An Expected Journey

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I only have a couple of things on my bucket list, and one of them is to do a long drive somewhere on my own. Don’t ask me why, I just always wanted to do it. So, after upgrading my car for the first time in eleven years, I decided to go visit one of my beloved friends and her twin boys in Castlemaine, Victoria. For non-Aussies, that’s a round trip, across state borders, of 1,250kms. Here’s the map my muse (hubby) printed out for me. The blue line was the intended route, but once you get to a certain place in Victoria (fucking Horsham. Let’s just name it), then there are a couple of ways you can get to Castlemaine. Or so I thought. The trip was great for the first six hours. It was around the time I hit Horsham that it went pear shaped.

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The road signs in Victoria are pathetic. I’ve drawn in the approximate route I ended up taking, which added another 100kms onto the trip, and another couple of hours. Who knew that there are no significant sign posts to Castlemaine, and who knew that trying to read a map was so pointless? On the way home, I just pulled over in the small towns and asked people where to go next.
img_1360The trip was fabulous. I had so much fun with my friend and her little ones. I now know all the verses of ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ and could probably recreate Thomas The Tank Engine’s Useful Word Book from my memory. Lots of gin was drunk, lots of talk was had. There’s nothing like catching up with an old friend.

So Jane, I hear you say, what amazing insights did you glean from your bucket experience. Let me share the following with you.

  • Often, if you follow a map you’ll get lost. Especially a google maps print out.
  • Celine Dion CDs will get you through the scariest backroads you find yourself on when you are a long way from home.
  • They make great pies and pastries in country towns, and the public loos are pretty good too.
  • And it’s true. There’s no place like home!!
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An unexpected journey

 

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be a patient, when I’ve been looking after people as a nurse. How hard is it to wee on a bedpan? Do those clexane injections really hurt as much as people say, and what does it feel like to have a bed bath, and be completely naked in front of someone you don’t know (excluding experiences from my 20s when I was a single girl!)

Little did I realise that I was soon to find out. I had to have pelvic surgery this month, and after some post-operative complications, I found myself smack in the middle of relying on people to help me do the most basic of things. What I found, was that most of the nurses and doctors were incredibly kind, that people do come through when you need them, and that my muse (husband) is capable of talking at me for two hours non-stop about sport when he comes to visit.

After a turn for the worse, I ended up in Intensive Care. Now, for any nurse, this is going to be a challenge. ICU usually means you are on a knife edge of becoming really bloody sick. I was terrified. In the small hours of the morning, after no sleep, I started crying. I had discovered what it’s like to wee on a bedpan (horrendous and very messy), and I also now knew what it was like to have 40 litres of oxygen blowing up your nose. The nurse suggested I watch the TV on the wall in my little cubicle to distract myself, so in amongst all the bleeping machines, I turned it on. I think it was 4.30am.

Lo and behold, there was Celine. My Celine. Anyone who has followed this blog would know that Celine Dion is my idol. If things ever get really tough, I say to myself ‘what would Celine do in this situation?’ And there she was, smiling out at me, talking about finding strength in the bad times, and then singing a song. She looked so brave and happy, that I knew this was a sign from the Universe, and I knew in that moment, that I was going to get better. My nurse thought I had gone quite mad when I told her this, but I don’t care.

Later that morning, the doctor came around and told me that I had staged an almost miraculous recovery. By the end of the day I had been moved to a private room and while still being observed ever hour, was not in danger anymore.

And now I’m home, feeling heaps better, and so grateful for all that I learnt along the way. I can’t imagine how much better at my nursing I’m going to be, and I realise how much a kind word means to people when they are down.

But most of all, I know that if I ask myself the question ‘what would Celine do?’ I’m going to be just fine.

Celine

More Magic From Marie Kondo

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Last post I talked about Marie Kondo, and her book on tidying up your house. At first glance, she does seem a bit mad, but I’ve spent quite a bit of time applying her principals (principles?) to my belongings, and I was shocked to find that her system does indeed change your perception of yourself.

Her basic method is to examine every single bloody thing you own and ask yourself ‘does this spark joy in me?’ If it doesn’t then you have to let it go.

It’s quite a confronting thing to do. I got rid of so much stuff from my bookcase and wardrobe alone, that I physically felt ill when I took it all to the second hand shop. I didn’t feel ill because I was letting it go, there was something else at the bottom of it, but I couldn’t figure it out.

The next day I went to see my best friend (BF), and while I was telling her about how I felt, I suddenly blurted out that I’d held onto a lot of things I didn’t need, want or like in my life because I didn’t want to hurt the people (mainly family) who had given me the stuff I didn’t want. Their happiness was somehow deemed more important than mine, so I held onto a lot of their crap so I wouldn’t upset them. And with that, I burst into tears.

It was never about the ‘stuff’.

Marie also says that letting go of things you don’t use in your life, gives them the opportunity to do what they were created for. That hit a big chord too. I’ve been in a profession I really don’t want to be in for over ten years now (nursing). It’s feels like I’ve put myself in the back of a drawer and not let myself be used for what I was designed to do.

