Tag Archives: lifestyle

Back to the start

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The most common question I get asked is, “How did you get started?”.

Now, I know they’re not asking questions regarding how I was conceived because god knows I don’t want to discuss or imagine this. No, generally this question is asked when people see photos like this:

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Undesirable No. 1 

As an aside, people look at me fitting into one leg of my jeans or shorts or in this case, jean shorts, and comment that I’m half the size. In terms of weight loss, no. I’ve now officially lost over a third of my body weight. So I’m not half the size. Or half the person. Maybe that’s my brain being factual, or maybe it is the actual facts in answer to a statement where I have missed the point. Anything is possible. But my money would be on the latter option.

Anyway, how did I get started?

For me, the answer is this: Find a reason.

It needs to be a good one. An overarching reason. A reason that will make you tie your shoe laces and go, even when it’s cold or you’re sad or too busy or too stressed. It has to be a big reason, a reason that resonates with the core of your being and your will.

Nudging obesity related health conditions was not a big enough reason.

Being in constant pain was not a big enough reason.

Slow, unfit, hugely overweight: not big enough reasons, not for me.

Hating my body, and myself for what I’d let it become? Still not there.

Because all of these reasons, which are good reasons, weren’t enough for me to act.

For me, the big enough reason happened 14 years ago. But I didn’t turn it into a reason until July of 2015. Almost two years ago. So it took twelve years to realise the reason was there. It also took a considerable mind shift.

14 years ago, my mum died very suddenly.

She had some health issues, and was overweight.

There are things I won’t ever forget from the night she died.

It’s easy and natural to be stuck in grief.

But the thing is, I knew I was heading down a path to recreate this moment for my people. I was barrelling down the road that was going to put my people through the same thing. And when I looked at them and thought about them, I couldn’t understand why I would put them through that. For some of them, it would be the second time they would have to confront these experiences.

And so that cloak of mourning and grief had to be changed.

It became the hand on my back, pushing me forwards. It became the reminder on to the too cold too tired too hard days. It became the furnace that rose up from the pit of my belly and told me I could do this. It became the momentum behind my walking and running, the power in my weight lifting, the reason to scan my gym card or to sign up for yet another fun run.

When I hit the 50kg gone point, my aunt told me that I had realised mum’s goal.

And as my health improved, as well as my fitness, I had realised my own.

I’ve dodged a bullet, not only for myself but also for my people. And it comes down to that reason.

Essentially, my reason was love.

My reason was about changing the way that most painful moment changed my life. It took 12 years to get there, fortunately that was OK. But I don’t know how much time there was going to be to find that reason. I have no idea where I would have been today if I hadn’t started.

It’s a sobering thought.

Here’s something I know, though:

If you find a reason – and it must be a big one – then you’ve started. From there, it’s about moving. Find something you’ve enjoyed in the past. Walking? Swimming? Skipping? Set those beginning goals low. Walk to the mailbox and back each day. Walk in water if you’re sore. It’s not about speed, because you’re not racing anyone. It’s not about distance, because even marathon runners start small.

It’s just about starting.

And then remembering why you started.

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I won’t ever stop wanting my mum back. But I also know that the last thing she ever gave me was the power to save my life.

Which seems fitting, given she gave me that life in the first place.

 

The slab of meat

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I went to a social thing with a group of friends. Most I knew quite well, some were acquaintances and others were new to me. One of them greeted me with, “So how are your surgeries going?” and in that instant I felt like I lost my humanity. In my head I became a slab of meat, full of stitches and scars and procedures. I ceased being about my music and my writing and my volunteer work, and the passions and preferences that ignite my creativity and my individuality, and I became a slab of meat.

I am the first to admit that I have had a rotten run of things. Not a single person in the world goes in to surgery lightly, and when it has to happen again and again, you can safely assume that this isn’t something that person is choosing as a new hobby. It isn’t a recreational pastime or an adventure sport. It’s more likely to be shitty and confronting and scary, with no real secure promise of what the result is going to be.

In the midst of all of this, it is easy to forget the person inside the body that is being cut open – it is easy to forget that they are there.

Earlier this year I had a “discussion” with my GP about this. I told her that I felt like I couldn’t plan anything because I didn’t know what part of my body was going to let me down next. We talked about different things that could be causing this, we talked about broken mirrors and rotten luck. We talked about the things I had wanted to achieve this year, and the different barriers that had arise, changing those goals. We talked about the things that could help, if not maintain health then at least give me a better chance to get through shit as it arises.

I went to my car and bawled my eyes out.

