Australians all let us rejoice..

Many Australians read this blog and I’d love for them to come over and comment on this post and give me their insights or perhaps make a post of their own. Does anyone else feel like they don’t belong here in this country, or is it just me? The Hump Day Hmmm topic this week is – Race, Society and the Internet. We Aussies have a unique view on this topic, I think.

Australia is a multi cultural land. I have been raised to appreciate and respect other cultures, traditions, beliefs – and I do. We have people from many lands who have come here. The Australian Census in 2006 lists over 30 different countries of birth for the current residents of this country – and one of those categories was “other”, so the real truth is difficult to know.

If you ask an Australian what does multi-cultural mean, they will generally mention food. Yes we have many different foods here in this country but it is about so much more. Language. Religion. Beliefs. Genetics. Art. All of that plus a lot more – right down to how the homes smell and whether you take your shoes off at the door or not.

Where I grew up was a fairly typical Australian neighbourhood. Across the road lived people from Sweden. They spoke Swedish and taught me some Swedish. They had a REAL pine Christmas tree. They had exotic names. Next door to them were people from Poland. They were stand offish. They decorated their Easter Eggs in the traditional Polish Pisanka style. Next door to them were people from Italy. Oh, the food. They took me to Midnight Mass and I adored it.

At primary (grade) school, my first best friend was Ellen. She was Chinese and just as much of an outcast at school as I was, which was why we got along so well. We both had a crush on Iva Davies from Icehouse. In year 7 there was a school camp, and Ellen was the only person whose parents would not allow her to go. In solidarity, I refused to go, and the two of us stayed behind, the only two out of almost 100 students. Her parents had a Chinese restaurant and we would go there after school, folding napkins, eating chicken and sweet corn soup, spring rolls and prawn crackers and drinking Coke. I still find it hard to drink anything else with Chinese food. The two are forever associated for me.


Iva Davies, as he was back then. Noice!

My second best friend was Leila. She was from Iraq. Her home smelt mystical. I cannot describe it other than to say incense sticks and spicy food. She had arrived in Australia very recently and there was a lot of fear and concern for family and friends left behind. She had the most beautiful exotic clothes and gorgeous dark curly hair and this accent which seemed to be to be sent from Heaven. I wanted to talk like her.

My third best friend was Rachel. She lived three doors up. Her parents were second generation Australian, from English stock. Her mother had this major thing about naphthalene flakes and moths. She would sprinkle naphthalene flakes on the floor and vacuum them. The smell was impregnated into Rachel’s clothes and some of the kids teased her about it. Me personally I liked the smell from a distance but going into the house was difficult, you almost needed a gas mask to survive it.

We were the four – inseparable. We came as a package. When primary school ended, none of my three best friends went to my high school. I arrived there and I was the outcast. I was not stick thin. There were 500+ people in my year level. The only people who would accept me into their group were the “nerds”. Mostly I retreated within myself because people were so rude and nasty to me. I began to hate school and look forward to the weekends when I could see my old friends from primary school. By the end of that year the four became people I saw less and less often. They’d got involved with their own school lives – but where did that leave me?

I ended up going to church to seek out people I could be friends with. There I met my new best friend who was my best friend for all of high school and quite a few years after. She was second generation Australian, her parents were from the Isle of Man in the UK. She went to a different school than me, but she was an outcast there – she was also overweight like me and she was a diabetic. She spent a lot of time in the hospital which was near to me, and I spent a lot of time there with her. I’d walk to the hospital after school and stay there until my parents picked me up about 9pm.

Around this time next door to us on the right side a new neighbour moved in from Malaysia. He was a later addition to the neighbourhood, arriving in the late 80’s. He was not too much older than me and his parents had sent him and his brother out here to go to school. I had a major crush on him but I never said a word, feeling he would be terrified by it. Instead we became very close friends. He would go back to Malaysia for several weeks over Christmas and his absence was like a gaping hole. You took your shoes off at the door. Often Leonard would find large huntsmen spiders in his shoes and say maybe this custom was not a good idea in Australia.

The majority of the population here are not “native” Australians. I was born and raised here and no matter how much I might want to be, I will never be considered a “native” Australian, just like many Americans will never be considered “native” Americans – though I don’t think Americans feel it in the same way I do (do ya’all?). I do not have any Aboriginal blood running through my veins. Many Australians would consider that to be a good thing – I personally wish there was, for many reasons. First and foremost is I want to be considered a “native” Australian. I was born here. This is my country. To be told I am not native to my own country is honestly one of the most irritating feelings.. it seems petty and pedantic but it really stings and this annoys me more the older I get.

I don’t actually know very much about my ancestors or how they got here but I do know there’s Scottish blood on my Mother’s side and English blood on my Father’s side. Maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to men in kilts. :) I have never seen Braveheart and I don’t understand much about Scottish traditions. I am hugely attracted to Aboriginal Art. Something about it speaks loudly to me. When I first started doing art I kept seeing dot paintings in my head.

I’m no master in Australian History or anything, but over 200 years ago the English used to send their convicts here. People who stole a loaf of bread would be shipped out to Australia as a punishment. Whoever thought up that idea had obviously never been here. The place has amazing natural beauty. Aborigines have been treated very badly in this country since about the time the convict settlers arrived. There is a lot of anger on both sides – everyone is angry, actually. It’s not my intention to go back over the history and explain why people are angry and to be honest what is in the past should be able to stay in the past. Let’s live in the now, not the past. Right?

