I Am, I Know

I Just Don’t Know How To Be Any Different

In The Thick Of It Blog Comment

Cheryl left this comment on my last blog, asking how I go about self-care when it comes to wearing my, let’s call it, ‘cape of no fear’.

I’m not really sure how to answer or where to even start.

I realise that’s incredibly unhelpful, so I’m going to try and break it down.

I’m a really positive person. And when I say really, I mean r – e – a – l – l – y. Like, there’s almost something wrong with me really.

I believe it’s one of my greatest assets, but also one of my biggest downfalls.

It’s where a lot of my strength comes from, but it also makes me blind as hell.

And it’s a double-edged sword.

When shit hits the fan, when things go wrong, when nothing feels right, when people screw me over, my ability to see the positive is ridiculous. My knack of finding a shining light in everything and – to a certain extent – everyone, is outrageous. But it’s all I know. Why I am like that – why I think like that – is beyond me. I just don’t know how to be any different.

The problem with that is sometimes I’m a little out of reality. I don’t think ahead too much, and I don’t plan enough, and I get kicked in the guts more often than I’d like because…because…because in my head, it’s different.

I’m not stupid.

I’m not out of touch.

I’m not in la la land.

I’m quite reasonable.

I’m pretty intuitive.

It’s just that I always always come out the other end of every hiccup, every challenge… happy.

I told you. There’s almost something wrong with me.

I still go through the motions.

I feel it.

I feel everything.

Some days I just want to pack it all in. Other days you can’t tear me away from my computer. Some days I want to move to a tropical island and live off coconuts. Other days I have five coffees and six meetings and I swear sparks fly out of my shoes when I’m sashaying down the street. Some days I wake up and wish I could go back to sleep for 72 hours. Other days I’m up at 5am buzzing. Some days it takes the best part of twenty hours for me to tick two things off my to-do list. Other days my to-do list literally cannot keep up with me. Some days things hurt. Other days things don’t.

Sometimes I can feel myself starting to harden. When I’ve been burnt or disappointed. And then I remember that while it’s hard feeling so much, it’s better than feeling nothing at all. And while on the inside everything feels like it’s crumbling, it’s really not. And when all I want to do is curl up on the couch and get lost in something, it’s better to get dressed and show up.

For me, anyway.

I realised, actually, I decided, years ago, that I didn’t want to be the kind of person that let the bad things in life determine the kind of person they would be.

People often confuse my positivity with an assumption that the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced is a broken fingernail. It’s so ignorant of them. I don’t subscribe to the idea that if you’ve had a tough life – challenges, hurdles, obstacles – you need to be bitter about it.

What I know is that what’s happened has happened, and, for me, that means one of two things: let all the bad, all the hard, all the really messed up stuff hold me back or let it set me free. Let it bring me down or let it make me soar. Let it make me despondent or let it make me grow.

I always choose the second option.

I don’t know why.

I just don’t know how to be any different.

So, Cheryl, for you, or anyone else out there that feels the highest of highs, but also the lowest of lows, know this:

It has to be that way. As long as you have some of both, and some days that fall smack bang in the middle, you’re doing it right.

I need to feel low-spirited at times, because it makes the times when I’m towering over everything feel so much better. I need to feel angry and enraged and saddened at times, because it makes me feel. It makes me a better person. A better writer. And it makes the times I’m elated so much more valuable.

Some days you’ll want to Netflix your life away. You should. Some days you’ll want to be alone. So be alone. Some days you’ll just want to stare out a window for a while. So do exactly that.

We’ve got to stop permeating the idea that every day needs to be perfect and well-balanced.

It’s rubbish.

The truth is some days are good and some days are bad. Some days are easy and some days are hard. Some days make you and some days destroy you.

They’re just days. It’s just life.

And all I know is the difference between the people that are happy and the people that aren’t is the way they choose to be.

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I Am

You’re One Of Two People In This World, I’m Sure Of It

I’ve never understood people that live for the weekend.

Who doesn’t love a Wednesday?

Who can’t make the most of a Thursday?

Who lives for two days out of seven?

I’ve never understood people that are afraid to say what they’re thinking.

Who can keep it in?

Who can stew on letters and words?

Who can resist and refrain?

I’ve never understood people that worry about things that haven’t happened.

Who can be troubled by a hypothetical?

Who can limit their lives by fearing something that may not even occur?

Who can?

There’s so much I don’t understand.

I’m scared and you’re scared and we’re all scared.

They’re over there whining and worrying and the only difference between them and us is that we pull on our boots and step out onto the frost covered streets and give a damn.

Give a damn about life.

Give a damn that it’s Wednesday. Because Wednesdays are for living.

We make the choice between sitting back and marching on, and we choose to march on.

To discover new places; bars on corners and barns in fields, and meet new people – the kind that challenge and captivate – and we make it up as we go along, without any idea of how it’ll turn out. And it’s good. It’s brilliant and stirring and I think it’s what it means to be alive and they don’t know.

They don’t know what they’re missing out on.

That feeling; when nervous energy and apprehension and excitement combine in the pit of your stomach.

You’re one of two people in this world, I’m sure of it.

You either run from that feeling or you live for it.

You push it away or you embrace it.

You hide from it or wear it like a cloak.

Sometimes it’s heavy,

itchy,

sometimes it’s even too big,

but it’s a cloak I always want,

pinned on my shoulders,

engulfing and enveloping me.

