very inspiring.

One of my colleagues told me about listening to audio books on the train. She's read thousands. As we ascended to our floor, her excitement about her joy at reading also rose. I hadn't read a book in about five years. Before that I struggled to read through ever diminishing near sight. I told people I'd read every plot ever written, and convinced myself I actually had. I mean, I've read thousands and thousands of books since I started reading at the age of four.

So, I signed up to Audible, and for good measure I also signed up to Audiobooks - which likewise has an app that is orange and that confuses me a fair bit. I downloaded both on one of those trial thingies. On Audiobooks I got myself a YA novel which was okay, but way too short. On Audible I got a John Grisham novel because I've always been a fan of his clause heavy sentences.

It's funny how you can get attached to a voice though. Grisham's books are mostly set in the American south, and the first one I listened to was read by one Michael Beck. When looking for my next Grisham novel I road tested a few other readers, but ended up going with a couple of books also read by Beck. Obviously, he hasn't read every Grisham novel, so I'm going to have to leave him behind at some point, but not just yet. I'm not ready.

I'm also not ready to try any new popular books. I'll get there, but for now, I want to read styles and authors I'm familiar with. I can see that I'm going to have a long and interesting relationship with audio books.

At work I'm plotting a four hour long introduction to audio book apps for our clients and then an audio book club to follow up. I've mooted taking this idea to community centres in the various councils I've been working with and so far the idea has been well received. The book clubs would be open to the general public, which would increase the membership possibilities, but also, it would allow people with a vision impairment to begin making connections in their local communities.

I'm so grateful my work colleague shared her love of audio books with me!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dampened joy over my book...

The book is in print. It isn't in shops (unless online counts, and I'm not sure it does) but it's in print.

The launch is being organised. I've successfully petitioned for it to be in a central location (as opposed to the south-eastern venue suggested to me a few months ago). I'm keen to have the launch at the Carlton Readings shop, but that depends on a couple of things, yet to be sorted.

It doesn't feel real yet. Maybe it will after the launch? I find myself surprisingly un-phased by the entire situation. I expected to be more excited, I guess, but it has taken so long to get to this place that the excitement has all dissipated.

Maybe that's because the people I would have liked to share this excitement with are not in my life at the moment. The argument - or rather the lack on communication in the wake of the blow up - is still in progress. I recently heard that mum still has 'more to say' on the topic, and frankly I'm not interested. She scared the living daylights out of me with her overreaction to my request. She became 'the mum of old': volatile, vicious, and bent on making sure I understood that I am the worst mother and the worst daughter to ever have walked the Earth. It was frightening. I still can't answer the phone in case it is her at the other end.

I can't see a way back now.

And then there is Erik. I heard he is determined to finish high school (great news!) because I didn't. Of course I did finish high school, just not is the conventional way. I've always told my kids that there is no 'last chance' when it comes to education. I've told them how, and why (having to learn an entirely new language within two years of graduation) I failed high school, but also that I found a way to graduate (through TAFE). It seems Erik only remembers the part about me failing high school. But why the competition? What is going on there?

He's in contact with Dave and his brothers, but not me, not since just after Christmas when I hugged him for the first time since he moved out. Maybe hugging him was too much? I don't know. I've mooted with Dave and Lukas that Erik should maybe be invited to Christmas this year? We've already decided to do the usual Christmas Eve event on the weekend before Christmas, and then do Christmas Day lunch on Christmas Day as per usual. We're simply getting too old to do the two day marathon and we'd rather enjoy ourselves than wish it was over already. So, yeah, maybe Erik can join us this year - if he wants to.

A launch with my family so divided is a bit like when Dave and I eloped, our families just would not be able to be civilised enough to celebrate the happy event.

I think this is underlying my lack of joy over the book being published and finally in print.

Buy here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dystopian worlds and entertainment...

Been watching The Handmaids Tale and thinking a lot about how stories of dystopian worlds seem to be occupying the realm of entertainment. This theme has always been around - in modern storytelling, at least. Most people know George Orwell's novel '1984' in the late 40s, and there were movies like 'THX 1138' from early 70s, and of course, countless others, but most recently 'The Hunger Games' series, the 'Insurgent' series, and 'Rogue One', the list is long and seems to be intensifying of late.

How much of this reflects the fear of the Alt-Right movement gaining ground. People, sick of the growing divide between the rich and the poor taking the word of (rich) politicians and businessmen, that things will change if they just vote the 'right' way, if they succumb to the fear of the 'other' and in the attempt to control it, become controlled by it.

Is it a subconscious cry for the need to learn from the past? Will the story lines of The Terminator, and 12 Monkeys come to haunt us as we realise too late the cliff we've just stepped off? Will we wish we could go because to a time before Brexit, before Trump, before the attack on civil liberties? In Australia this week, the military was given the right to shoot, on home-soil, those people deemed to be terrorists. How are terrorists defined and identified? Should we all be watching our neighbours now? Reporting on 'suspicious behaviour'? Who might report us?