Of course things never work that way. The major issue is, somebody introduced the Aborigines to alcohol, drugs, and petrol sniffing. Some people tried to do good things and built houses for the Aborigines to live in, perhaps they thought it would help to make them “civilised”. They were quite offended when many of the Aborigines pulled out the floor and took off the roof – they need to feel the dirt under their feet and see the stars above their heads. Oh, and some people stole a bunch of their children, claiming those kids weren’t being looked after. In fact an entire generation of Aboriginal children were stolen out of their homes. The Other Half’s own Mother was one of this stolen generation. She wasn’t wearing shoes in her backyard. That is why she and her brother were taken away.

Aha – did you pick up on that? The Other Half has Aboriginal blood in his ancestry. Oh, he’s pretty white. You can’t tell by his skin color. We believe he has two generations of white blood, though nobody can be sure, that whole stolen generation thing gets in the way of the family tree, and his Mother did not truly embrace being Aboriginal because of being stolen. It was something mentioned in a whisper. He does have a lot of the typical Aboriginal genetic traits – a thick skull, a wider, flatter, sort of squished onto his face nose, curly dark hair. To me The Other Half looks a little bit like Guy Sebastian, except without the groomed eyebrows.


Guy Sebastian from Australian Idol.

Guy is a fairly unusual Australian Idol – he was not born here. Guy Sebastian was born in Klang, Malaysia to a Sri Lankan and Malaysian father, and a mother of Portuguese and English descent who had been raised in India.

If you were to look at The Other Half chances are you would guess he is from the middle east – since September 11, he cannot get through security at the airport without being vacuumed to see if he is carrying explosives. People are always surprised when *I* tell them he is Aboriginal and their initial reaction is “I thought he was from (middle east country). He does not tell people. He doesn’t mind me telling them, but to him it’s not important. It is also not a part of him because he was not raised in that culture.

To me, who values the fact that he can call himself a “native” Australian, this is pure blasphemy. On one hand I can see why – some people have a stereotypical view of Aborigines – that they are drunk homeless people. It’s not true for the majority of Aborigines, but it *is* true for a small group of them. Of course that small group are the more noticeable ones when you’re walking through the park they are drinking in. If I had the smallest amount of Aboriginal blood in me, I would rejoice and embrace the culture with open arms, because at least then I would feel like I belong here.

Because they were treated so badly in the past, like America there is now the politically correct non discrimination thing going on. Some jobs are advertised with “Must be of Aboriginal descent”. The Other Half would never apply for one of those kinds of jobs, because he does not think it is fair to anyone. He does not want to be someone’s “token” Aboriginal. There’s also a large range of free services he would have access to if he chose to identify himself as being of Aboriginal descent. He won’t do it. He says it is because he has no proof that he is Aboriginal other than what his mother has told him, and what are they going to want, DNA samples? I say the same thing about those jobs where people have to be of Aboriginal descent – do you have to take along some proof?

I sit here in a land of many cultures, and I feel completely lost. I don’t have my own culture. I mentioned before when I was growing up in primary school my best friend Ellen was Chinese. That had such enormous meaning to me. She had a language of her own, her parents ran a Chinese restaurant, when you went to her house it was filled with traditional items from her parents homeland. My house seemed empty in comparison – full of love, but no cultural history. If you asked Ellen – what is your culture – I am sure she would have a list of things as long as her arm. If you ask me – what is my culture? I don’t feel like I have one. I don’t belong here. I am here, but I don’t BELONG.

To counteract this feeling of not belonging I have begun to carve out my own culture. I take pieces from other cultures that I like, and I adopt them as my own. I have a real pine Christmas tree. I cook Italian comfort food when I feel unhappy. I eat Chinese once a week and when I feel sick I cook chicken and sweet corn soup. I love Feng Shui, aromatherapy, incense sticks, Geisha dolls, midnight mass, the Norwegian language because it speaks to me on a level I don’t even understand, beaches and Aboriginal art.

None of these small, stolen traditions will ever fill that hole I feel. It will never make me belong the way I see people from minorities belong. I don’t have my own language – and when I do type the language I know, Australian English, I am accused of not knowing how to spell. Not just by people reading my own blog but by my OWN WEB BROWSER!!! Here we use ou – favourite, colour, etc. Words that I was taught to spell in school show up with a red line under them in Firefox.

Australians, I believe our biggest challenge is still to come. We now face a new religion arriving on our shores. It’s been here for a while but now it is beginning to make its presence known. I have never been more uncomfortable. I do not like some aspects of this religion at all, in particular the Hijab and Halal. Cugat once said something very intelligent to me about Halal and I hope he repeats it in the comments – about the origins of it.

I find myself offended by what seems to me to be a religion where women are considered lesser creatures. Of course I could be wrong but that is how it looks on the face of it. I believe I may be beginning to develop a prejudice against this religion and this means I am going to have to learn more about it.

Despite the same Qur’anic obligations being issued for men and women, rules regarding dress developed so that men were to cover from their navels to their knees, whereas a women were to cover all their bodies except what was essential, that is, the hands and face.

What offends me the most is Halal. The one thing I do consider truly Australian is the Aussie Hamburger – we put everything on there we can think of. Beetroot, egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pineapple, avocado. Now some places you can no longer get bacon because they are Halal. I wrote this post – Hang on a minute – on that topic back in November and also – Another non-religious post – as yet my views on that have not changed. I need to remember to look deeply to find the similarities between myself and people who follow this religion or else there’s a chance I might not accept them. That’s difficult when you feel offended as a woman by such a religion – how can I reconcile the woman I am to the women who follow something which seems to be oppressive to women?

Hump Day Hmmm, internet, life lessons, Muslim, religion, women

Thoughts On Making Positive Changes – Can You Do It?

