Hello 2018 – The Year of being kind to myself

 

It’s 41 degrees Celsius here today (that’s 106F, or as I like to say, bloody hot), and after a genuinely wonderful festive season, I’ve taken the Christmas decorations and tree down, packed them away for another year, and am lurking in the house until a cool change comes through tonight (apparently with 90km winds). As I was packing away the decorations, I wondered where we will all be in 12 months? I’m old enough now to know that anything can happen. And often does. I don’t take things for granted like I used to. Especially after last year’s health scare, I’m determined to make 2018 a fabulous year.

It’s easy to think about having a fabulous year, and a little more complicated to try and figure out what that means. For me, it means:

  1. Talking more kindly about myself, to myself and others. No more ‘too fat, too old, no good’ talk. Enough of that, it’s nonsense.
  2. Enjoying each day a bit more. Really enjoying my friends, my work, my hobbies. Relishing and savouring life more than I have let myself in the past. Looking at the good around me, focusing less on the negatives.
  3. Making time for stuff I love to do. I’ve spent so much of my life, especially when I was younger, doing what I thought I was supposed to do on all levels. Only to find out it’s pointless and doesn’t make you happy. Being creative makes me happy. Cleaning the shower does not.
  4. Letting others off the hook a bit more. I’m sure as I do that with myself, I’ll be able to really do it for others too. Easing up on life.
  5. If I get stuck on any of the above, asking myself my soul question: ‘what would Celine do?’

So, that’s the plan. The Year of Being Kind to Myself. Slightly more ambitious than The Year of Reading Instructions was, but I’m sure it’s going to be just as useful. In the meantime, have a wonderful January, be kind to yourself, and let’s make this the best year yet.

Things I love about Christmas!

It’s the festive season, here in Australia, and the other day, while explaining to someone how much I love Celine Dion, I got onto discussing all the things I bloody love about this time of year. Sure, there are a few speed bumps to having a perfect Christmas, such as family dynamics that make walking through a mine field look easy. And there’s the fact it doesn’t snow here. Just about all our Christmas cards depict snow, but it’s summer on this side of the world, and we often have hideous heatwaves, which are no fun when you are trying to roast a turkey and a whole bunch of vegetables. But it’s excellent if you want to go to the beach and swim, and there’s always the option of cold ham and salad for lunch if it’s too hot to cook.

However, in the spirit of ‘what would Celine do?’ if faced with such issues, I’ve decided she would look around at all the things she loves at this time of year. So I’ve decided to list all the great things I love about Christmas,

  • Glittery things are everywhere. You can’t turn around without running into some glitter-covered hanging orb or weird and wonderful Christmas decoration. My muse has no choice except to submit to five strings of fairy lights going up around the interior of the house, not to mention all the Christmas lights people put on the outside of their houses. Ordinary goes out the door, as our bit of the universe turns into a wonderland of Christmas-themed mismatched decorations that are frankly, fabulous.
  • People are in a party mood, and suddenly it’s easy to put your friends and family first on the list, rather than doing the washing or some other onerous chore like vacuuming. Meeting friends for a cocktail, or a bite to eat becomes the norm, as parties pop up around you. It’s also a great excuse to dress up and not cook dinner, because you are going out.
  • Food. We had a Christmas party sausage sizzle followed by an ice-cream truck dispensing soft-serve with a flake bar in it, all before Christmas carol choir practice the other day at work. Who is going to say ‘not for me thanks, I’m just eating superfoods this week’ when presented with those sort of options?
  • Clothing. You can wear super bright, silly jewellery, loud fabrics or tee shirts with stupid Christmas jokes on them, and people think you look great. Even headbands for your hair with reindeer antlers, and a string of flashing mini pineapple lights are acceptable work wear.
  • Christmas trees. In my book, nothing beats a well decorated tree, festooned with enough fairy lights to make you question if  you’ve died and reincarnated back into a 70s disco. I personally have a 6 foot, white Christmas tree in the lounge, covered in lights and baubles, which goes up on November 1st. It’s especially strange to have a white Christmas tree, given it has never snowed in my neck of the woods, and never will because it’s summer, but I love it.