In my head I physically couldn’t go to the gym or get active enough to lose weight, which would be extremely helpful when it came to my physical health. Even eating properly was a challenge because the simple fact is that beloved and I already were eating very healthily.

Then I remembered those words. “How are all your surgeries going?”

I don’t want to be the sum total of scars and repairs.

So I joined a gym a couple of months ago. I figured I could at least sit on a bike and pedal. And I could, and I could do the treadmill and the cross trainer, too. And weights!! God, I forgot how much I love doing weights. You see I have in the past been a gym person –  before I moved up here. And it was some of the best times ever. I stopped when I busted my ankle. But my ankle is fixed now. So off I went.

Since then, I’ve dropped 10kg.

There’s a shitload more to go, I know that. And life has indeed reared up and given me another kick. But fuck it. I kick back now. I kick back.

I’ve set myself the goal of doing a 6km mud run next march. I can’t wait. It’s going to be fantastic.

I am not just a slab of meat connected by scars and stitches.

I am a person with goals and dreams and passions and people of the highest quality around her.

I am a human being and I am turning this shit around.

I am a human being.

I am a human.

The Granite Block

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This post is the result of much thought. And I know this could be a risky post. Not because of the content, but because I know I am writing to some people who might read it and decide I am having a go at them. I assure you, I am not. I’m really not.

I also want to say that I have friends who are Christians, whom I love. The very vast majority of them have continued to treat me exactly the same way as they did before I came out. And even though there are disagreements regarding marriage equality, we are adult enough to accept that people have different viewpoints. We remember in our hearts that we are human and that our history and the value we see in each other is reason enough to continue our friendship, regardless of differences.

And it’s because I know that you love me, that I want to bring this up:

Those posts you share, full of “buts” – they are doing a huge amount of damage.

I imagine that we all have this big block of granite, which represents our faith – in ourselves, in the god of our understanding, in people, in faith itself. When I was gathering up the courage to come out, I looked at my block of granite. I considered the people who I knew could be offended by what I had been puzzling about for years. I considered my understanding of the Bible, of the god I believed in. And in confidence in these things, I spoke those words: “I think I might be a little bit gay”.

For the most part, there was unending support. And when the US announced marriage equality this week, I loved the surprise of seeing Christian allies with their rainbow-tinted profile pictures. I was so proud of them, knowing all too well what they were risking in doing so.

Image by The Naughty Corner, and by that app thing that put a rainbow over your profile picture.

Image by The Naughty Corner, and by that app thing that put a rainbow over your profile picture.

But this announcement from the USA also saw an increase in those “but” posts.

Posts that share content that compares marriage equality to paedophilia, followed with a “but I am not judging you”. Posts that are prefaced with a “This is what I believe but I love everyone”.

That word.

But.

Now, back to that block of granite. I want you to consider what it is like, from this side of things. Having questioned your sexuality for most of your life. Knowing that being true to yourself risked rejection. Violence. Threats. Hatred. Having to consider and double consider what you say and where you say it and who you say it to. Usually, mental health issues, including anxiety, suicidal ideation, depression, self harm and so on. I’m not saying these are unique to the gay community – in fact, most Christians I know experience exactly the same thing with their faith.

This if nothing else should unite us.

When I first came out, trusting in my granite block, that first rejection was like a chisel rested on the granite and was hit by a mallet. And just like that, a chip was knocked away. I’ve been out for almost 5 years now. And that block of granite has changed shape significantly. In this last week, it has taken some almighty blows. But, but, but. Chip, chip, chip.

I could talk to the people who have shared this stuff individually. But I know that I can’t be the only one experiencing this. And also, perhaps stupidly, I don’t want to hurt them.

I could try to glue those chips back onto my granite block, and not let their well meaning daggers stab me too deeply. But I bet you’d still see the cracks on my granite block, wouldn’t you.

Source: freedomtomarry.org

Source: freedomtomarry.org

I expect that what is left is to either give up on my granite block, or write something that tries to explain what it is like, in the hopes that these words offer comfort to other people going through the same thing.

So here goes:

I love the Christian authors who publish articles, but I don’t love that you are flat out mean. I love the Christian artists that create pictures depicting their beliefs, but I don’t love that you are ignorant and cruel in your captions and assumptions. I love the Christian bloggers who are safe to share their faith without fear of persecution, but I really dislike being persecuted.

I love my Christian friends who share their “but” posts, but I wish you could understand the hurt it creates. Just like, I am sure, my rainbow picture hurts you. Just like my orientation hurts your faith. I get it. I really do. But please, before you hit “share”, consider the impact those words are going to have on all people.

Because really, what we are disagreeing on, is love.