Over the last month I have made one big positive change in my life, and I have a few thoughts on the process of making change which might be useful to you. Have you ever heard of the conscious competence learning matrix? Basically it is 4 stages which you have to go through in order to learn a new skill. The four stages are –

Unconscious Incompetence

You don’t know anything about this new skill – You may know others have this skill but you may think it won’t work for you, you may think you don’t you need it, you may think you’re not capable of learning it it – you need someone to point out how this skill can benefit you before you are willing to consider learning the new skill

Conscious Incompetence

You are now aware of this skill – You are aware that you do not yet posess this skill – You realise that this skill can be useful to you – you make a commitment to learn how to perform this new skill.

Conscious Competence

You are now able to perform this skill without assistance from others but it requires concentration and thought – You are able to demonstrate this skill to others – You now have to commit to practising this skill over and over in order to become unconsciously competent in this skill.

Unconscious Competence.

You have practised this skill so often it enters the unconscious – This skill is now second nature to you – You can now perform this skill while thinking about something else and without concentration – You can now teach this skill to others – Over time you may become less able to teach this skill because you will find it difficult to explain how to do it.

The Four Stages –

Think it’s a load of psychobabble?

Think again. Can you drive a car? Sew? Knit? Type? Paint? Draw? Play a musical instrument? Ride a bike? You have been performing the four stages of learning all your life. You may not have known the name of it until reading this post, but if you take a moment to consider you’ll agree the four stages is exactly how you have been learning to do things.

The exact same process happens when you want to make a positive change in your life. You decide that you want to – lose weight, drink more water, be more positive, get organised, exercise more, play the piano, change a habit, learn any new skill, it could be anything. You think making this change will benefit you. So you make a commitment to change.

The most difficult part is the “practice” – the actual making the change. Unless you *make* yourself practice you will never make the change. Here’s some tips to make it a little easier for you.

This Is Also Known As –

Setting a goal. Sort of. Sometimes a goal requires a lot more work across a lot of different areas, so for the purpose of this post I’m talking more about forming good habits, routines and making *one* positive change at a time.

Pick One Change And Go With It –

Choose the most urgent thing you want to change and focus on changing that. Do not sabotage yourself by trying to change several things at once. You’ll do a lot better if you focus on one at a time. (I made this mistake – on top of the water change I wanted to get more organised. One had to give way – so now I will focus on the organise change I need to make)

Embrace The Need For Change –

You’ve got to want it bad! You have to be passionate about it, long for it, LUST after it! If you don’t want this change, you will find ways to undermine your own efforts. It is sometimes a good idea to write the benefits of making the change down and putting it somewhere you’ll see it often, to remind yourself why you want to make this effort.

Make Success Simple –

If the change is drinking water, carry a bottle with you. If the change is get organised, take time to put systems in place that you can follow. If it’s exercise more, hire a treadmill or exercise bike, whatever floats your boat. Identify how you can make this change easy and simple and then do that first, before you try to begin making the change.

Watch Out For Thwarters –

Friends, family, loved ones can be your worst enemy when it comes to making a change. They like you the way you are. They may not want you to change. They may fear you will leave them behind, not need them anymore. If they can’t get on board, they need to get out of your way – and you may need to push them out of your path.

If you explain to them you want to make this change, you need to make it, and you’re going to make it so you would appreciate their support, and they do not wish to give you the support you’re asking for? That’s a bad sign right there.

I’m not saying cut them out of your life completely, but perhaps it is a good idea to take some time out for yourself to focus on the change you’re making. Do not let anyone hold you back. Don’t let anyone argue with you about it either. You may find it best to – close your ears – smile – nod – ignore – when they try to talk you out of it – and some people will regardless of how much they claim to care for you and want the best for you. Be prepared. Don’t be surprised when it happens.

Look For Supporters –

If you can find people who want to make the same change or even a different positive change from the one you want to make you can support each other. There is nothing like surrounding yourself with people in the progress of positive change. There may be a support group for what you’re looking to do – if not in real life, on the internet. Be wary though, sometimes support can = thwart!

When You Want To Quit –

Keep going. Usually during the first or second week, you’ll have some second thoughts. You’ll think about giving up. You want to quit. Push through it. Don’t allow yourself to give up on your change. You decided to make the change for good reasons and whatever inconveniences you may be experiencing will seem like nothing in a couple of weeks once you get to the unconscious competent stage.

Chart Your Progress –

If the change is something like drink more water, make a simple chart where you can tick off each cup you drink. If it is exercise more, make a chart where you can tick off every half hour of exercise. Whatever your change, try to find a way you can tick boxes for yourself – and always use a tick (positive), never a cross (negative)!

Remind Yourself –

I once had to change my name. I was working in a call centre, and when you answer the phone if you have a longer name there is a better chance the person listening will catch your name if it has more syllables. EG – “This is Ben” will tend to get people saying “Who is it?” whereas”This is Benjamin” you get a lot less “Sorry, I didn’t catch that” which cuts down on your call time. So I wrote my full 3 syllable name on post it notes and stuck it all over my desk. Anywhere I would be looking when I answered a call merited a post it note.

A skill you quickly pick up in a call centre is the ability to listen to what is going on around you as well as on the phone. I heard people discuss my “lack of memory” “That poor girl can’t even remember her own name!” “Doesn’t she know who she is?” – it got so annoying to me that I sent out an email explaining why I had my name all over my desk. Guess what happened next? All kinds of post it notes began to appear all over the office.. I started a trend!

So, write yourself little notes about the change you’re making. Put them in every room you spend time in, where you’re going to see them. On the fridge, on the TV, on the back of the toilet door, on your bathroom mirror, on your bedside cabinet, on your computer monitor.

