Tag Archives: writer

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.

 

On This Day

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To the me on the left: You’re stubborn. You’re surrounded by people who love you. You’re brave and fierce and determined. You have value and you are worthy.  I know you are uncomfortable. Everything hurts. Nothing is easy. Not walking not sitting not standing not anything. Every career path you’ve tried, you’ve struggled at because in your head you feel like everyone you know is judging you because of your size. They weren’t, but it’s hard to change a mind set, and it’s hard not to project your insecurities.

To the me in the middle: You’re stubborn. You’re surrounded by people who love you. You’re brave and fierce and determined. You have value and you are worthy. You kept it going. The idea of being a personal trainer was still tucked away behind that head of curls and strange ideas. You were discovering, at around this point, that you enjoyed exercising. You enjoyed the fun runs, the weights, the treadmills and the spin bikes and the different things that your body was suddenly able to do.

To the me on the right: You’re stubborn. You’re surrounded by people who love you. You’re brave and fierce and determined. You have value and you are worthy. You’re almost there now. You’ve taken that idea of being a personal trainer, completed the first part of your qualification and started the second. You’ve learned that the number on the scale isn’t overly important, what’s important is having a goal broken into micro goals, and then achieving them. You thought that losing weight would help you to be happy with yourself, and with your body. But then you discovered the joy of excess skin and chafing and random clapping. What you’ve been working for is hidden by a daily reminder of what was. What’s important though, is that it’s there. Hidden, yes. But there. You’ve worked your arse off, literally.

 

*     *     *     *     *

Those memory things on Facebook, they come up every day to remind you or taunt you or embarrass you about what you were doing on this day in previous years. The memories only go back for as long as you have been on Facebook, which proves that there is life outside of social media. Or, that there was.

It was because of the On This Day feature that I realised for the first ever time that my regime of training, walking, running, lifting and generally moving was making a difference to my body. It was 12 months ago, on this day, apparently, that I made this realisation.

It was a photo of me in my Scout uniform shirt. It was the largest size shirt that I could purchase. You can see how it fits – it was tight. And I remember seeing that photo of myself and thinking, “Hang on, my Scout shirt doesn’t fit like that anymore!”. So I put on my shirt and took a photo and compared them, side by side. It was a pretty huge moment.

Anyway, that original photo popped up in my On This Day reel today. I’m not doing Scouts anymore – I finished up last year so that I could focus more on my shifting priorities. So for shits and giggles more than anything else, I went and found my shirt and popped it on.

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The me on the left. The me in the middle. And the me on the right.

Thanks.

 

 

The Measure

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I wanted to write a quick post mainly because The Biggest Loser kicks off tonight on Australian screens. If you’re not familiar with the show, a quick introduction: people apply/audition to be on the show based on their weight and wanting to change their lifestyle. Contestants are picked from the applications, and are then designated a group and a trainer for the group. The trainer generally yells and motivates the contestants through a variety of means. Contestants vomit, work hard, lose weight. Each week they weigh in and their weight loss is recorded. At first this is done either topless (men) or just in a sports bra (women). As they lose weight they start to wear singlets to the weigh ins. Then there’s a finale, and the person who has lost the greatest percent of their body weight wins.

The reason I want to write a blog in response to this is several-fold.

The Biggest Loser tends to encourage people to work on their fitness and lose weight. But you need to realise a couple of things.

1. You will not get the extraordinary weekly results that the contestants on The Biggest Loser get. There are several reasons why. The first is that the weigh ins are not actually weekly. I have read differing amounts of time between weigh ins, but in general they seem to be every ten days or even fortnightly. Not weekly. The second reason you will not get those same results is because the contestants are taking part in an extreme and gruelling exercise regime. We’re talking many hours in the gym per day. This is not sustainable in real life, because we have things like jobs and kids and partners and pets and washing.

2. If you are particularly well endowed in the chesticle region, you will struggle to find a sports bra that offers the required scaffolding to support the girls. Do your research, they are out there but you do need to work hard to find them. I got my first few online. They’re expensive but they are absolutely necessary.

3. Most importantly, is this: If The Biggest Loser inspires you to get moving, or even to jump on the scales and assess where things are at, remember this. There is no number on earth that will ever be an accurate measure of who you are as a human being. Not the number on the scale. Not the number on your clothing. Not even the number that represents your chronological age. You’re more than a number. You’re worth more than numerical digits that attempt to sum up your worth. I am worth no more at my weight now than I was before I started my weight loss adventure. I will always be thankful to who I was when I started, because she did the hard yards: walking into a gym for the first time. God, even just walking. You are more than a number. You are.

The Biggest Loser isn’t a bad thing. Not at all.

But it always helps to remember the reality behind reality television.

 

 

The Literary Lunch

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So a few weeks ago the delightful Mrs Woog said that she was going to host a bloggers lunch. Mrs Woog is one of my blogging heroes. I don’t know if she has a cape and wears her undies on the outside. She might. But what she does have is one of those instantly lovable personalities that makes you wish you could go and raid her coffee machine and dig through her cupboards for hidden treats, then fart loudly as you leave. And you know it would be OK. I’m lucky, I have several friendships like this. Or maybe I have forced them to be as such, I don’t know.