And in the world we have in 2015, to disagree on love is a tragedy.

A Hero’s Exit

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A Hero’s Exit

Remembrance Day.

The eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month – we remember them.

I sat on a bench outside and Scout sat near me and we gazed into the world around and she thought about probably tennis balls or something, and I thought about my grandad.

Jack.

In the cruelty of life, in his later years Jack was silenced by a series of strokes that took much of his speech, all his mobility and the majority of his movement. He died in a nursing home. He was skinny when he died and his hands were still gnarled and brown and strong. And he could still swear and he could still laugh but sometimes there was no sound. And the last time I saw him was with my family and he was dying and getting old and weak and frail and I tried not to cry but as I left his room I looked back and he was crying and he said words. He gestured towards the door and said with a voice full of sobs, take care of her. Take care of this one.

Jack.

To be fair, Jack should have died as he lived. Brave. On the land. A heart attack, maybe. The muscles on his arms and the slight bow-leggedness, and the surprising array of things he made – including a house, a pool, a buggy for his horse, a walking stick that hid a massive and probably illegal sword. But it was stroke.

His last years were quiet. A blanket of granny squares, wheelchairs and being spoon fed. Shamefully irregular visitors from me, because I wasn’t brave enough to visit more often. Because what the fuck had happened to my grandad? I was at uni when he died, so absolutely old enough to deal with it all better than I did. But I didn’t. And I’m sorry.

Jack.

Grandad’s brain was badly damaged by the strokes that he had, but nan asked him once if he remembered being a soldier. He replied “I certainly do!”. I’m glad. Because he remembered something he was proud of. My grandad is a hero.

He was interviewed for the local paper one year. They did a story entitled “East Kurrajong man remembers D-Day landing”. I read that story countless times. Among the things he said, one line still stands out in my memory.

Men changed that day. They went from boys to men.

The horror and the torment and the shock of what he saw and lived through. I cannot imagine. And thanks to him, I don’t have to.

Jack.

Grandad.

I’ve been taken care of, Grandad. I’m OK. I miss you and I miss Nan. But I’m OK. And I’m sorry I couldn’t come more to see you. And I’m sorry your life finished like that. You’re a hero. You deserved a hero’s exit. Not the quiet whimper you had. But when I remember the Union Jack draped on your coffin. The Last Post ringing through the crematorium. The pride on Nan’s face. The way my heart felt like it was going to explode. You had your hero’s exit. 

A bit of a think

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I’ve been a bit… missing in the blogosphere lately. It’s really hard to not feel like a massive failure, to be honest. I look at these amazing other bloggers, and see how their pages have more likes, they have more fans, they have paid work coming through… and here I am in Newcastle, living opposite a park with random wandering bulls, writing to a small (but distinguished) audience.

Another example of failuredom that I’m feeling at the moment revolves around a small white dog named Harry. He had a haircut this week and is handsome as all buggery. Here he is:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but this handsome little lad loves to run in the park. As fast as he absolutely can. And on the weekend, my sister took him running. Oh Harry’s little legs propelled him around the park like a hound possessed. He had a glorious time!

Then my sister had to go back home, and the reality of disappointment hit: Harry’s mummy Kel cannot run. Mummy Kel is still waiting for ankle surgery. Mummy Kel is left feeling somewhat useless when it comes to meeting the athletic needs of a small white dog. My beautiful beloved takes him for a run while I throw the ball for Scouty, which is a really good solution.

But why can’t I do that?

Obviously, because my ankle is screwed.

That’s the thing about failure, I suppose – you never really feel it until you start comparing yourself to other people.

So here’s an approach I’m trying on for size.

I’m glad I am not as hairy as Scouty.

I’m glad I am not as smelly as those vomit flowers that only bloom once a year.

I’m glad I am more useful than the little pockets that some old-school underpants have on them.

At least I’m not a rectal thermometer!

I’m so proud of myself for not deciding to run with Harry and leading us both, at best, under a truck and at worst, through one of the many cow pats that now reside in the park.

Things could be worse.

Do you ever feel this way? How do you snap out of it?

The little things: A list of my top ten.

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I’ve kept the brain cells churning after yesterday’s post regarding happiness. And I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I am indeed a simple girl. Because when I list the things that make me happy, or at the very least with force my mouth in an upwards motion, there’s not a lot on that list that isn’t easily accessible.

Here’s my top ten little things:

10. The perfect hot drink. I’m a coffee girl through and through, but tea also has a place. But whatever the beverage, a hot drink warms you up from the inside out. Todd Carney should give that a go.