Reward Yourself.

If you practice, there will come a day when you do this thing without even thinking about it. That day came for me a few days ago, when I noticed I had gone through a 1.5 litre bottle of water during my day without once *thinking* about it. It will happen if you have practiced, so make a plan of how you are going to reward yourself for the hard work you’ve put in.

When The Day Comes –

Celebrate it, you did it! :) Then pick the next thing you want to work on and get started. You’re on a roll, so keep it going. ;)

Don’t Stop Now –

If your choice was to lose weight – most people who made the choice to lose weight put it back on eventually – that is because they get *out* of the good habits they made in their life. When you make a decision to lose weight that is a *lifestyle* change and you have to be committed to it for LIFE. As soon as you stop practicing the good habits you will find the weight creeping back on.

If You Do Stop –

Just as you can get back on the bike and remember how to ride it without having to learn from scratch, you can do the same with any of these changes you committed to making. So simply get back on the bike and start pedaling towards your original goal again.

What Change Did I Make?

In case you didn’t know, I challenged myself after reading this article 9 Great Reasons to Drink Water, and How to Form the Water Habit to begin drinking more water. I used to drink Coca Cola – one can a day – and fruit juice or coffee. I wasn’t getting enough liquids and water retention was a huge issue for me.

Week One –

Visits to the bathroom were more frequent than usual in this week. I was expecting this – the article had mentioned it. It wasn’t too bad but there was one day I felt like quitting the whole thing because I was back and forth too often. Push through that urge to quit. Just keep going!

Two Weeks Into Making This Change –

I noticed a big difference with respect to water retention. The backs of my hands went all wrinkly. The puffiness went away. My body could now rely on me to get enough water during the day and it wasn’t holding to any nugget of water it could get just in case it didn’t get more. Visits to the bathroom were now less frequent than *originally* – I was so glad I didn’t quit!

Sometime In The Third Week –

The unconscious competence kicked in. I was keeping a bottle of water on my desk and suddenly I did not have to remind myself to pour a glass and drink it – and I’d filled in a whole day’s worth of ticks to my chart without once noticing I was doing it. I got some scales at the start of the third week because I thought I’d been losing weight and found I was 10kg lighter than the last time I weighed myself, but that had been over a year ago so I couldn’t be sure it was due to the water. Clothes that fit well three weeks before were suddenly a bit roomy, so I think at least some of the loss was due to it.

I have been so busy drinking water that some mornings I found I wasn’t having my coffee until lunch time – which gave me headaches. This week I focused on making sure I have that morning coffee in the morning. Yes, I am a caffeine addict but during this challenge I’ve cut back to 2 cups a day rather than my usual 4 cups. Wow, what a difference!

Four Weeks Into Making This Change –

I’ve lost 3kg (6.6 pounds) over the course of one week, without making any changes to eating or exercise – in fact I’ve been eating 2 pieces of Lindt chocolate each day, something I normally do not do! Now I’m reasonably confident a large part of the weight loss was due to the water drinking. I can see a noticeable change in the mirror. I’ve been working on getting the hands less wrinkly but it will take time for the skin to shrink back after losing the puffiness.

Was It Worth It?

Absolutely. I am feeling a lot better for it. Now I’m all about the next change, which is getting more organised. Over the next week I’ll be putting systems in place to help me do that. I wanted to do it at the same time as the water change but I found two changes at once was too much for me.

Did you find this article helpful?

Let me know in the comments section. :) Let me know if it inspires you to make your own change, too! ;)

how to guides, life lessons, moving forward, power of positive thought

The Spider Intuition – what I carry with me.

The most important thing I carry with me –

One day years ago as I was driving to work, I suddenly had this thought. “There’s a spider in this car”. Ok, yep, sure, whatever. I laughed it off. “There’s a spider in this car.” said the thought, again. Patiently, but somewhat more urgent. I began to wonder if perhaps I was going crazy. “There’s a spider in this car”. Well, my gearstick is a large redback set into resin, so yes, you’re right. There is a spider in this car. “There is a spider in this car”. I thought we just established that?

It was then that I spotted movement above my head, and looked up to see this enormous huntsman spider at least as big as my hand run across the top of windshield directly above me. On the inside. I pulled over to the side of the road as fast as I could and jumped out of the car, screaming and shouting. As you do, if you’re like me with a spider fear.

In the midst of my crazy scared chills down my spine dance by the side of the road, I became aware that I was not quite alone. I saw a pair of feet appear out of the corner of my eye. When I looked up, I saw a policeman was standing next to me. He had a very large grin, and his hand on his weapon resting in the holster on his belt. “Do I need to shoot it?” he said. “It looked pretty big from where I was sitting. Well done on the pull over, by the way, I was worried you were going to slam your foot on the brake in the middle of the road”.

It turned out he did not need to shoot it, but he did attack it with a half empty coca-cola bottle that a friend of mine left in the back seat. By that time his partner had got out of the car too, and he and I were doubled over laughing as this spider ran all over the car avoiding the blows from the coke bottle while the original policeman read the spider his “rights” (you have the right to remain still while I squash you) in between telling us to stop laughing or he would make us kill it and he was laughing so much it was making it hard to outwit the spider.. meanwhile this spider was doing some crazy maneuvers in order to avoid death.

The policemen had seen it sitting above my head some kilometers back, and had been debating whether or not they should pull me over. That may give you some idea of the size of the creature. If not, I have a photo of a similar spider you could look at but I won’t publish it here knowing how scary many people find spiders. Email me, I’ll send you the link. The policeman eventually managed to kill it and I thanked them many times for their help and sense of humor before going on my way.