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I Am, I Do, I Know

31 Things I Know, Now That I’m 31

1. When I was 16, I felt like I knew everything. Now that I’m 31, I know that I definitely don’t.

2. Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.’ As I get older, I see more and more people dying. Their bodies just haven’t realised it yet.

3. There’s nothing wrong with routine, or habit, but every now and again shake it up; take a different route, start the other way around, order a different drink. Just because.

4. Where possible, do things because you want to, not have to.

5. People change. It’s unreasonable to expect someone to be the same person for an entire lifetime.

6. Don’t make excuses.

7. A well-stocked freezer never disappoints. There will be nights when you’re cold and weary. Nights when your legs feel like lead. Nights when even thinking is too tiresome. These are the nights you defrost.

8. Different people will stir different things inside of you. That’s why your circle should be wide and varied.

9. We are guests of this world, this planet, and we don’t own shit; let’s all act accordingly.

10. People do the best that they can with what they have and what they know. But people can always do better.

11. Anything is possible. I mean Cadbury just put Vegemite in chocolate, so really.

12. Use everything; your best earrings, your favourite shoes, the expensive hand cream, the fancy gifts. Use ‘em all until they fray and run out and break.

13. Figure out what you’re not prepared to compromise on, ever, and don’t.

14. There’s very little black and white and a whole heap of grey.

15. If you have to choose between settling and running, run.

16. When a day ends and you’ve been scared and challenged and nervous, understand that’s not a bad day. That’s the very best type of day.

17. Live like you mean it.

18. When it all seems too hard, too big, too messy, wait until the sun sets and the sky goes midnight blue and the stars start twinkling. Then look up.

19. Love yourself first.

20. Someone recently shared some advice with me they’d once received, advice they live by: ‘just say yes’. So just say yes. To the things you want to do, to the things you don’t know how to do, to the things that scare you.

21. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone. Often.

22. Eat your greens.

23. You’ve just gotta listen to music every day.

24. There is enough of everything for everybody.

25. People will tell you to ‘be yourself’ but in order to do so, you’ve got to get really comfortable with who you genuinely are.

26. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.

27. One day you’re 20 and then you blink and you’re 30. Some days might be long but the years are short so if you can do something with them – something meaningful and good – then you should. Don’t let a decade pass only to wonder what could have been.

28. You will likely leave this world in a similar way to how you entered it; naked, screaming and gasping for air. I don’t know why people make the part in between those two events so difficult and pointless, but if you can help it, try not to be one of them.

29. Everyone is on this quest to find the blank white space where everything is neat and perfect and sorted and solid. And that’s great. But if you can get lost in the sticky for a while – that gooey, uncomfortable place that everyone’s running from – then you should. Get wildly lost.

30. Things are only ever as complicated as you make them.

31. To feel is to live. If you don’t feel it, you’re not living.

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I Am, I Know

Yesterday, I Was Called A Bully And A Bitch For Having An Opinion

On Thursday night, I shared a Facebook status from MND Australia, celebrating the fact they’ve had $500,000 donated in the past two weeks from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Sandi Sieger - Facebook Status

A Facebook “friend” made a point that the money they’ve raised is taking away from other charities and we delved into a discussion about it. Well, I think we tried to delve into a discussion about it, but when I began questioning the person – and sticking to my guns and not backing down from something I believe to be true – they didn’t like it. Not one bit.

The discussion very quickly moved away from the challenge and fast became all about me being a very insensitive and mean person for being so offensive. I did, after all, call people who are negative ‘miserable sods’.

Which they are. Well, at least from where I’m standing.

The thing most people that know me understand about me is this: I will never enter a debate, or be so incredibly headstrong during one, if a single fibre of my being is unsure about my exact opinion or the facts. And, during debate, I’m always open to other opinions and points and arguments – otherwise, you’re really just talking to yourself, aren’t you?

But here’s what people that know me also understand about me: I won’t tolerate bullshit. And name-calling. And finger pointing. And cowardice.

The discussion went down hill quickly because the questions I asked failed to get answered. Because they couldn’t be answered. Because hypocrisy was rife. And I called it out.

So I got called a bully.

And instead of bowing out (I gave an opportunity to ‘agree to disagree’), the person kept at it. And when I told them, if they continued, I’d give them something to be really offended about, they kept at it. So I told them to go and find something more productive to do with their day, instead of hassling me.

So I got called a bitch.

To be clear: being called a bully and bitch doesn’t bother me. I know I am neither.

What bothers me is that someone – this man – made our entire conversation redundant because he chose to be offensive (something he was admonishing me for, funnily enough) and, instead of answering the question, or raising a single point at all, threw his hands in the air and yelled ‘bully’ and ‘bitch’.

We all know it doesn’t work like that.

If you choose to enter a debate, be bloody prepared to battle it out, like an adult, leaving insults aside, and if you can’t handle it, don’t step up to the podium.

Or, as the old saying goes, don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

I’m assuming I was called a bully and a bitch because I dared to question him. Because I didn’t back down from my opinion. Because I didn’t give in. And because I wouldn’t just darn well come out and say that yes, I was offensive and yes, you are right and I shouldn’t call people who are being negative ‘haters’ or ‘miserable sods’.

The real issue is I called him out. Period. I dared to hit him with a little bit of honesty, without sugar-coating my words, and he didn’t like it.

That’s not really my problem.

I don’t expect everyone to always agree with me. Far from it. I’ve had my opinion swayed far more times than I’d like to admit because I sat back and listened to someone else’s view.

I believe healthy and lively discussion is the only way people, and countries, really progress.