Somewhere deep down I think the populous is wrestling with these questions, and trying to decide whether they should learn from the projected futures found on the big and small screens - because, certainly no-one seems to be learning from the past.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Go ahead... Do it!

Yesterday Bryn had a run in with a teacher at school.

He was doing the wrong thing. He was talking to a mate during a class and he thought it was okay because they were talking 'very quietly'.

The CRT told him he'd have to sit out of a sports game that was happening later in the day - a game that was not part of the curriculum, but had been organised for the day.

So, Bryn sat on the sidelines during the game. While sitting on the bench, he was fiddling with something in his hands and a teacher from another class in the same year level asked him what he was doing. 'Sitting here trying to occupy myself during these hours and hours of fun sitting on the bench.' came the sullen and sarcastic answer. The teacher told him to adjust his attitude, or something to the same effect, and he said something like, 'Fine!' or 'Whatever', or some other verbal version of flipping her the bird. The teacher said if he didn't behave she'd pull him out of every game for the rest of the term. 'Go ahead, do it!' He said.

He's turning twelve in a month's time. He's on the cusp of teen-hood, and he's all free flying hormones and bumpy emotions. This one is going to lot of fun, I can see that already.

Dave and I are concerned that Bryn seems to carry a chip on his shoulder. He has for many years. I'm afraid it stems from the abuse and terrorising he received from Erik for so many years. Somehow, we have to navigate these glass-half-full emotions with gentleness and support, but without letting him get away with being defiant and downright rude.

He has always been such a sweet and easy kid. Hurt so deeply by the rejection he felt from Erik, he'd cry and cry whenever he felt he was being left behind, or excluded at school. His self-esteem took a beating and all the comforting and shielding Dave and I tried to provide for him could not make up for the utter contempt Erik flung in his direction.

To compensate, we've tried really hard to give him some of the opportunities the other didn't have, like lots of sleepovers. We'd never actually allowed Erik and Luey to have friends over for sleepovers - it was just too hard with all the kids and our finances barely able to provide for us, let alone for having a guest stay and the expected take away dinner etc.

But for Bryn we somehow made it happen. Bryn was also the first to have pocket money, and the youngest to have access to digital toys.

But nothing is ever enough for the boy. The big black hole within him constantly screams for more affirmations that he is loved - and his love language is gifts. He likes to give gifts and he likes to receive them. He is also the child most likely to start a sentence with, 'Can I...' have/do/go - fill in the blank.

So, how to navigate the need for security in a child whose insecurity button is triggered so easily? Love him and affirm him - well, that's the easy answer. We do that already - and not just with things, but with presence, affection, and words. If only it were that simple. We can't undo the emotional pain inflicted on him when he was young. Believe me, I'd give my good eye to be able to do that.

At the same time, we can't allow him to hurt others because he feels pain. 'I'm having a bad day.' is no excuse for treating other people with disrespect. Too often people excuse their behaviour with, 'I'm feeling sick, I'm really stressed out, I'm just tired...' and expect to be excused from being considerate, kind, and respectful towards others. Carrying a chip does not mean you have to make salsa so you don't feel alone. Okay, I know what I mean with that analogy - moving right along.

So, time to strap ourselves in for a bumpy ride through the emotional landscape inhabited by this particular teen-to-be.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The more you do, the more you do...

Or so the saying goes.

When  I'm at the point of scheduling my blog posts because I'm just not finding the time to do them on a regular basis, I have to wonder if this is true.

I have started getting myself into work by 7.30am so I can be gone by 3.30pm. I've realised I can be a morning person, and I can be a night owl, but what I can't do, is be an afternoon person. Come 2pm I'm fighting to keep my eyes open. I'm drinking strong coffee to remain alert enough to not give in to the temptation of resting my head on my desk and just having a snooze.

If I'm out and about, then this is not so bad, it's really just in the reticulated air of the office. Whatever happened to open windows?

It's nice coming into the office at 7.20am. Usually there is only me and the manager of the other team. I always make sure to say hello, so she can be my witness that I am doing my full eight hours. Getting in early also allows me to prepare for the day, particularly if I have a meeting to go to outside of the office. Travel time is a killer, and it doesn't make much difference that I take public transport - I have access to CabCharge vouchers but am very reluctant to take a cab because Harlem is such a snowstorm.

So, not exactly sure if the more you do, the more you do really applies to me. I mean, when I get home, I usually crash out. Last week I went to bed for the night at 6.30pm! I kid you not. Mind you, that was after a long day which included being stuck in the Great Metro Failure of 2017. An hour sitting between stations, watching the brave and the stupid forcing the train doors open and jumping down onto the tracks - so much fun!