I know Christmas can be a rough time for many, far different from the cookie-cutter family we are served up on ads on TV, but I’ve also come to the conclusion that there’s a bit of magic around at Christmas, that is well worth looking for. So, wherever you are this Christmas, and whatever you are doing, have a great day. After all, it’s what Celine would do.

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

If Celine Ruled the World (and other solutions to the shit we are currently in)

Celine

Celine Dion. If she ruled the world, what a wonderful place it would be. ‘Jane,’ I hear you say, ‘she’s amazing, but really?’ Yes. Really. Recently I was in lovely cocktail bar, where the owners know me so well, they put a martini glass in the fridge when they see me walk through the door (see my earlier post, ‘lifetime secret shared’). A young couple were also sitting at the bar, and for some reason, we started talking about Celine. The guy said that he had been travelling in West Africa a couple of years ago, and that he and his friends had been stopped at a border check point. AK40 semi automatics were drawn on them. They were taken into a small hut at gun point. Things were looking grim… Then Celine Dion came on their radio. The dude at the bar said ‘it’s the only time he’s seen men with guns taking a three minute silence, with tears in their eyes.’ I can totally understand that. The dude at the bar said ‘I hate Celine Dion.’ Dude, she saved your life. I’m just saying. Actually, I did say, ‘if I’d been there, I would have known the song, filled them in on the words, then told them about the time I saw her live in Las Vegas.’ Who knows where we could have all ended up? Probably sharing a meal somewhere.

Which brings me to my small contribution to world peace. Get to know your neighbour. My current neighbour is from Korea. I had her in for a chocolate cake morning tea recently with her two year old. Let me tell you. Two year olds are the same worldwide. Tornados, and magnets to barbie dolls and anything that might be small, which can break. What amazed me is, that despite our age differences and our cultural differences, we bonded over food, our hatred of housework, our muffin tops (we are going to join the gym together). I firmly believe, people want the same things. A home, family, a job, a direction in life. Friends. To belong. We can all contribute to this by creating it in our own little corner of the world.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, on the whole, I’ve found people are pretty much the same once you scratch the surface. It’s easy to pin labels on certain groups and demographics, and while some of the stereotypes are true, it’s much harder to hate each other once you’ve made a connection. Unless you don’t like Celine. Then we may have a problem…

Celine Dion inspired thoughts for the New Year

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I am so happy it’s 2015. While 2014 was not my finest hour, it taught me a lot. I was thinking about this when I came across an article on the internet titled ‘People Who Like Celine Dion Are People, Too’. WTF!! The article was written by a guy who hated Celine Dion, and pointed out that ‘an appreciation of pop music trades specifically in matters of coolness.’ In other words, he thought Celine Dion, and her fans, were uncool.

I’ve got to be honest, and say this is very much part of the human condition – being judged by what you like, who you like, and what you do. It’s almost like in society there is some club that only certain cool people are allowed to join. You get to join it if you are a certain shape (so you can wear the fashions deemed cool), if you listen to certain music (usually something not played on commercial radio), or you only see art house movies preferably with subtitles. I suspect you can’t join this club if you confess to having blubbed your way through a Celine Dion concert, and you certainly can’t join it if you love ferrets and make miniature dollhouses in your spare time.

Sometime last year it hit me that none of that matters. What matters is being happy, and having fun. It’s quite a hard thing to do, to stand up proud and say ‘I friggin’ love Celine Dion.’ It’s even harder to not care if you get laughed at, but here’s the secret. People never really grow up. We’re still all kids standing around in the playground, hoping to be accepted and wishing we could roll with that gang over there that everyone wants to be in. I think as we get older we don’t grow up. We just forget how to have fun, and we think everything is so serious and important. Actually, it isn’t. We all have responsibilities as we get older, but at the end of the day, you are going to be a lot happier doing something you love, than trying to fit in with everyone else. And one other thing. No one is truly watching you, and if they are judging you as being uncool, then really give them something to talk about.

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So, why not make 2015 the year when you hold your head up high, be your authentic self and damn well do what makes your heart sing! Happy 2015 everyone. May it be a great year for you.