But there’s a big, big problem in Australia at the moment; the second anyone shares an opinion (whether it be your version of right or wrong, or completely outrageous) they’re shut down and ridiculed. If they’re well known, the media turns their opinion into a circus, if they’re not well known, they’re defriended on Facebook and blacklisted.

All for having an opinion.

Let’s get one thing clear: healthy, lively debate, where both sides are prepared to listen, but also belt it out, is vital. It’s vital to life, and relationships, and growth, and hope.

But when adults allow themselves to be disgracefully over-sensitive, when they allow ignorance to rule their mouths, and shut down their ears, we are left with a really big problem.

Stagnancy.

We become boring and dull and downright sluggish.

And whilst I’m not suggesting that everybody starts throwing opinions around every five minutes, I am saying we need to shake off this culture of shush and start learning how to listen and engage without being so offended.

I have absolutely no problem with the person that called me a bully and a bitch. I’d sit opposite them at dinner tonight and chat away happily. But I doubt they could say the same applies for them.

When did people become so petty? When did we, as a culture, become so offended, by everything, that it blinded us from what really matters?

I always believe that out of a negative comes a positive. And yesterday, when I was scratching my head and wondering how little this person must really think of me, the positive started to appear.

My phone started ringing. I started getting text messages. And private messages. It was from friends saying: ‘Well done.’ ‘Good on you.’ ‘Need me to put my fist in anyone’s face for you?’ And they kept coming from people I haven’t seen in far too long: ‘I love it when you speak and write.’ ‘Go for the jugular!’ ‘I’ve just read through the comments on your profile and this bloke is a bit out of line, I just wanted to offer my support to you.’ And then they started coming from people I don’t even really know at all: ‘I totally agree with you!’ ‘You’re bloody goooooooooooood.’

And, that, right there, made me realise that out of all the good things in my life, and out of all the good things I have done, this was the very best of them: surrounding myself, and building for myself, a network of positive people. Passionate, intelligent, rational, spirited people.

They are the very antithesis of stagnant.

And the reason I’m writing all of this is because I want you to know that you should never shy away from your opinion. By doing so, you shy away from yourself.

I want you to know that you should always stand up for yourself and sticky by, and to, the things you believe in.

Most of all, I really want you to stop pussy-footing around. Around people. Around issues. Around ideas. Around yourself.

Be proud of who you are.

I sure as hell am.

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I Am

30

Tyler Knott Gregson - Wrinkles

Tomorrow, I turn 30.

It’s exciting.

People keep asking me how I feel about it.

I don’t quite know what to say.

Apart from the fact I am excited.

There’s more hype when the clock ticks over and you enter a new decade. It’s more of a big deal. Even though it’s very likely that you feel the exact same as you did the decade earlier.

And I do feel the same. Truth be told, I still feel 17.

Well, maybe 17 is a stretch. When I was 17 I was starting University. I don’t feel the same as I do then. I probably feel more like 22.

22. That was a good year.

Actually, all of my years have been good years.

I keep thinking that maybe 30 should be a bigger deal for me. That there should be some clearing out and reinventing and some serious life changes.

But I’ve kind of done all that, to a degree. I like to clear out and reinvent regularly, so as to avoid big life overhauls. I try to work towards being a better version of myself everyday. Not just on grand occasions.

It’s kind of nice to enter a new decade feeling relatively sorted. Without stress or anxiety. Quietly content.

I’ve made a life for myself – one filled with love, good people, a job made up of work that never feels like it, tear-inducing laughter more than is probably necessary and a sense of purpose – a life that I wake up every day chomping at the bit to get stuck into. None of that needs reinventing. I don’t want to clear any of it out.

I will approach 30 with the same attitude I approach any birthday, new year or Monday; with a promise to grab life by the balls and live like I mean it.

Tomorrow I will wake up next to the man that I love. I’ll plant kisses all over my little boy, who is so incredibly perfect it sometimes hurts. I’ll have breakfast and a coffee and walk my dogs through the hills. I’ll venture into the city with O and soak in the Melbourne sunshine while we meander the streets, stopping to watch buskers or the trams. We’ll play at the park for a while. Maybe we’ll pop into the library. Or a Musica Viva concert. Maybe we’ll just be for a while. And there’ll be calls from the people I love and kisses from family and the opening of presents and the excitement of my birthday party mere days away and I will probably sit back at some point and think, ‘well, isn’t this lovely.’

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I Am, I Do, I Know

Why I Love Him

This morning I read this beautiful piece, written by Malcolm Turnbull, to his wife, Lucy.

And I loved every line. It’s about real love; the kind that is enduring and somewhat rare. It’s about honest love; love that has grown, with people that have grown.

My favourite lines are these:

Yet, truthfully, we have been so lucky in so many ways. To meet the love of your life at all, let alone at such a young age, is such a blessing.

Over the years, we have grown together. It is almost impossible to imagine, let alone remember, what it was like not to be together, so much so that I have a much clearer sense of “Lucy and me” than I do of “me”.

I think I love this piece so much because it reminds me of my great love.

I met my husband when I was 17. He was 19. We have grown and evolved and changed but we did it together, teetering a fine line between growing and thriving personally and staying together, on the same path, walking beside each other but never for each other.

We did it, truthfully, without great effort. Without trying too hard. Or being too conscious of it.

I know people, couples, that have been wonderful but they met and then grew and then grew apart.

I’m not sure why we didn’t grow apart. Life has pulled us in different directions, it has sometimes even chewed one of us up and spat us out, somewhere far away, but together we have stayed.