Still do the same amount as ever, I guess.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Good evening, July...

Well, we've made it through to the shortest day of the year and beyond. I'm not so worried about the cold this winter. Yes, I am cold, very, very cold sometimes, but I've let go of the resentment. Winter comes, and Winter goes, it's the cycle of things. Dave on the other hand is feeling the cold for the first time. It's odd, he has never really been bothered by the cold, but this year he's convinced it's the coldest it has ever been.

There you go, now we've had a conversation (as such) about the weather.

Did I tell you I'm no longer a community support worker?

Don't worry, I'm still employed, but now I'm a community development worker. You see, it became clear that I'm doing a development role, rather than a client support role. This suits me well. All the work I've been doing over the past nine weeks has been about community development - liaising with city councils and not-for-profit organisations. Researching the profile of our organisation within our region. Doing work to raise our profile and make connections on behalf of our site with our local communities.

It's been an interesting new learning curve, but I was feeling a bit aimless. I felt a bit like I was throwing seeds into the wind, not sure where they would land, hoping for the best. Then on Thursday I had an amazing meeting with a couple of extremely insightful and helpful professionals. While talking to me, one of them suddenly stopped and looked at me and said, 'You know what you need right now?' I looked at him askance. 'You need a strategic plan. Put together a strategic plan and then come back to us.' Then I spent the next hour talking to these two wise minds about how to go about this strategic planning. Suddenly, I saw the way.

I had had a progress meeting with my manager earlier in the week and while it had gone well, because I've done a lot of work, I felt like I was missing the target in some way. Now I know what it was I needed to be doing. I've asked for another meeting. This week I'll also be seeking a meeting with our marketing department.

I'm feeling very excited, and a bit scared, but mostly very excited!

In other news, my hair is growing well. It is now long enough to have aspirations of forming a whispy ponytail. I can make a little topknot to put under my shaper (a shaper is a padded cap which is worn under a headscarf to give a nice shape to the back of the head, and to have something to anchor the scarf to, especially if you don't have much, or any, hair to make a decent bun).

Speaking of scarves, I've reduced my stash from over 100 scarves to just 20. I've also set aside all but four decorative Alice-bands. I have about a dozen pins. I've set aside most of my costume jewellery - reducing my jewellery boxes from about nine to three (seriously). All the set asides are being donated.

My clothes consist of;

 4 skirts
3 jumpers,
2 cardigans

And a partridge in a pear tree...

8 tops
7 singles

Then a bunch of undies and socks, and a bra (I need to replace it and add another couple, they've finally all met their maker - they lasted about two years...).

The minimising has really made its mark. I have four pairs of shoes, three I wear regularly and one pair I just can't let go off because they are very special to me. I have three coats (two winter, one spring/autumn), but have plans to donate one of the winter coats as soon as I can fit into the other one. I have three bags; one backpack, and two handbags (one large, one small). Man, there are going to be a LOT of delighted op shoppers out there!

Dave, Bryn, Ari, and I went to see the Vincento Van Gogh exhibition and the NGV yesterday. I almost cried to be so close to the original works. Van Gogh is my second favourite painter (my first being Jackson Pollock, of course). To see the brush strokes and the combinations of colour was so inspiring. I took copious photos, and was told off for getting too close (okay, so I had my iPad just inches from the canvases, but crikey, why shouldn't I get to see the paintings as well as anyone else. I wasn't touching them, just getting decent enough photos to zoom in and have a proper look. The woman shut up when she saw Harlem. That is, her mouth shut up - her eyes shouted at me.

Luey turned sweet sixteen on Monday. Such a cliche to ask where the time went, but here goes... Where did the time go?

Look at that sweet, happy little face. You wouldn't know he spent the first nine weeks of his life in excruciating pain and that he cried for eight hours a day, never sleeping more than twenty minutes at time. When he grew older he sang all the time. Even before he could talk, I knew he was musical. His ear for music is pitch perfect. He has a lovely voice, but is terribly shy to use it. Now he's all grown up with a girlfriend and plans for Uni. Where did that time go?

Thank goodness he didn't outgrow his beautiful hair. Of all my kids, he's the one I will never take issue with growing his hair long. Unfair to the others? Sure. Too bad they weren't redheads.

This last week also saw the primary school ball. Neither Dave nor I were overly sold on the idea of a ball. Dave doesn't have particularly great associations with his, it was more for the mums and dads back then. Dusty old music and holding hands with cootie infested girls...

We have to admit though, it was rather easy on the eyes seeing our boys all dressed up and dancing old style dances. It also helped that the music was contemporary and the boys seemed to be having a ball (see what I did there?).

Incidentally, so did the dance teacher (who is an electrician by day).

It's been a busy week, but in a good way!

Good Job!