About Me

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I started this blog as I entered my 40th year, and now firmly in my 40s, I continue to learn so much about life. I'm learning that life rarely goes according to plan and that there's something new to learn every single day, be it a subtle nudge or a smack in the face.... This is my blog about muddling through my 40s-working hard, writing a book, being an ammateur photographer, trying to exercise and eat well, endeavouring to be the world's best aunt, as well as having fun and laughing out loud every single day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

#7 Part II The TAGS

The first writer I am tagging in The Next Big Thing Interview is writer and radio guy, Alex Myers.  You can find him on twitter here or on the web here.

Once Alex completes his interview, I'll post the link here.

Alex - you're tagged!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

#7 The Next Big Thing

In the lead up to the A-Z challenge, I have been tagged in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.  This is a chance for writers around the world to tell you what they’re working on. The author answers 10 questions about their next big thing, and then tags another 3 writers to do the same.

Happily, I was tagged by Bonnie Ditlevson, editor of Penduline Press: Literary Magazine. Read Bonnie's Interview here:   Bonnie Ditlevsen - The Next Big Thing Interview.  Thanks Bonnie!

I must confess that when Bonnie first asked me if I would mind if she tagged me in The Next Big Thing, I actually thought she meant AS The Next Big Thing.  Haha - how is that from someone who doesn't even think they can call themself a writer yet?! 

What is your working title of your book?
A Hole in My Genes:  A Psychologist's Memoir About  Life, Love and Breast Cancer.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
In 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37.  In my work as a psychologist I had a lot of experience working in the field of oncology, my area of interest, and have received a lot of training in the psychology of cancer.  As I have devoured billions of books on the topic, I found myself able to draw on that knowledge throughout my own treatment.

Once through treatment, and with enough distance from the experience, I began to ponder the usefulness of sharing my experiences and coping strategies with others who may find themselves in difficult situations.

I maintained a journal of letters written to my Nana throughout the journey and am using those to form the basis of my book.

What genre does your book fall under?
I would definitely say Autobiography and Memoir, but who knows, there could be other genres that may describe what I am doing here.  For example, Health, Mind and Body.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I LOVE this question.  Okay - John Goodman would play my Dad.  Everyone always says I look like SJP, but I'd probably prefer a young Julia Roberts.  Kathy Bates could play my mum.  And Nan could be played by Dame Judy Dench.  The surgeon could be Henry Winkler.  The oncologist - Jodie Foster.  There are so many characters to fill and I can just see all of my friends reading this and asking "what about who will play me?".  Suggestions are welcome!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A psychologist's memoir about coping through the end of a marriage and her firsthand foray into the world of breast cancer, infertility, genetic counselling and family dysfunction.  

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I would like to think there will be an agent or publisher interested in my book.  If not, I think self publishing is a feasible way to go.  But, I've said before, writing this book is more about telling the story so that I can leave it behind me and go on to write the stories that are waiting to flow out of me once this one is done.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I kept a journal over the year of treatment and am now in my third writing class in the Literary Kitchen with Ariel Gore.  By the end of the class, I will have a completed first draft - I hope.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Many people inspired this book.  Mainly, the many psycho-oncology clients who shared their experiences with me through my work.  Once I experienced cancer myself, I could truly appreciate the psychological struggle that cancer presents and I wanted to ease the burden of others in a similar situation through sharing my story and strategies. 

Writing letters to my grandmother who died four years before I was diagnosed, throughout my year with cancer, was the most beneficial thing I did.  So in many ways, Nan inspired me to complete this book.

I have been fortunate to know several young women who have through their own deaths, taught me how to live.  It goes without saying, that they have inspired this book.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I believe the letters to my Nan will be a point of interest to readers as I have had very positive feedback about them in the Literary Kitchen.  As I have previously mentioned, I am a psychologist with experience in psycho-oncology who has now had a firsthand experience with cancer which provides the book with a somewhat unique perspective.  This book also deals with the end of a marriage, infertility, childlessness, genetics, family dysfunction and a psychological therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  It's sort of like an incidental self-help book as well as being real and accessible.

It's now my job to tag three other writers to do this interview too.  While I'm figuring that out, here is a link to my fellow writer Rocky Hartley's Next Big Thing Interview.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#6 Challenge Accepted

Dear Blogging Friends,

Are you up for a challenge?  Today I was informed of the 2013 A-Z Blog Challenge and I have accepted the challenge.