And strangely, this week I’m finding a new road to go down which may very well take me where I would love to go.

So, if you are looking for some insights that might very well put you on a different path, then I suggest you read her book. Be warned though, it works.

Give Your Socks A Holiday!

IMG_0712“The socks and tights stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday.’ Such is the wisdom I am finding in a book my friend put me onto. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. At first, I thought she was mad, but within a few chapters of her book, my muse and I had rearranged our lounge and I was eyeballing my sock drawer, with a promise to the socks that I would Youtube this lady and learn how to fold them with more respect (so they can have a holiday in their drawer).

And I do find myself talking to my clothes.

For many years, I had the sort of shape that meant I could never have a wardrobe I could be excited about. Big boobs. That’s all you need to know. At times I was a tiny 17kgs lighter than I am now, but even back then, I couldn’t get clothes to fit me, or clothes that made me feel good about myself. If you are outside of the circle, in any way, shape or form, society lets you know it. It’s a constant reminder that ‘YOU DO NOT FIT IN’ (literally). I spent years hating myself, what I looked like and wishing I could be different

All that changed last year, when, after returning to nursing, my budget went to hell in a hand basket. Our government seems to be hellbent on casualising the nursing workforce. Essentially this makes you into a day labourer, and your shift can be cancelled an hour before you are due to turn up to work. You can’t plan for anything, and if it happens enough, you can’t pay for anything. So, enter the local Salvation Army op shop. There, I found a world that meant for $10 or so, I could start to be bold, find things from other decades which fitted me!!! And, I began to build up my confidence, which had been worn down to nothing over the decades.

Nowadays, it can take me an hour to get dressed, as I examine my lovely friends who now hang in my wardrobe. Bright coats from the 70s, groovy jackets from the 80s and all manner of lovely items which make me feel attractive and happy again. For the first time in my life I don’t want to lose weight. I’m happy where I am, and I LOVE my clothes.

To the point that I am prepared to give my socks the holiday they deserve. So, no matter how you feel about yourself, try to find something that makes you feel good. For me it was a 1970s dress made in London, that I purchased for $12. And I have never looked back, and I have never felt better about myself.

It can take a long time to accept yourself for who you are, and what you look like. But when you do, it is absolutely fabulous!!!!

Super Annoying!

IMG_0980 If this year has taught me nothing else so far, it’s that kombucha tea does not give you super powers, and that the whole superfoods movement is a load of wilted kale. My kombucha tea scoby is now in the compost, and yesterday I discovered that my organically grown kale plants were being destroyed by caterpillars. After picking about 40 of the little bastards off my ravished plants, I realised the only thing left for it, was to uproot the whole lot and be done with the kale phase of my life.

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I felt too guilty to just bin it in the compost, so I took a deep breath and spent the next hour trying to wash all the caterpillars out of the curly kale leaves.

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Disgusting.

Finally, facing a mountain of clean kale, I got out my trusty NutriBullet and pulverised the lot, before pouring the extremely bright green liquid into ice cube trays. I now have about 60 kale cubes ready for green smoothies. They are pretty smelly, but I think it will work. Either that or they will be thrown in the bin in due course.

So, that’s it so far for organic gardening and fermented super foods. I think my next task will be to find an exercise class I enjoy. Anyone for yoga?

 

The end of the road…

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Hmm, I could have done with a camel recently. Two weeks ago I was sitting in my car at the end of our road, waiting to turn into the main street, when some hoon (for non-Aussies, that’s a person in a car who is driving like an idiot) came barrelling into the back of me, ripping off the bumper and wrecking the boot. My trusted car of eleven years was promptly written off by the insurance company, and taken to the scrap yard. The stupid driver of the other car was whinging at me about his insurance excess (being a 19 year old. Yes, it was $1,500), but I wish I had said to him, ‘hey dickhead, I’m on foot now.’

I’ve been catching public transport ever since.

Still, I wasn’t injured, and I’ve found a new car which I get tomorrow, so all is well in the world! This experience came shortly after we lost two of our little ferrets to cancer and old age. They passed away together on the same day. We’ve had a lot of change happening around us lately, and it’s made me think about the whole idea of letting go of things, and moving into new phases of your life. Not the easiest thing to do.

Sometimes you simply don’t get a choice. The best thing to do is try and accept the situation and make the best of it. While I hate public transport, I’ve rediscovered that 30 minutes to work is the perfect amount of time to get stuck into a smutty book a friend has lent me. And two new fur babies have found a home with us, from the animal shelter.

It’s hard to trust that the future will work out, but these last few weeks have shown me just that. And I got a great new car to provide it.

 

Stories from the past

 

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I don’t usually post photos of myself, but I couldn’t resist because I’ve developed a fabulous new hobby. Well, I think it’s fabulous, although not everyone agrees. My muse thinks I’ve gone mad. He thinks I’m having a bit of a ‘mid-life crisis.’ He told me this when I was wearing a screaming red caftan from the 70s, with my hair in a turban, but I digress. My new hobby is shopping for vintage clothes in the op shops. I developed my new passion after stumbling across a gorgeous dress from another era made in London. I loved it so much, I went back to the shop and found a few more fabulous things, like a purple coat from the 70s, and this blue number I’m wearing in the photo from the 60s.