So, as the day went on, I tried to figure out – how had that little voice known? The spider was sitting above my head. I never saw it, the whole time I was in the car. It was not until I was driving home and I saw the sun glinting on a spider web trail that I understood – my brain had seen that web, and knew a spider must not be far off.

While you’re concentrating on the big picture, your subconscious is taking in many things in order to show you that big picture. My subconscious knew that web had not been there yesterday. My subconscious knows a million little things which it then adds up and if there’s something I’m missing, it chooses to communicate that to me. Yours does, too. This process is lightning fast and we’re not aware of it happening. We use it every day to survive without truly knowing that is what it is.

A book I read some time later expanded greatly on this concept. The book is by Gavin De Becker and it is called The Gift Of Fear. I highly recommend you grab a copy of this book because it will teach you how to listen to your intuition, not just in dangerous situations but in all situations. There’s also a lot of other good info in the book which will calm your spirit and teach you survival signals you can use, and how the media make us fear things we should not fear. He also has written a book that I believe is absolutely vital if you are a parent – Protecting The Gift.

“Intuition is the journey from A to Z without stopping at any other letter along the way. It is knowing without knowing why.” Quote from The Gift Of Fear

My intuition is the most important thing I carry with me. I take it everywhere I go.

The second most important thing I carry with me –

is the ability to be my own best friend. I don’t need to travel with an entourage. I don’t need the constant validation of others to validate myself. I like me. I think others would like me, if I gave them a chance to get close enough to know me. I rarely do that in real life. But even if they did not like me, it would not bother me. There’s a lot of people I don’t like, there’s no law saying everyone must be liked. You guys here probably are the ones who know me best, other than The Other Half and Sephy. I don’t think my parents know me as well as ya’all do.

The third most important thing I carry with me –

I can amuse myself, anywhere, anytime. As Thomas Harris wrote of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs –

Dr. Lecter amused himself — he has extensive internal resources and can entertain himself for years at a time….He was free in his head.

My thoughts are incredibly precious to me. You’ve no idea what goes on in my head, but if you could get in there and listen you would probably be rolling on the floor laughing. I usually am, in my head, at least. It’s like a really good episode of Seinfeld crossed with Jane Austen crossed with all the other authors on my bookshelf. I have a lot of fun right here in my own skull. That is one reason why drugs never appealed to me – why would I want to escape something so great as the insanity in my own head?

The fourth most important thing I carry with me –

I find and appreciate beauty anyplace I look. Whether it is a really gorgeous piece of fabric, or a stunning sunset, or even just the every day, I look for beauty in it. I waste as little time on the unimportant as possible. I have so little time here that I do not want to spend one minute watching the evening news or pandering to people I cannot stand.

The fifth most important thing I carry with me –

The tips I have been given from so many different sources. Like I said the other day about the Oprah tip –

Years and years ago she did a show on travelling and security and little tips. One of the things mentioned was going to the toilet in an airport, and it’s actually changed the way I view using public toilets anywhere. As in – I always walk to the very last cubicle. People are lazy in general, they will usually use the first ones they reach, so the last cubicle usually is cleaner and has more toilet paper. So even some seemingly silly advice like that can make for lifelong habits that can be of benefit. She was right, especially in Australia where not every woman watches Oprah. I bet in the US it meant the last toilet was the most used! ;)

Some of the really important tips have come to me from books, and many of them library books that I don’t own. So I can’t always give the proper attribution or name where they came from. I was going to try and list some of them here but I’m blank now. I’ll have to post them as they come to me. ;)

As far as literally carrying things with me –

The older I get, the less I want to carry. If I can get out of the house without my handbag and mobile phone, I will do so anytime. I prefer it that way. It might have something to do with me sometimes forgetting to pick those things up when I’m out. So far I haven’t lost anything but it is wiser for The Other Half to be in charge of important things like money, cards you use to get money and keys.

Aussie Police really do have a fantastic sense of humor, which is why I am so sad I cannot listen to them on the radio scanner anymore – they’ve gone digital. ;( I miss you Policemen!

Hump Day Hmmm, life lessons, spider

Karma. Or why it’s bad to be bad.

In my work life, I’ve had to work for people who weren’t related to me from time to time. Working in family businesses does a couple of things for you.

– You tend to work a lot harder overall, because you’ve got a personal stake in the outcome
– You generally trust the people you’re working with because they are family
– You get out of the habit of watching your back because you feel (right or wrong) that your family has it covered for you.

I started out working for family when I was 13. That continued until I was 20, when the family business was sold. A manager who was not related to me was put in. I soon found he was a smarmy evil person only interested in career advancement. I was sent into the head office for 6 weeks, then sent back to my old store where he was now the manager. My first Saturday working for him, he sent me home to get changed. At head office, the staff were all told to wear jeans and a t-shirt for weekend trading, to make the customers feel more at home. He did not believe in this view. I returned dressed like I was about to take over the Presidency of the USA. And I took my time about it, because he’d made me very angry.

Working for him was not very much fun. He was the biggest ass kisser I ever met to anyone above him but the staff below he treated like dirt. He forgot the rule of do what you’re told.. He was fired soon after I told head office about the Saturday thing – several months later during a training session. I actually was kind of joking about it, but I’d made very good friends with the main boss and he had sent out a memo about this Saturday thing stating the dress code, and he was NOT happy with this manager going against his express wishes.