9. Cloud spotting. Cloud porn is awesome. A mate of mine is the king of cloud photos. Check him out here. The best thing about clouds is that they are there even if you don’t notice them. On cloudy days, anyway.

8. Watching the dogs interact with life. Totally hilarious, often touching, and guaranteed to make me grin like a loon.

7. The current strawberry scented soy melt in the oil burner. Oh My God. Here is where you can buy them.

6. Immature, yes, but that moment when you know there is a big belch brewing, and you find someone to do it in front of. The awkward silence that follows such an act is another favourite of mine.

5. Texting, talking, emailing with the frigging awesome people in my life. Particularly the once who have moved interstate. Miss your arses.

4. Too much wool and yarn. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH. But I can get a ball for less than $3 and make a beanie or a beard and be a happy camper. This get up is similar to one of the prizes on The Naughty Corner Facebook comp.

 

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

3. Cooking. Particularly baking. Banana and blueberry masterpiece:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

2. My people. My sister, my adopted sisters, my besty. My dear Dad. The aunts and the uncles and the cousins and the brother and much longed for. My beautiful beloved, who loves me even when I am a moody horrible git.

1. Life. Because I’ve realised it’s actually pretty damn good.

What are your little things? What makes you smile?

Happy

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I’m running a little Facebook competition at the moment, and people are entering by uploading their happiest face.

As picture comments slowly come in, I realised it might seem like a somewhat peculiar challenge for people, to upload a photo of their happiest face. So here is the explanation.

To choose to be purposefully happy is a big thing.

To focus for the amount of time it takes to take a happy selfy is no small task. You have to be happy. You have to commit to that moment. And for some of us, that is a huge challenge.

This meme captured my attention this weekend:

 

Image source unknown.

Image source unknown.

Big dose of truth, right there.

Because there is nothing more terrifying than battling with your own mind every single day. If you are fortunate, you’ve never danced with mental illness. Fortunate, and rare. And it takes a huge amount of determination and commitment and time and effort and energy and will and trying and failing and trying and failing to do each day. The fact that you got through another day? You are one badass mother fucker.

Relevance to a Facebook competition? Well. When every ounce and scrap of brain chemistry is convincing you that all is indeed lost, to find the intestinal fortitude to step to the side and snap a photo of your happiest face – that is some impressive stuff.

I can tell you that as a mental health consumer, the public system resources for people with mental health issues in Australia is stretched beyond what is reasonable. We’re at a point where mental maintenance is the result. Maintenance of coping. Maintenance of holding. Mental health seems to be a goal that is always somewhere over… there.

So you know what? I’m absolutely running a competition where people have to stop and be happy to enter. Because it just might be the only happy moment they get in their day.

If you reside in Australia you are welcome to enter. Actually, wherever you live, you are welcome to enter… you just won’t be able to receive a prize!

And if it is good enough for me to ask everyone to do it, here is my happy selfy. No editing, no filters, apparently no hair brush:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

What makes you smile?

 

All the better to see you with

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My glasses finally arrived:

 

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

They make me look quite wise, yes?

I picked them up yesterday and seriously, I have been loving myself sick in them. I can SEE everything in the world. Which is peculiar, given that they are exactly the same strength as my previous glasses. But these frames make me look so grown up and clever and wise, that I was honestly quite stunned when I made a series of poor decisions yesterday afternoon.

It started with the wind.

It’s been blowing an absolute gale here. The kind of wind where you see red shoes and stripy stockings poking out from under your house, and munchkins offer you lollipops as if they belong here. It’s so windy that I have been expecting to see Helen Hunt and her storm chasing friends come barrelling through Newcastle. It’s so windy that I have not been blamed for it once.

This is a step forwards, I feel.

I read somewhere or other that pets needed to be kept inside – information that I was quite pleased about as it signalled one thing: FURRY SLEEP OVER!

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

And I have to say, I could not see a single thing that could possibly go wrong.

Then the lights went out. And I decided to try to capture the moment of five in the bed, snuggled together for warmth and safety. It would work, I reasoned – after all, I have a flash.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

I think those little green circles are puppy eyes.

The flash shall henceforth be known as The Flash That Stole Sleep.

The flash shocked all three dogs, and my beloved.

Scouty blamed Zelda. Zelda barked at Harry. Harry ran off the bed and barked out the window. Scouty followed him, and they both barked at the window. Zelda took the moment to crawl up the bed and take my pillow hostage. Then I heard Harry and Scouty rolling in… something. In the morning I realised they had been rolling in a pair of underpants that had been left on the floor. Rolling over, they both jumped back on the bed. Then one of them leaped over me to get to their bean bag. Finally, the chaos ceased when Scouty curled her 20+kg self up smack in the middle of the bed, her head plopped onto my tummy and fell asleep.