The amazing thing about dressing in these treasures from another decade, is that I feel like I’m putting on a story every time I wear them. Someone, forty or fifty years ago, wore this coat. I like to make up stories about the life these clothes have lived – cocktail and dinner parties, nights out at clubs and shows they’ve been to. This coat came from a designer in Melbourne, so who knows what things it’s seen. I feel like I’m their guardian now, and it’s my duty to make sure they go out and have fun!

Tomorrow I’m going to the country with my muse. He has to man a stand for work at a farm fair, and he asked me to go with him. I said I would, but only if I could go into the small town and hunt through their second hand shops. I hope there are some more treasures waiting for their new home. I can’t wait!

 

 

Turning up the heat

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It’s autumn here in Adelaide, but you wouldn’t know it. We’ve had a hideous heatwave, complete with muggy, humid days and nights, which frankly, none of us are used to because we live on the edge of a dry, dusty desert. As I stood in a car park the other day, with my windows, doors and hatch open trying to cool down my car, I was transfixed by the heat shimmering off the car roof. I could have cooked not only an egg on that roof, but quite possibly an entire BBQ. Which led me to wonder why my body hadn’t simply imploded in the heat. Probably because the amount of sweat we’ve all been producing has pickled us in our own juices.

Anyway, I recently decided to volunteer as a competition judge with our romance writers organisation in Australia. I said on my application form that I was happy to read any genre, and any heat level. Well, lucky old me got down to judging the entries over the weekend, and let me tell you, the heat level of those stories matched the heat from my car roof and then some! I got all the erotic, exotic extracts in my quota of entries. I sat there, mesmerised by what I was reading. It was fun. Smutty, naughty fun, but fun nonetheless. It kind of reminded me of being a teenager again. Or, going on a date with some gorgeous guy when you are in your twenties and your body is toned, tanned and your jeans fit you. Ahhh, the stories were great. It got me thinking how important it is to focus on smut, I mean fun things, whatever that may mean to you. The world is so filled with fear and sadness at the moment, but for a few hours I was grinning and sniggering to myself, and enjoying every moment.

Then I thought how amazing it is that people write stories, enter competitions, make craft and put stuff out into the world. And, you never know who is going to be touched by the thing you create. Even if it’s one person, sitting up in bed with a grin from ear to ear (I’ve seen that in the hospital more than once, when a patient has a Mills & Boon in her grasp), then your creation has made the world a better place. So, pick up your knitting needles, get those fingers on the keyboard or paint that picture. Really, your creation might be the one thing that makes the day of someone you have never, and will never meet. What a magnificent thought!

I’ve Admitted Defeat

 

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Well, at least on the kale front. I’m just going to say it. I don’t like kale, I can’t stand quinoa and I think my green smoothie days are over. However, I’m still loving my fruit smoothies so all is not lost with my Magic Bullet. I also had to admit defeat this week on squashing my creativity into a rigid daily timetable of set amount of words at a set time each day.

At the beginning of the year I set myself quite a few ‘goals’. I’ve realised that my life can’t be that rigid. I do know some people can organise themselves into powerhouses of amazing achievements, but I’m not one of them. Instead, I’m sitting down for an hour each day and just writing for the fun of it. No word count, no deadlines, no pressure. Otherwise, writing becomes like having to drink a kale smoothie every morning vs. eating what you feel like at breakfast. There’s something so depressing about ‘should’. I’m not saying discipline isn’t important (hello weekly yoga class and daily french lessons on Duolingo), but at the end of the day, I’m not sure following some weird idea of what life ‘should be’ is a recipe for success.

So, onwards! With less kale, a few more laughs and less pressure to achieve.

An alien poo in my tea

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I’ve got a feeling fermented foods are going to be the next craze in our fad-obsessed diet culture. But that’s a good thing, because 70% of our immune system exists in out gut, and fermented foods are excellent for improving gut health.

So, enter kombucha tea; a fermented substance that looks something like an alien poo, floating in a sea of urine (that’s the nurse in me coming out – sorry). It’s a pretty scary looking brew, however you view it.

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I came across it at a health fair, where I spoke to a herbalist who sold me a bottle of the tea. There was a tiny wisp of the alien poo thing (called a scoby), floating in the cold brew. After a bit of internet searching, I decided to try and produce my own tea, by growing the scoby, with the hope that I wasn’t going to poison myself to death in the process. The top picture shows how big the initial scoby was, and the bottom photo is what it looks like at the moment. So far, both myself and my muse are still alive. The finished product tastes much better than it looks, that is if you like things that taste like a cross between vinegar and sweet tea. The floating poo thingie sits in a brew of cold, sugary tea, and turns it into fermented kombucha tea, which you drink morning and night (just a tiny cup full at this stage.)

I’m not even going to attempt to advise on how to cultivate this stuff, as I’m still on a learning curve, but if you are interested, then it’s certainly a journey into quite strange food territory. And it’s something you can use to frighten unwanted guests away!

I’ll let you know how it goes…