The second boss I had who wasn’t family didn’t know who I was when he hired me. My Dad had actually given *his* Dad a start in the industry. After sitting down and filling out the paperwork, I thanked him for hiring me even though I was the daughter of… The look on his face was horror. He said “Excuse me” and ran off to call his Dad right away. When he came back he had clearly been told that he couldn’t fire me having just hired me, so he was all nice again. He’d already made the decision to keep me on a couple of weeks then get rid of me. Two weeks later, I was politely shown the door. Two months later, his store figures were terrible, and he was replaced by head office with a new person not related to him in any way. He ended up going back to his Dad’s store with his tail between his legs.

What he didn’t know was, I was always loyal to my employer, just like I was loyal to any family employer. I think that was the major concern – I had several family members working for opposition stores. Whether he thought I was going to “steal” information or something, I don’t know but he misjudged me completely and karma bit him in the ass for acting like an asshole, not just to me but to many other people.

I wasn’t out of work for long. The next place I went to was a mobile phone store. I’d always sold mobile phones and had in fact won many awards from Telstra (our major phone company) for being mystery shopped in the past. The store I went to work for was a Telstra store. There’s about 200 of them in this country, they’re everywhere. This one was owned by a family business but they also had several other Telstra stores around the country, so I was in a store with a manager.

Managers can be excellent, or not. This one seemed to think every day was time for him to take time off without ever telling anyone where he was going. He’d open the store in the morning and then go out for coffee and a cigarette. That generally took an hour, putting him back in the store around 10am, where he would get on the phone and sound intelligent for all of 15 minutes, at which point he would duck out for morning tea coffee and a cigarette. This event usually lasted between 1-2 hours, at which point it was time for lunch. Lunch led into afternoon tea. He’d return to the store about 5pm for closing and general staff chit chat. By the end of the day he would have spent maybe 2 hours in the store, if we were lucky.

I worked pretty hard there, and the deal was you worked for three months full time on probation without being paid your commission. When they ended your probation, you were back paid all the commission. I had racked up a princely sum (especially for mobile phone sales, where you get maybe $5 per phone) which was enough to put a deposit on a house. Over $10,000.

The day came for the ending of the probation, and I was told that things weren’t working out, and they would not be employing me further. I felt like I had been hit with a truck. What was worse, was the guy LIED, saying he’d discussed issues with me. He’d barely discussed the *weather* with me, ever. He was never in the store long enough! I was so angry. He told me I was no good at my job blah blah blah. I left completely shattered.

However I did get a nice new shiny job earning a lot more $$$ working for Telstra who at the time were an excellent employer. He did not fare so well. The family behind the business decided to sell all their stores except the one he was in. They moved their head office into that store. That guy can’t even go to the toilet without it being noted now. No all day long coffee breaks, no long lunches, and he has to actually work!

Some months later a very good friend of mine at Telstra went to work for the same company. I warned him and told him what happened to me, in fact I begged him not to go there. He was a fantastic salesperson and worth much more than they would pay him. After three months, he was also told seeya later, he got in touch with me, we found out this was actually something they did to a LOT of people in order to make more money. My friend reported them, last I heard they were being investigated for several things. I should have sued to get that commission. He did get his, after taking them to court.

I do believe that Karma does come back to bite people in the rear eventually. Sometimes it might not be in this lifetime. I’ve not been a perfect person in my life and I have seen the Karma due to me actually come to me in some of the things I have been through.

I really wish that more of us explained the concept of Karma to our kids, because maybe there would be a little less unpleasantness, a little less bullying, a little less of the things that go on in school. Many of the people who were unpleasant to me in school have seen that Karma come back to them and I am sure if they knew then what they know now.. they would have chosen a different path. I would have chosen differently myself.

Hump Day Hmmm, life lessons, work

I think I thought I saw you try..

When I go to sleep at night, the road back from from the place I want to live flashes before me. Big tall trees on either side of the road but it’s like I’m flying so fast, they all blur. And my fear is, something’s gonna jump out in front of me and I’ll hit it. The faster I go, the more things I see threatening to jump out. I know I have to keep going. Moving forward.

I am not a perfect person. I am many things, and germophobe is one of them. You know those people who can’t go out of their house because they’re scared of germs? I’m not there yet, but I can see there from here. Germophobia is different for different people.

For me, I have trouble with –

– door handles
– sponges, teatowels, tablecloths
– food preparation – things have to be clean, clean chopping boards, clean knives, clean utensils
– needing to have clean hands
– people sneezing in my presence
– germ overload when I touch too many dirty things I begin to freak out
– getting to a place where I throw my hands in the air and say “I can’t deal with this” (such a place might be called germ overload)

I am in the process of making positive changes in many areas in my life, and today I have taken a big step towards a goal I set myself recently, which is having a cleaner house. You see for me, it is easier to live with dusty surfaces than to clean them. Cleaning becomes a big deal because if I am going to do it, I want to do it 100% all the time but I don’t have the energy to do this. An Olympic athlete does not have the energy to make things as clean as I would like them.

I have recently decided this all or nothing approach is a really bad idea. ;) Spending 8 hours cleaning one bathroom is really not for me and in the past, it has been easier for me to just throw my hands in the air and say “I can’t face cleaning it” than to do a “lesser” job.

Carl Jung said – “We cannot change anything unless we accept it.”

I accept that I have a problem with cleaning. I accept that I am a germophobe. I accept that it is better for things to be somewhat clean than absolutely spotless or very unclean.

The serenity prayer says “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

I cannot magically snap my fingers and make myself a non-germophobe. I have to take baby steps towards making things better, and I have the courage and will to do this. I can create positive change. I cannot solve all the problems in the world, but this I can work on.

So recently I accepted that wiping things down with an anti-bacterial cloth once a week was a good idea and a positive change that I could make that would help me get to a place where I wasn’t throwing my hands in the air, unable to act. Over the past couple of weeks I have spent some time cleaning things obsessively.