I also don’t remember what it’s like to not be with Kaz. Even though we both have separate interests, and do things together, but often apart, I know he is always there, somewhere, metaphorically hovering around.

Perhaps that’s where our strength has been; being together whilst also remaining ourselves, pursuing our own interests, whilst supporting and fiercely defending each other.

Perhaps it’s because, before anything else, he is my best friend. And that has never waivered.

Perhaps we are lucky, but I don’t particularly believe in luck. Perhaps we have worked hard at it, but I know that hasn’t been the case, at least not most of the time. Or perhaps it’s because it just works, without too much effort, and maybe that’s the most important part.

Kaz and Sandi Sieger

On our wedding day 

There are so many reasons as to why I love Kaz; because he is kind and caring. Because he is funny and witty. Because he is talented and modest. Because he is fair and clever.

But maybe, and maybe somewhat selfishly, I love him because of how he makes me feel and how he improves my life.

Because he makes me laugh, when I need it most. Because he finds humour, and beauty, in things I would sometimes ignore.

Because he pushes me to be better, when I think I am, or have done, enough.

Because he makes me happy.

Because when I was in labour with O, he was brave, when I needed to be brave, even though he was more frightened than me.

Because he teaches me things, all the time, probably without even knowing it.

Because he makes me more capable than I already am.

Because he is my greatest cheerleader.

Because he usually makes me see the other side of an argument, or issue, and even though I usually fight the point, or disagree, I am later thankful. Sometimes I even change my mind.

I don’t remember ever thinking, or believing, that we’d never end up together, forever. I never saw my life without him in it. I still don’t. It’s unimaginable.

I know what we have is special. Sometimes people tell us that, and it’s a nice reminder. Sometimes we recognise it ourselves. Sometimes, I see a film, or read a piece like I did this morning, and I think, ‘I have that. We have that.’

And it’s all kinds of wonderful.

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I Am, I Do

Cutting Through The Bullshit

There’s a quiet still in my house that can only come from it being 6.15am on a Sunday morning. My husband is asleep, the baby is asleep… even my chow chow is curled up and breathing deeply.

It’s a nice place to be. It’s a nice thing to sit in the thick of. And, I’ve realised, sometimes you need moments of pure silence so you can hear yourself the clearest, and the loudest.

Over the past few days I’ve been meaning to find a moment to sit and reassess. Check in with myself and make sure everything’s on track. I’m generally in a good rhythm, but sometimes I can miss a beat.

Missing beats, for me, aren’t necessarily big things. They’re little things that, over time, add up until suddenly I find myself wondering…what am I doing?

You know what I mean.

The meeting you agreed to, but probably shouldn’t have. The coffee date you wish you hadn’t have made. Time spent doing a favour for someone you don’t even like…when you should have just said no. The phone call you keep taking. The salesperson you allowed to sway you, just a little.

I saw a dear friend yesterday, Gaynor Alder, and she said something that I know is true (and couldn’t have come at a better time):

“You’re all about cutting through the bullshit. It’s what I love about you.”

I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullshit. I just can’t stand it and I’ve no interest in playing with it. But, like anyone, from time to time I find myself dancing in a little pile of it, because I think that’s what’s required to play along… but it isn’t.

And the reality is that now, more than ever before, I’ve got the best ‘excuse’ for my zero tolerance policy. He’s about 57cm long and cute as a button.

A couple of months ago, my best friend Mickey told me that after you have a child, you really reassess what’s important in your life. Your friendships, your job, your commitments, everything, because your time is so precious. And you do, even in a subconscious way. Sometimes, even before your baby has entered the world.

Since having my little boy, I’ve been surprised at how determined I am to do better and be better. My passion for my work has not trembled. But my time has, and with that, my questioning of what I want to value my time with.

Do I want to travel to and spend time in meetings devoid of actual purpose? No. Do I want to sit and meet with faux friends, the ones who natter on about their everything, but fail to ask how you are? Hell no.

I want to sit in meetings that matter. Meetings that achieve things. Have coffee with people that allow for a two-way conversation. I want to work, and write, and continue to grow Onya Magazine, and O&S Publishing, and run camps for kids and be a goddamn firecracker, but I don’t want to waste any time.

So I’m reassessing. I’m cutting through the bullshit. I’m making sure I’m on track. Not missing any beats.

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I Am, I Do, I Know, I See

My Son

My son

I’m sitting up, in bed at hospital, looking at my husband sleeping to my left, and I’m smiling.

My husband’s arms are thrown upwards, escaping the sheets, wrapped around his head. He’s in a deep sleep and his handsome face is full of peace.

It’s the exact same image I was greeted with only half an hour earlier when I went to feed my son.

My son.

My beautiful, peaceful, joyful son.

Two days ago, our little man entered the world, and life changed. I’ve never loved anything so much, so quickly, with so much intensity. And, as each hour passes, I can’t believe how much further in love I fall. How much more my heart swells. How much stronger I grow. I’m in awe of him.

A friend sent me a text message tonight and wrote that despite my ability for writing, and my husband’s talent in music, our son was most certainly the best thing we’ve ever produced. And I can’t help but agree.

He’s the product of almost twelve years of love, laughter and friendship. Staring at him, I almost don’t believe he’s real. But then I see my husband’s expression across his face, and I know he is. I see my nephew in him, my brother, myself. And I realise that he’s more than real; he’s ours and we made him.

And I get lost for words. I lose myself in his face.

My son.

Our son.