 

 

What A Week…

photo 1-13Firstly, a big apology for the lack of posts in May. ‘Jane, we’ve really missed you. Where have you been?’ I hear you say. Well, I’ve been a bit down. Not getting any work at the hospital where you’re employed as a casual nurse, sending off your manuscript to publishers who don’t get back to you, realising you haven’t lost those ten kilos yet, and nearly ripping your thumb off while dismounting from your aerial hoop at circus class can take it’s toll on a gal’s joie de vie. However, as always, there is one person I look to for guidance and courage.

My Celine.

‘Celeine, what would you do if you were me?’ And invariably, I feel her reaching out to me to say ‘Jane, dust yourself off, hold your head high, and get back out there.’

It was also an extremely busy week in this usually quiet town. I got interviewed by a TV station about my writing, attended a healthcare protest on the steps of parliament, and then we had an armed siege not far from my house which closed off the centre of the city.

My friend Lauren also made me this totally delicious recipe which probably won’t help me lose 10kgs, but is so tasty and easy to make, I’m going to share it.

Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms In Chilli Garlic Butter

Ingredients

3 large Swiss mushrooms, or 6 smaller button mushrooms (but not the tiny ones)

50g garlic and herb Boursin cheese

20g butter

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 red chilli, finely chopped (add more if you love chilli)

Cracked black pepper

Method

Heath the oven to 190 C/376F. Pull the stems out of the mushrooms and discard. Next open the packet of cheese and try not to eat it all before you use it. Squish the cheese into the mushroom caps, then place the mushrooms into a baking dish.

Heat the butter to melt, and add the crushed garlic and chilli. Spoon the mixture onto the cheese-filled mushrooms, sprinkle with black pepper and put in the oven to bake for around 20 minutes.

photo-150Enjoy!

 

It’s all in the timing…

Her Sister's Wedding Large I was over the moon to see my second book appear as an e-book this week. The lovely ladies at Decadent Publications have done an amazing job, so please check out their website (yes, there is decadence and sweet romance there) at http://www.decadentpublishing.com/. There is some naughty and some nice stuff in there, but they are awesome. If you are thinking of getting a romance e-book published, check them out. They are going to be big.

So I was thinking about this book, and the fact I wrote it three years ago. Sometimes things take a long while to come to fruition. Lots of pieces have to fall into place. If there is one thing I have learnt in the last few years, it’s this: it’s all about the timing. People always talk about you getting your chance. I think you do. I think you have to realise when that chance is sitting in front of you, and then you have to take it. Don’t muck around, don’t make excuses. Go for it. The worst that can happen, is that you fail. Then you can go through your life with your head held high, saying “I gave it my best go.” There could be nothing worse than wanting to try, getting your chance then not grabbing it. So, in honour of fate, the powers that be, and that chance that comes your way, begging for you to say ‘yes’:

LET’S GO OUT TO THE BEST COCKTAIL BAR IN TOWN, THEN ON TO OUR FAVOURITE RESTAURANT!!

Barring that, cook yourself your favourite meal, hold your head high, and just remember; Celine Dion started her singing career on her kitchen table. xxx

An Epic Leap Forward

photo-66 I think there are moments in your life, which equate with giant leaps forward in your personal development, and vision of who you can be. I had such a moment today, in IKEA. I recently got an iPhone. Wow, I hear you say, how cool! I had a really strange phone for the last two years that no one could show me how to work. I don’t know why I got it – I think at the time I liked it’s cute little keyboard thingie, which broke after six months. I digress. So I’m in IKEA, and my muse rings me on Facetime. He’s discovered this little item on his iPhone, so there I am, sprung at IKEA, instead of home cleaning (today is cleaning day).

And by the way, can I say there are three things in life you should never let slip. Your weight, your fitness levels and your housework. The amount of time it takes to get back to normal levels, if you let any of these slide, is appalling.