3 days to do my bookshelves, come on you guys, that is NOT normal, it is not like I have an entire library here, there’s two book shelves with a total of 24 alcoves in them. Not only did I clean the shelves, I cleaned each book, each ornament on the shelves, all the picture frames, anything nearby. Obsessively. They are now spotless, and this means I can just wipe the shelves over, wipe the books which are getting dusty. If I do that once a week, I’ll feel a lot better.

Today I tackled the difficult subject of the bathrooms. I have been putting it off. The other day the other half said to me that he had no idea how someone who claimed to be a germophobe could live with such a bathroom situation. They were filthy. I said this germophobe could not live with having to clean these bathrooms. Whoever designed them is a real idiot. There are many spots for germs to hide. To clean the vanity tops usually takes me 2 hours alone and it is backbreaking because of the height of the darned things. They were designed for very short people.

That’s not even getting into cleaning the toilets. There’s not enough anti-bacterial hand wash in the world for me to cope with that. So I’d rather put it off, and put it off, and keep putting it off until I can’t take anymore.

When one does put in the hard yards and does the work, one feels a real sense of accomplishment. Now, I intend a quick wipe over once a week, and then I won’t have to do this evil backbreaking hours of work chore because it won’t get that bad. The trouble is having stuff on top of the vanity means you have to move all that stuff when you want to clean it. That’s what was stopping me from cleaning the bookshelves for so long. Too much stuff in the way which I’d have to move, and clean. I’m thinking a box with a lid would be a lot easier.

I just went into the bathroom before to wash my hands, and took great pleasure in the clean surfaces. I have to remember that when I start to think I can’t reach this goal. I can reach it. I know I can. And who put can’t in my vocabulary? I don’t like that word. Will not, sure. May not, fine. Do not, okie dokie. Can not – it has to be one of the previous three.

I’m so tired. I’ve been up since 7:30am and most of the afternoon was spent in a cleaning frenzy. I’m going to sleep for hours. ;) Tomorrow it’s weekly wrap up time.

germophobe, life lessons, music

The power of positive thought.

In various discussions around the interweb lately, I’ve realized that I’m a pretty lucky person. Fairly early on in my life, I have learnt some life lessons which have been useful in helping me get to the place I am now. Many of these lessons are going to stick with me and I can build on them as time goes by.

One lesson I learnt by working in call centres is the power of positive thought. Outbound telemarketing is not an easy job. You have to be able to get yourself into a mental place where you can handle people saying no to you constantly. Rejection on such a massive scale can really get you down. You need inner resources which most people do not have and find difficult to get.

Most important of all, you need to be able to put the past behind you and move on. Not past from years ago, past from the last call you made. When you were told “no” and you hang up the phone, you need to be able to say “The next one will be a yes”. Otherwise you won’t be able to make that call. And when you get a “Yes” you need to celebrate that and build on it. In an average 5 hour outbound calling shift, we would average 20 calls per hour, and only ONE of those would be a yes. That means 19 people said no. If you took it personally it could mess with your head in a major way.

So one of the tools I used constantly were Dream Cards by Leon Nacson. I didn’t use them in the way intended by the author, though. Each day at the start of a shift, I would shuffle the cards, close my eyes and pick one from the middle of the pack. That card would be stuck to my computer screen. The cards contain positive messages and I found that by having the card there, I would find myself reading the card – which is essentially *thinking* the card. Here’s a picture of the cards, so you can see the kinds of positive messages they contain. You’ll need to click the thumbnail for a larger image. :)


And I found that each day, whatever card I seemed to pick out was exactly what I needed to think that day. I don’t know whether that is destiny or just pure luck. For example – I would pull out “I am free from agitation and tension. Nothing can provoke me.” on a day when the people I spoke to would be trying their best to wind me up. I had that card on my desk on the day a customer told me that wind power was bad for the environment because “it takes the wind out of the air”.

These cards got me through some really hard times. I am so grateful for that. I recommend you get your own set but if you can’t find them or can’t afford it, you can just write down a positive thought and put it on your desk.

When I left call centre work I got out of the habit of using these cards, but a couple of months ago I put them back on my desk and each day I shuffle them and pick one, which sits at the bottom of my computer screen. Next to a piece of paper that has sat on my desktop for many months now – sometimes taking the high road is no fun at all.

We often do not realize we are sabotaging ourselves. The “tapes” in our head play constant negative thoughts. Until you stop to listen to what tape you are playing, you cannot begin to make changes and play a more positive tape.

For more on the power of positive thinking, you may want to read this article – Mind your thoughts.

I also use I Can Do It cards by Louise Hay.

call centre, life lessons, moving forward, negative thought, power of positive thought, taking the high road

What not to wear.

I’m sure many of you heard of todays plane crash in Indonesia.


It’s an unpleasant fact of life that sometimes, planes do fall out of the sky. Which is why anytime I go to get on one, I am constantly amazed at how unprepared people are for the possibility of what might happen. They ignore the safety briefing, don’t even bother to look for the nearest exit, and *worst* of all, wear things which are not appropriate for the occasion.

The reason I mention this is, I just saw footage of the crash scene with a woman clearly injured, trying to walk in heels and a mini-skirt. Not a good idea!

So, a few fashion don’ts for when you next fly..


This outfit will mean you have trouble getting to the exit door, which will mean those behind you might not make it to the door at all. Nice for street-walking (literally perhaps) but no good for flying. Heels will hinder your progress. Put them in the suitcase, don’t wear them in flight.


Pantihose! OH NO! Major plane fashion faux pas! The fibers will melt in a fire and stick to your skin, which is not a good look and certainly would cause a lot of pain. Just say no to pantyhose when flying.