The best thing we’ve ever produced.

I’m besotted.

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I’m back for 2013

Merricks Beach

Merricks Beach

After a huge 2012, I had a much-needed break over Christmas, New Year and the early weeks of January. It was relaxing. Refreshing. Magnificent weather combined with great company, mountains of good food and time to just be. Sit. Read. Watch movies. Nap. Discover. Chat. Explore. Giggle. Wander.

I didn’t open my laptop for about three weeks. I didn’t think about work. I didn’t plan much at all; the day’s planning was usually done over breakfast. And it was a divine way to holiday.

I’ve kicked off 2013 with renewed motivation, purpose and a clear, uncluttered mind. And how could I not, considering what I saw every day? Some of the most gorgeous parts of Victoria, laid bare, ready and waiting to cleanse and inspire.

Fishing off French Island

Fishing off French Island

Gunnamatta Surf Beach

Gunnamatta Surf Beach

Lake Nillahcootie

Lake Nillahcootie

Point Leo

Point Leo

Bonnie Doon

Bonnie Doon

Somers Beach

Somers Beach

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I Am, I Write

Pregnancy Is Not A Disease

First published in Onya Magazine on December 12th, 2012. 

You may know because I’ve told you, or because a little while ago I blurted it out across social media, but if you don’t, here’s my very special news: my husband and I are having a baby.

Finding out I was pregnant was an incredible moment; excitement, joy, anticipation, wonder and incredible happiness all rolled into an emotion so strong it made my stomach do back-flips and my eyes run with water for about half an hour.

My husband Kaz and I hadn’t been trying for very long. As in we started trying in mid-August and were four weeks pregnant in mid-September. Having heard of and read about so many couples who struggled for such a long time – or continue to struggle – we feel incredibly lucky and blessed for it to have happened so fast for us.

For the most part, my pregnancy (so far) has been wonderful. I had two weeks where I felt slightly nauseous – a kind of hung-over, dead-headed feeling that was only lulled by food or naps. I had some light bleeding, at around the 10 week mark, which was frightening and nerve-wracking, and despite the ‘threatened abortion’ diagnosis I received in the emergency ward, ended up being quite ‘normal’ – a large number of women will experience similar symptoms in early stages of pregnancy. I’ve discovered that having a Rhesus negative blood type means I need to have a few injections over the course of my pregnancy, to avoid any complications for future pregnancies.

Despite these small hiccups – hiccups that are incredibly mild compared to what some women go through – I have had quite a smooth run. I’m 17 weeks into my pregnancy – a few weeks shy from the half way mark – and I’m feeling good. Really good.

Waiting to cross the 12 week milestone felt like an eternity; now the weeks seem to be flying by.

I’m not anxious about any aspect of pregnancy; I haven’t had any freak-outs and I’m prepared to tackle whatever hurdles and challenges we’re faced with as and when they hit us. The thing with pregnancy is that there are no guarantees – at any point – and you have very little control over how or what you experience. I believe there’s no point in stressing or worrying over things that are out of your control, but let me tell you, if you’d like to stress, there’s probably no better time to than during pregnancy. Books, magazines, websites and people will tell you all of the things that can go wrong and all of the reasons why. If you allow it to, it can seriously overwhelm you.

I like being informed. I love reading, learning and knowing what’s happening to my body and baby each week. Name a pregnancy book and there’s a very good chance I’ve already read it.

But here’s a tip; don’t Google anything. Particularly if you’re concerned or worried about something. The Internet is full of advice and many an answer… from unqualified people. Just because someone has had a baby – or ten – does not mean they know what they are talking about. Every pregnancy is different and not all symptoms or issues are alike. My advice would be to speak to your obstetrician, GP, midwife, phone Nurse On Call, your health fund’s support service, a hospital or all of them at once; just don’t Google.

In saying that, there are a couple of reputable websites out there. Baby Center Australia and Essential Baby are two that I have found to be handy and well-balanced with solid advice. If you must Google, do so wisely.

My attitude towards my pregnancy is very much the same as my attitude to life; roll with the punches, enjoy the journey, be happy, be positive, make good choices and seize the day.

I’ve quickly realised that I don’t control my body anymore; it controls me. I need to feed and nourish it regularly and provide it with time to rest when it tells me it needs some.

I’m not stressed about my body changing. It will do what it needs to do. I’ve got a belly going and it’s kind of wonderful. I don’t fit into many of my clothes. Every day I notice a slight change and it’s all exciting and new. I might feel differently if I was experiencing ill health but fortunately I’m not, so my experience is lovely. I can do everything I did before I was pregnant, except bikram yoga, but I’ll be back there when I’m ready.

If I put on extra weight, it’ll just take me some extra time to lose it. I’m eating sensibly, like I always have, but I’m certainly eating more, because I’m hungry every few hours. I’m not obsessed with watching my calorie intake (how anyone can do this during pregnancy is beyond me) and I’m not on a strict exercise regime. I walk, I stretch, I have some days where I do more than others.

I’m not writing a birth plan, because I don’t really plan. I mean, I’ve never even written a business plan, or a list of goals. So my birth plan is this; have a healthy baby. I’m not ruling out or being gung-ho about anything. I’d like to have a natural birth but I’ll do whatever is required to deliver a healthy baby. I have no idea of my pain threshold, what kind of labour I might experience, or what complications might pop up along the way. Writing a birth plan seems like a jolly good waste of time to me. My obstetrician knows what I’d like to have happen, but also knows I won’t bite his – or any midwives – heads off if it doesn’t.