Did I mention Scout snores just as well as my beloved?

Fortunately, I was fast asleep soon after, thanks to the painkillers I am on for my ankle.

But my beloved tells me it was a Long, Long Night.

Those glasses that made me look so wise?

Just one poor decision, and now they make me look like this:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

 

Lost and Found

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One of the things my beloved loves most in the entire world is searching for junk. Not just any junk – she tends to look at things with eyes that see the potential of what could be. Which is fortunate for me, but not so fortunate for our storage capacities. As I write, she’s giving new life to a table top that she spotted at an old wares store. It’s more like a huge garage, but the original tenants filled it with so much stuff that they just moved away, threw in a cash register and crossed their fingers.

While she sees the potential for new life in the stuff that she collects, I am the story spotter. It’s these micro stories that are the subject of this post… enjoy this brief and somewhat bizarre trip into the world of Naughty Corner!

 

1. Felix the Field Mouse

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Image by The Naughty Corner.

Unbeknownst to her family, Avril included little Felix amongst her packing as she, her sister and parents prepared to board a ship that would sail them to a new land – that of Australia. Avril had suffered Rheumatic Fever several years ago, an illness that stole her right to play and frolic with the other children. Every cough and wheeze was a potential relapse, therefore her little life was guarded jealously from the Thief That Tried To Steal. Felix survived the trip, as did Avril and her family. Upon establishing their new life on an empty block of land, Avril kept Felix well fed and well loved. Sadly, the life of an international field mouse is a short lived one. Felix was eaten by a cat, who pretended she had a taste for international dining yet in all honesty, couldn’t stand those that travelled to her land for safety. Trying to justify her purry actions by claiming Felix as akin to frog legs and escargot, the cat chomped into Felix and slurped his tail as mere afterthought. Cat then learned that English cuisine is inferior to that of the French, and she vomited the head as a warning to future travellers. Cat was later reincarnated as Tony Abbott.

2. A tale of insufficiency

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Image by The Naughty Corner.

Many of you may be unaware that the original designs of the modern toilet were made with a more primitive diet in mind. When they were first built, they were sufficient. As time went on and diets became larger and more varied, toilets had to change. This has kept infinite plumbers employed for many, many years. I dread to consider the size and shape of the common toilet in 50 years.

3. From which to orate

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Image by The Naughty Corner.

This lectern, although dusty and somewhat battered, was the only support to the early speeches of one Jack Miles. Jack (the father of the aforementioned Avril) delivered many an address to his teenage daughters, many of which featured reference to “that sodding rat”, as poor Felix came to be known as. Jack would orate about the sacrifices he and his wife had made. He would spout to the pigs, the horses and to his dear canine, Carla. In later days, Jack found new audience in his grandchildren, and discovered that one in particular would listen for hours, if given a shandy and the promise of a rude joke. Jack eventually lost his speech and then his life as a result of several strokes. He was a war veteran and a hero.

4. The Birth of the Slap

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Image by The Naughty Corner.

This book is The Guide to Operating the Television. It is several inches thick and full of complex diagrams and wording. While the pages are in excellent condition, it was very easy to see why the simplest way to improve the picture, the sound – any problem really – was to deliver to the television a short, sharp slap to the side. If this failed, owners would stamp their foot quite firmly next to the television. With the invention of flat screen televisions, The Slap is less common but remains the most direct way of dealing with poor transmission. Now, however, it is delivered to the person who changes the channel just before full time.

5. Down Tools

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Image by The Naughty Corner.

The hands that have held these tools!

The things they were used to create!

So mind blowing are these thoughts that rather than share the stories of these tools, they have gathered together upon sagging shelves. When no one is watching they partake in home brew and brag about their accomplishments, keen to display their tales of who and what and when. The comparisons end, however, when a shopper arrives. Then it is solely down to which tool sparkles the most.

6. Dashed Hope

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Image by The Naughty Corner.

Every child knows that biscuit tins, chocolate tins, lolly tins – they only contain their original intention just once. Then they filled with useless things such as money, sewing utensils, nails, screws, marijuana and random bits of stuff that has no other home. The depth of disappointment these tins deliver is ongoing, and responsible for the demise of many relationships between parent and child.

8. Thoughts for Sale

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Image by The Naughty Corner.

Words, words, words. Delivering stories, memories, imaginings. Daydreams. Good times. Bad times. Written now for word counts, for deadlines, to gain more clicks, to seductively inspire “Likes” and “Shares”. But what good are words if no one is reading? Friends, readThere are stories waiting.