Going on a beach holiday? Save the beach dressing for when you arrive. Wearing something like this on a plane will get you talked about, and more than likely a large percentage of burns to much of your body in the event of a crash. Not a wise choice.

Leave your flip flops in your luggage, because in the *very rare but occasionally it does happen* instance that you have to traverse broken metal and things on fire, your feet will appreciate that you chose to wear a real pair of shoes.

So what should you wear?

Covered, closed, comfortable shoes, preferably leather. I like Doc Martens myself.

Comfortable pants which are easy to move in.

No flammable fabrics – though all fabrics will become flammable in the kinds of fires you will see in planes, some fabrics are more likely to catch fire than others.

Denim jeans (not too tight, don’t restrict your movement) is the better choice.

A long sleeve shirt to protect your arms from burns. Wool is one of the least flammable materials. Cotton is a good choice too.

The idea is, to get out of the plane before you have to deal with the fire. If you are wearing sensible clothes which you can move in, its more likely you’ll be able to manage this task. Knowing where the nearest exits are will also help. But if you are injured and can’t move, wearing clothes that will protect you will be a good idea too.

Anyway, that’s just a few thoughts you might want to consider when next choosing what to wear when you fly.

Save the fashion for the catwalk, put it in your suitcase.

When you fly, dress to survive.

Even though 99.9% of flights make it safely to their destination, if your flight happens to be one where you do need to evacuate, you will appreciate dressing to survive instead of dressing for fashion.

Fashion, life lessons, plane safety, things to remember, what not to do

Now what?

I find myself in an odd position that I have not been in for quite a long time.

I don’t have anyone to hate right now.

This is a strange place to be, because I’ve had someone(s) to hate most of the time, pretty much since high school. And hating is actually a lot of fun, kind of. You get to make up nice little daydream fantasies of getting your own back, of sorting them out, of them being shown what they have done is wrong, and in one memorable case (my current partners ex wife) of the myriad of ways you could dead them. Personally. I’m not the kind of person who likes to send other people to do my dirty work, truly! If there’s blood to be spilt, lets get it on my hands.

But eventually, you build a bridge, and you walk over it, and then you’re left with an empty space. What daydreams can we fill it with? It’s easier to hate than it is to have pleasant little daydreams. I know this now. And once you have built that bridge and walked over it, you can’t go back. You can’t be thinking of daydream fantasies of people you once hated but now just don’t trust at all and would rather have nothing to do with them. It’s not possible.

So I find myself standing on the other side of the bridge with no hate in my heart. Instead there is sadness, regret, and a wish that things could have worked out differently – yet at the same time, a happiness that people were shown to be who they really were before any more time was invested and wasted, and a true gladness that I’m no longer blinded – I can see these people for who they really are, and what I can see is pure ugly to the core.

I’ve put this in the category of Angry Snoskred, but I am actually not angry – I am the opposite of Angry. I don’t have a category for Happy Snoskred yet! I have now created one.

About Snoskred, Angry Snoskred, Happy Snoskred, life lessons

I wonder..

Is it not known all over the world that smuggling drugs into or out of particular countries in Asia will get you a death penalty?

Because it struck me while I was watching a show on the crime channel here about some poor woman who “accidentally” swallowed a few packets of heroin and then was surprised when she was arrested and narrowly escaped the death penalty somehow, that maybe I should actually be feeling sorry for these people like I feel sorry for the victims of scams?

The reason people fall for scams is a lack of education, I believe. I don’t think anyone could swallow packets of heroin without knowing that this isn’t a good idea, but maybe they just weren’t educated, maybe they didn’t know any better, maybe they didn’t check the situation out before they acted. Or not. I have known drug smuggling would result in the death penalty since Bangkok Hilton was on here, many years ago, with Nicole Kidman. Maybe that wasn’t played in other countries around the world.

I’ve been watching a fair bit of the crime channel lately. They have episodes of Cops on there, which I enjoy, and they now have a new show about the cops in New Zealand, which is actually hilarious – those Kiwi Police have an incredible sense of humour.

drugs, life lessons, what not to do

Its not how big it is..

Really, it’s not. It’s the *quality* that is important. Which is why when we last bought camera equipment, we threw money (about $7,000) to the photo people and bought this.


Yes, it’s a crappy pic, I took it with my camera phone. Well, how can you take a photo of the camera with the camera? Doh! It’s a Canon d10 camera body (quite old now, they’re onto the d30 now I think) but the more important part is the L series lens. I can’t explain why it is important, it just *is*. It enables me to take some incredible pics. It is the heaviest thing I’ve ever carried. You need to go into training to take this to the zoo for a day, I’m telling you. It’s not easy to carry it around.

However, it is *worth* carrying it around because you get some incredible pics. I’ve got like 10,000 of them on this computer. I can’t even dig through them to pick out the great ones, there’s too many and I have chores to do.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I’m taking my photos of the day, I hadn’t been using this lens. It was just too heavy to get started with. I wanted to get into the habit of taking them often, and plenty of them, and I knew the bigger lens would get in the way of that. So I’ve been using a much smaller one. And getting very nice results, even if I do say so myself.

All that changed on the 2nd of December, when I finally decided it was time. I’ve been using the big lens since then. You can see all my pics here.

Now I hear you guys all going “But why did you spend so much money?” – We’d had 5 digital cameras over the years, none of them worth less than $2,000, and none of them comparing even slightly with this one. We finally had learnt the lesson – If you are going to do something, do it properly. Don’t mess about. Invest wisely. It’s worth it. Even if you have to put it on the credit card. Life is short. Spend it while you can.

life lessons, photography