Back to IKEA. I showed him a little bookcase I had my eye on, for my writing room. After he had showed me the factory he was visiting, we hung up. This is where it gets exciting/dangerous. I realised I could get on the internet, as I sat on a display chair in the bookcase department. I kind of wish my first internet experience on my phone (eva) had been something to do with Celine, but it wasn’t. I transferred some money so I could buy the damn bookcase. What a day!!

I feel like I’m living in Star Trek episode.

We watched Casino Royale last night on DVD. Gosh, could you be any cooler Jane, I hear you thinking. The reason I mention this, is that the movie heavily favours my favourite drink; a Vesper Martini. Daniel Craig isn’t too bad either. So, to celebrate my arrival into the world of the internet via the iPhone, here is the recipe for a Vesper. Yum (and drink in moderation. Don’t have six in one sitting like he does in Quantum of Solace, or you will end up being sick in the loo. I’m just saying).

VESPER MARTINI

  • 3 measures of Gordon’s Gin
  • 1 measure of vodka
  • 1/2 measure Kina Lillet
  • lemon peel for garnish

Preparation:

The Vesper according to Ian Fleming and James Bond: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

Nearly Better Than Celine…

IMG_0741 About two weeks ago, I had the chance to grab a place in a masterclass with a famous Australian author, Fiona McIntosh. She was brilliant. So brilliant, I contemplated ditching Celine Dion as my ‘go-to-girl’ when I need advice, instead replacing her with Fiona McIntosh as my screen saver. However, there have to be limits to your loyalties, and Celine is pretty well up there for me. Having said that, I love Fiona McIntosh only a smidgen less than Celine (you have been put on notice Mrs Dion).

What did you learn on your course, I hear you say? Well, I discovered the novel I was writing was crap, and I am now working on a new novel as a result of the course. Sometimes, you just have to change lanes mid-journey and be true to yourself (that sounds deep!) Fiona showed me that discipline (ie. not lying in bed until 9am on your days off reading Hello magazine), determination (not watching Dr Phil instead of writing while lying on the couch on your days off), and belief in yourself (as opposed to lying in the fetal position while chugging down red wine, when you get home from being sent to work in the ER as a nurse, when you have no emergency training), are what you need to succeed as a writer. That and a lucky break.

So, having pitched my imaginary new novel to a Sydney editor who came to the course (it was a masterclass!!!), I now have to write said imaginary novel, in about eight weeks. I think that could be my lucky break. I hope so, but if not, then well, fucked if I know. I shall post some new spring recipes soon. Until then – leap, then look. It works!

It’s Show Time!

photo-65Here’s a photo of me wondering if Celine Dion would drink three glasses of wine in quick succession on a hot night, when it is her husband’s birthday (and your sister has joined you as a partner in crime). It was my muse’s birthday last night, so we headed to his favourite haunt (Cork Wine Cafe, Adelaide) for a bevvie or four.

Anywhoooo, I’ve got off track because it’s show time! We live right opposite the show grounds of our city, and once a year, we have The Royal Show. What that entails is endless traffic jams, no parking spaces in the hood, the smell of cows in the air, people fighting outside our house (we are just the right distance away), fireworks every night at 9pm which scare the shit out of the ferrets, rubbish everywhere, screaming children, people renting out their front lawns as parking lots, and finally, an excuse to eat disgusting food.

Every year, my muse and I make our way over to see the animals, have a fairground ride, look at the Country Women’s Association Baking Competition, and eat things on a stick that should not be sold for human consumption. Frankly, my favourite is a meat pie (my death row meal, should I ever find myself in that situation), and a hot bucket of chips with loads of chicken salt.

I do have a great recipe for meat pies, but I’ll leave that for my next post (she says, intending to take fascinating photos of the fair for her blog). So instead, here is a fab chips recipe. Easy, cheap and oh so tasty!

HOT CHIPS WITH SALT

Ingredients:

Quite a few large potatoes

Olive oil

Salt

Method: Cut the potatoes into chip shapes. Put them in a saucepan of cold water, which covers them. Bring it to the boil, and when the chips are barely tender, drain from the water. Next, spread them out on a baking tray, pour some olive oil and salt over them, and bake in a really hot oven until they are crisp. So yummy!!