I’m being very picky and choosy with the advice I’m taking on board. Let’s be honest; all types of people can and do have children, but it doesn’t make them all intelligent, empathetic, loving people who think, feel and live in the same way you do. My sister-in-law is like my baby bible – after four kids and working in childcare, she really knows all the tips and tricks. I trust her and her advice. And yes, of course I have her on speed dial.

I’ll listen to anyone with regards to pregnancy and parenting and I’ll read a lot, but ultimately I’ll get through and stumble and survive and raise this baby in a way that’s in keeping with the values my husband and I have and the kind of people we are.

We love babies. And kids. When you’re pregnant, people love to tell you that your life will never be the same again. And some of them mean it in a way that implies you’ll never be yourself, or step out of the front door again. I’m not sure if some of these people are slightly intellectually challenged, or incredibly lazy or disorganised, but I’m tipping most people expecting a child know their lives will never be the same again.

And I don’t want my life to ever be the same again. I want my life to be multifaceted. I can’t wait to start a family with the man I love. I can’t wait to have a child to love, and raise, and teach, and enjoy life with.

I’m not romanticising parenting; I know it will be hard. Challenging. Tiring. I know there will be moments where I feel like tearing my hair out. Where I wonder how I’ll survive. Where I just want some beautiful, wonderful sleep.

But Kaz and I wouldn’t have decided to bring a child into the world if we weren’t prepared to have it disrupted, interrupted and turned upside down. We want that.

We don’t think children are annoying, we don’t believe having a child means you can never function as a human again, we don’t believe our own dreams have to be put on hold and we certainly don’t believe a baby will be the end of our living lives.

This is what I know to be true, more than anything else:

Pregnancy is not a disease. It’s not permanent. And I am not the first or last person to experience it.

I hope you will continue to join me as I share my experience – I’ll be honest, as always.

This is going to be fun.

Image credit: Kathryn Sprigg

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I Am, I Know

I’m (Not) Sorry If My Hair Offends You

I’m on the left. If my hair offends you, I’M GLAD.

It’s not unusual for me to get enraged watching the news or reading the newspaper. There’s just so much stupidity in this world, it’s hard not to.

And so, just this afternoon, I stumbled upon an article (if you can call it that), in Melbourne’s The Age.

Curls: shabby or sexy? (Yep, the big issues).

Here are a few pearlers from the piece:

“Curly hair is, by its very nature, unpredictable and untamed, which business specialists insist reflects poorly on the professional, however well dressed.”

“Casual is not an image pursued by corporate headhunter Rose Filippone, who spends “quite a lot of money” having her head of ringlets polished and smoothed. “I have never seen a corporate man – a CEO, a director, a financial controller – with curly hair.”

“Filippone says curly hair looks unkempt. “The person may not be, but would you walk out of the house looking like that? Not if you’re in a suit. We’re not DJing. Let’s remember where we are. It’s not allowed. It’s the unspoken rule. Men do it quite well.”

And this, from HR executive Louise Adamson: “It’s part of the corporate image. Curly hair is always going to look slightly messy unless you’ve got a hairdresser walking behind you with a comb.”

I just don’t know where to start without being incredibly offensive or swearing my mouth off.

I understand that this article may grate at my core more than that of others – it’s no secret I have curly hair – but it’s also terrible, lazy, bullshit journalism.

I love the occasional lifestyle piece in my newspaper. In fact, the only reason I even buy the newspaper anymore is for the lifestyle lift-outs on weekends, but I’m not sure utter trash like this qualifies as lifestyle.

It’s pure and total crap, complete anti-curl propaganda.

The reality is, curly hair is beautiful. I’ve never been ashamed of my curly hair. Nor, I should point out, has my curly hair restricted me from advancing in my career. Just this afternoon on Twitter someone told me that their Senior Manager in Banking is a woman with curly hair – that’s also dyed pink. I’d love corporate headhunter Rose Filippone to cop a look at her.

“Articles” like this just perpetuate the myth that every person with curly hair is a free-spirited hippie, and people with poker straight hair are stone-faced, heartless monsters.

What I’d like to say to “journalist” Natasha Hughes, Rose Filippone and Louise Adamson is this; IT’S FUCKING HAIR. Most of the population has it. And it can’t all be the same. There’s different lengths, and thicknesses, and colours, and styles, and textures. IT DOESN’T DEFINE US. OR THE WORK WE DO.

We were born with it and to suggest that the follicles on our scalp outline the rung we can take on the career ladder is a FUCKING JOKE.

It’s ignorant, biased and completely stupid. And so are the people who believe it, or are martyrs to their straighteners living in fear of it.

Guess what? I have a hairy dog, too. SUCK ON THAT.

I’ve only ever been told how lovely my hair is, not unprofessional or untamed. Adamson’s suggestion that my hair is “always going to look slightly messy” has actually made me develop a slight twitch.

Curly hair might not be easy to manage for those with very little idea, but for those with some smarts, it’s a simple matter of finding the right technique and product. I spend very, very little time on my hair. It gets washed and styled. Not combed or straightened. And it always looks good.

Perhaps Adamson should spend less time on her own head of hair, and more time partaking in intellectual activities. And as for Filippone, maybe she should invest more of her money in learning how to accept and love what she’s got, than trying to be something she’s not. And Rose, love, I walk out of the house every day with my curly hair. And I’m no DJ.

I’m quite happy to fly the flag for the curly-haired folk of the world – maybe if more people were less ashamed, these kinds of articles wouldn’t get published.