Anyway anyway, just like that I’ve become distracted. I’m at my sister’s house in the Hawkesbury this weekend. My phone is connected to her government issue laptop (she’s a teacher), and I am hoping I have enough data to publish this. Time will tell.

The lunch!

I left Newy at 9:30. Being me, I knew I would spill coffee all over my clothing in the duration of the trip down so I put my lunch shirt in a bag and wore an old scruffy in the car. And as I drove to Sydney from Newcastle, my bladder began to fill. It’s OK, I reasoned. I’ll find a Maccas or a servo and get changed while I do a horse-type wee before lunch, then arrive cool calm and collected.

NOT SO, MY FRIENDS.

I found the lunch spot with bladder at capacity, and had roughly 20 minutes to spare. Not enough time to scout out a servo, and I hadn’t passed a Maccas in a while. I went to the nearby supermarket and asked if they could tell me where the nearest loo is – they pointed me to the cafe where lunch was happening. You know that funny walk you do when you have an exceptionally full bladder? That was me. For some reason I decided that I couldn’t use that toilet. So I got back in the car and had a little think.

The suburb had lots of trees. Oh don’t be disgusting I wasn’t going to wee on a tree. No, I figured I could simply pull to the side of the road and get changed in relative privacy, then return to the cafe for my ladylike wee.

It’s surprising how many houses are built to maximise view.

I found a little street called Pleasant Ave, and decided it was time for that street to see something unpleasant. Running low on time, I quickly stripped off and put my ladylike shirt on. Then buttoned it like a three year old with non-opposable thumbs. I had to rebutton that shirt twice.

By this stage I was nervous as all fuck.

Raced back to the cafe. And spotted the only big table, which already had several proper grown ups seated at it. Proper ones. Not imposters like me. I ducked into the cafe and did the BIGGEST WEE OF MY LIFE, then in my nervousness grabbed what I thought was toilet paper. I then spent several anxious moments hoping the giant wad of HAND TOWEL would flush. It did.

These proper grown up ladies were awesome, by the way. We all had stories which I imagine is why we all blog. Mrs Woog was a much gracious host, greeting me with a huge hug which calmed me right down. I pilfered a couple of champagne corks (for Cubs) and then sat back and listened.

I heard tales of fish caught in swimmers from Wendy Harmer. Of love, loss, hope and feral children. And of a common desire to write.

By the time I left I was full of excitement to blog more. I was reminded of why I blog, and what I get out of it.

And here it is:

My main aim in blogging is that making sure that people don’t feel alone. I cover a lot of stuff in this blog. Same sex relationships, mental health, faith, funny shit, misadventures. People. Story telling. But everything I write comes back down to one thing: Letting people know that there is someone else out there that experiences a range of emotions and experiences. The stuff that generally goes untalked about. The things that can be awkward to bring up. Things like mental health. Shit days. Grief. The way life can rise up and punch you in the face. The sheer joy of remembering. The twisted pathways of creating stories for things like gravestones and pulpits in a second hand store.

Because if I don’t, who will?

I’ve been punching away at this blog for around 3 years. Today, I have a fresh passion for it. So strap yourselves in, Naughty Corner people. The ride is about to get bumpy and more frequent.

I’d love to hear what you want more of from the Naughty Corner. Are there things I’m missing? Things you want to read more about? Hit me with it.

And in the meantime?

I’m about to test that data connection.

Have a top weekend.

Heart

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Another Stories of Stuff post. This one is inspired by a water stain.

The stain appeared on the ceiling in the kitchen. At first it was speckles of darkness against a canvas of pure white. Not enough to attract attention, but just a hint of a shadow of a promise of a coming stain. 

Time passed. Lives passed. Moments and moving and hustle and bustle. Arguments and resolution. Hate and love. Anger and forgiveness. The stain gained colour and strength, until the pigment gained depth and the shape of the stain began to form. 

Frustration over mislaid tiles on a roof. Damp issues? Rot? Something is amiss on the covering of the bricks and mortar that makes a house. As distinct from a home. 

The greater issue: absent members of a family. The missing strings, the broken ties, the ellipsis of a life snuffed out. Because there are no words. Just… three dots. 

The stain took on a final shape, and has rested on the ceiling for several months.  

Heart shaped stain on the ceiling. 

Imperfection where before was white. 

But what if. What if this was the person behind the ellipsis, reaching down from heaven and sending a sign of love? 

The thought alone was enough to rebuild. To swap feud for time. To exchange debt for freedom. To offer words instead of silence. Peace filled the house, and it became a home. 

There was still much puzzling over the stain. Is there a leak in the roof? Is the entire thing going to come crashing down? 

Each time the puzzling happened, the father would tell his adult daughter that he would deal with it. The adult daughter accepted that perhaps the stain could indeed be a reminder from a missing mother to simply love. Roofing companies were called, but they never turned up. 

The heart shaped stain stayed. 

As a reminder. 

Mum is with us. 

And yet at night, while the home sleeps, he is there on a chair with a paintbrush. He daubs the slurry mix of grey and brown onto the ceiling once a week. There’s nothing wrong with the tiles or the roof or the guttering. There is no leak. 

Just a man, getting older, reminding his family of the love of his wife. 

 

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.