And maybe The Age needs to start seriously thinking about their relevance and outdated business-model in an ever-evolving world and addressing issues like their dwindling readership and general public apathy amongst Melbourne readers, before hitting the publish button on articles that are further tarnishing their masthead.

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I Am, I Do

This Sort Of Thing Has Never Happened To Me Before

A couple of weeks ago, I completely forgot my PIN.

Well, I thought I had it right, except when I entered it the ATM read back ‘Incorrect PIN. Please try again.’

So I did.

And it was incorrect for a second time.

At which point I decided not to go for a lucky third, out of fear the machine would swallow my card.

Instead, I hit cancel, then wandered around in a daze trying to remember what the damn number was and why oh why couldn’t I remember it?

‘This sort of thing has never happened to me before,’ I muttered.

Earlier this week, walking back from a meeting, I couldn’t resist the SALE sign out the front of Country Road and decided that yes, another knit dress was exactly what I needed because gosh darn it they’re so comfy and warm and stylish and I better get another one before they stop making them forever.

So I tried on four but settled for one and bought it and skipped out of the shop with the bag swinging and swaying off my arm.

Then I walked past Myer and couldn’t resist the SALE sign at the Cue section and decided that yes, another top/shirt/pinafore/jacket was exactly what I needed because gosh darn it they’re all so comfy and warm and stylish and practical and Australian made and I better get them all because I love supporting our industry and I need to be warm and they might stop making them forever so quick, swipe the debit card, swipe it.

So I skipped out of Myer with the bag swinging and swaying off my arm.

Then I got home and wondered why I only had one bag swinging and swaying off my arm when I should have had two.

Then I walked around in a daze trying to remember where I last was when I held the Country Road bag, trying to retrace the steps in my head.

As I suspected, I had left the Country Road bag containing my lovely and necessary knit dress in the Myer fitting room and after phoning the Cue counter (and bemoaning how long it takes anyone to answer a phone in a department store) it was thankfully still there. So I breathed a sigh of relief because whilst I love paying for knit dresses, I only love them when they end up hanging in my wardrobe and not when they’re left as a gift for the lucky person who ends up in fitting room seven and believes it’s part of Myer’s new customer service strategy to provide free knit dresses to anyone trying on their clothing.

‘I’ve never lost a shopping bag anywhere, not ever, this has never happened to me before,’ I muttered, several times to no one in particular, then several times again the next day to the lovely girl at Cue when I picked up my knit dress and gaffa taped the Country Road bag to my hand.

This morning, I put the kettle on (or, at least, I was sure I had) and poured a cup of green tea only to discover the water was cold and I hadn’t flicked the little lever on the kettle, the one that actually makes it boil.

‘This sort of thing has never happened to me before,’ I muttered to the dog. ‘I don’t know who I’m becoming.’

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I Am

Living The Width Of Life, Not Just The Length Of It

The past few months have been a bit of a blur.

They’ve gone so fast, it almost feels as though only a week or two have passed, but in the very same breath, looking back over them seems like an eternity.

They’ve been filled with wonderful moments, challenging moments, laughs, successes, disappointments and moments of hair-pulling frustration.

They’ve been busy. Jam-packed. Running from appointment to meeting to event and from thought to idea to phone call. Running a business, or two or three, and a household, and experiencing all the beautiful intricacies of every day life.

And I’m a little bit over it.

Not any of the actual things I’ve been doing, but the way I go about doing them.

I’m over rushing. Constantly having to switch my brain from task to task. And I’m over the same old, the exact same thing repackaged as new and interesting.

This morning, I sat back and looked at a list I made about what I wanted for/from 2012 and I realised that one of the things on there is the very reason my life has been manic:

Take advantage of every good offer that comes my way.

I’ve decided to take that back. I’m erasing it from my list.

This pursuit, this chase, this fear of losing an opportunity or missing out on something; it’s not for me.

I get a lot of good offers, for lots of good things – but 89.7% of them do not fulfill me in the way a meaningful conversation does, or producing some really good work does.

And, truth be told, the best offers are those that come from meaningful conversations and producing really good work.

I don’t intend to come across as spoilt or immodest here, but every single brilliant opportunity I’ve ever had in my life – from personal to career – have either come directly to me, without a chase, or have come in moments of being totally content and relaxed.

I’ll still accept good offers – but I’m going to be far more picky and choosy about them.

I don’t want my diary to be so full; in fact, I want to see blank boxes, just begging for something spontaneous or self-indulgent to fill them. Maybe, even, more time to do the things I love; reading, writing and taking photographs, like I had planned at the start of this year.

This morning I decided that from now on I’m going to be very picky. Fortunately, I can be. I love what I do so much, that I find it difficult not doing it. Instead of chasing things that I’m only semi-interested in, I’m going to suffocate myself with those I’m madly in love with.

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I Am, I Know

Be Afraid – But Do It Anyway

Last week, I was being interviewed by a lovely and clever University student, and we got chatting about fear.

And it got me thinking about a common misconception bandied about confident people – it’s assumed they don’t feel fear.

I don’t think that’s true.

Everyone is afraid, at some point or about some thing. Everyone gets scared. Everyone gets nervous. Anxious. Worried. Stressed.

It’s how we react to that fear that matters. It’s how we push through it that’s important.

When I’m afraid of something – big or small – I run to it.

I refuse to let fear hold me back from doing anything in life.

I know that if you let fear control you, then it will. It will grip you. Choke you. And consume you.

The best days of my life have been the ones where I’ve been the most scared. The best results I’ve ever gotten, the best I’ve ever achieved, have come from moments when my stomach has been tied in knots.

Fear is terrifying.

It can literally stop you in your tracks.

It’s also a great motivator. And face fear once, and you’ll be likely to face it again.

I’ve felt fear. It’s nearly made my knees buckle under the weight of it. Quite literally, one time.

But it’s also challenged me. Pushed me further than I thought I could go.

And it’s because I felt it. Sat with it. Heard it. And then used it. Against itself.

I get scared. I feel the fear. And then I do whatever is so scary and frightening anyway.

The richest moments of your life might just be clouded in fear.

Embrace it.

Discover them.

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I Am, I Write

The Most Incredible Man I’ve Ever Met…

First published in Onya Magazine, on January 27th, 2012. 

A couple of years ago, I interviewed an incredible man – Siegmund Siegreich. Siegmund, or Sigi, was a Holocaust survivor. He was 15 years old when Germany invaded Poland – 15 when he was placed into a concentration camp. The next six years of his life were spent enduring endless humiliation, beatings, starvation, serous illness, not to mention seeing family members and friends killed, shot, and left for dead right in front of him. When I sat to talk with him, at 88 years of age, the pain of his ordeal – one that he managed to survive – was evident every time he spoke about it. He, along with his wife and two daughters, cried their way through the interview.

It was one of the hardest but most incredibly special moments of my life. Made more so by the fact that Sigi was probably the biggest gentleman I’ve ever met – he was so kind, graceful and intelligent. He was humble and proud and strong.

His book, The Thirty Six, written almost six decades after his time in war-torn Poland, changed my life. I read it almost entirely in one sitting. I cried, nearly threw up, felt rage, felt sadness and felt love. I often think of what I learnt from that book, and I often think of Sigi, and his gorgeous face, and the love he had for his family.

I thought of Sigi today. As a man who lived through every horror imaginable, I wondered what he’d think of the protests in Canberra yesterday, and the burning of our flag. I wonder what he’d think of so much hate being spouted – from protestors and commentators alike.

Sigi was a man, who was only a boy, when he saw his father die. And his mother. And uncles. And aunts. And cousins. And neighbours. He was a boy who had to sleep through the bitter cold, in a lavatory shed, in his own faeces, where the stench of urine penetrated his every pore. I won’t even go into the torture he was subjected to. To type it would make me sick. Of the Holocaust, he said, “People may think the world knows enough about it, but to understand the enormity of it all would shake humanity to the end of time.”

When I asked Sigi if he hated the Germans for what they did to him and his family, he replied and said, “No, I do not. You cannot hate an entire race of people, for the mistakes only a handful of people within that race have made…

“I have seen the devil in men, I have seen my family members shot, I have seen them smile, wave and walk off, never to return, I have been starving, frightened, frozen, petrified…but I have seen the beauty in people. I have felt love and I know there is good in the world…

“Hate is a waste. We just must never forget what has happened, so as to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

In 1971, Sigi migrated to Melbourne, with his wife and both daughters, sponsored and backed by a friend of his.

“We finally set down roots in a truly free and democratic country, where our family has prospered and multiplied.”

Now, I’ve got no doubt the Aboriginal community are in need of more assistance – more help, support and education.

And we’ve somehow wound up in a place where no one can offer a suggestion or a thought without being branded as a racist, or radical.

I’m not a racist. I’m not radical. I believe in equality, and fairness, and in doing what’s right.

Taking land off the Aborigines was not right. Stealing Aboriginal children was not right. There are so many things about our Australian history that are not right – I spent an entire year in Year 12 studying everything about Australia, and in many cases shaking my head.

But I also know that the actions taken by a minority in Canberra yesterday were not right. Nor was the action of burning the Australian flag. I am reminded of words I heard from Sigi, “You cannot hate an entire race of people, for the mistakes only a handful of people within that race have made…”

And I think how true that is.

I am sorry for what happened to every Aboriginal when white colonial men settled this country.

I am also sorry for Sigi, and everything he endured, and did for decades and decades afterwards. I am sorry for what his children endured, and continue to. And what his grandchildren endure, and will continue to.

I am also sorry for my parents, who migrated to Australia at such a young age and had to endure years and years of racism, bullying, misconceptions and harassment – all because of the sound of their surname and the contents of their lunch box.

My parents never gave up. They never gave in. They made something of their lives. They gave me and my brother and sister a life, and a very good one. They taught us to be equal and fair and to do what’s right.

Sigi never gave up. When every single thing in his life went against him, when everyone he loved was taken away from him, when he was buried face down in a dirt pit, hiding under the body of a dead Jew to avoid being shot himself, he did not give up. When he was made to dig his own grave, he did not give up. He fought and gripped onto life because he knew that life was worth living.

Australia – the country and its people – never offered any sympathy, or compensation, or assistance to my parents. They didn’t do so for Sigi and his family, either. And I’m not drawing comparisons between racism in a Richmond primary school and the Holocaust, I’m drawing a point; that maybe, perhaps, it’s time someIndigenous people got up, stood tall and proud and made a life for themselves. A life in a country that can offer them so much, a life in a truly free and democratic country.

I imagine that doing so will be difficult. Painful. Frightening. But there are many people who have done it before, including people from their own race. And I’m not suggesting some Indigenous people forget, or leave behind, or move on from the past; I’m suggesting they use it to spur them on to do great things and build the life they so very much deserve.

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