For the month of April, a couple of thousand bloggers will accept the challenge to post on their blog every day bar Sundays, inspired by the letters of the alphabet.  On the first day, A, second day, B, etc.

All bloggers are encouraged to check out at least 5 other blogger's posts every day, expanding your blogging network.

If you've ever thought about blogging, now's the time!  If you already have a blog, are you up for the challenge??  C'mon.  Show us what you have!  Join in via the link and list of all participants underneath my posts.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

#5 Escritura Rapida

My writing class in the Literary Kitchen started again this weekend.  Part of the class each week is to be given a topic, set your timer for 8 minutes, and write quickly.  It's called a Quick Write.  You then have a minute to tidy it up, then post it for all to see.

This week's topic was "Salad Bar".  You should give it a go!

Here's what I came up with:

The transition from Sizzler Salad Bar to Ristorante Italiano complete with menu unreadable to the naive 21yo English only speaking female occurred over night.
He walked through the door of the massage therapy clinic I was working for.  I had read his name in the appointment book – Fred – and was expecting an 80 year old man.  Honestly, I was looking forward to the conversation as I massaged his life weary limbs and joints.  Instead, the captain of the local basketball team, American import, tall, African American, amazing, walked in.
Fred was charming.  Of course.  He’d just arrived in town.  Did I know any nice restaurants?  Would I like to go out for dinner some time?  Who could resist.  He was the city’s equivalent of Michael Jordan.
He rang that night.  Dinner was set for the next day.  I dressed up in my most sophisticated 21 year old clothes, feeling at least 25, and met him at the restaurant.  Clearly intimidated by his 10 year age advantage, not to mention his worldliness and African Americanness, I’m not sure how I managed to walk through the door.
Then I looked at the menu.  It was completely written in Italian.  I couldn’t understand a word.  And so began my education in travel, culture, international cuisine and life.  If nothing else, I can thank Fred for planting the seed for that part of me that I wanted to continue to grow and nurture.
A while after he left, breaking my heart, I went to the letter box to find a magazine containing an interview with him.  He was now living in China.  He said, “I’ve lived in a lot of countries and I’ve noticed that we all want the same thing.  To be happy.”  And he was right.

#4 That damn greener grass......

I remember reading a Dolly magazine interview with then 23 yo Cindy Crawford.  Two pearls of wisdom from Cindy stayed with me. 

1.        The notion of having a signature scent.  For many, many years I was a Giorgio diehard.  It’s only been more recently, thanks to the advent of Strawberrynet that I have branched out to trying a variety of scents.

2.       The concept that an increase in years typically results in a decline in metabolism.  Imagine Cindy Crawford at 23 having to worry about her weight..... regardless, my 17 year old brain stored that little gem away, anticipating the time of life when I would be adding on average one kilo per year.

Yesterday, the memory of that life-changing edition of Dolly came jolting back.  A lovely, newly engaged friend came around to try on my wedding dress.  Both of us believers in the pointlessness of spending thousands of dollars on a dress to be worn only once.

Don’t worry, I have been acutely aware for some time now that I no longer possess the figure I had on my wedding day.  Factors my mind allows me to consider as major contributors to said change include: extreme spontaneous weight loss in the lead up to the wedding; cancer treatment; decline in exercise (ability and motivation); and of course, the big one – age.  Welcome to 40!

It may seem obvious, but I have seriously only realised that it is no longer helpful for my self esteem to compare myself in any way, shape or form to women who are in their twenties.

In fact, comparisons of any form are rarely helpful.  Think about it, no matter what the scale of measure, there will ALWAYS be those better off than us, as well as the rarely considered those who are less well off than us.

I have discovered, that if on the very odd occasion I must do a little reality check to see how I am travelling in terms of health and fitness (read: ‘ego boost’), it only works if I compare myself to women over 60.  Even then, it sometimes fails.  Damn you Helen Miren!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

#3 Amigos

They say that there are different stages in life where we make friends.  The obvious ones are primary school, secondary school, university, work, and then those that come with being a parent - perhaps meeting other parents of kids who go to your kids' school, for example.

My newest and latest friendships are being formed through my writing class.  The Literary Kitchen is the creation of author Ariel Gore who holds online writing classes.  The class is made up of predominantly American writers, as that is where she is based, but it's gaining a more international flavour.

I've struck up a lovely, supportive friendship with two other writers in particular.  One of whom is from Texas.  He's particularly funny and posts "Country Song Titles of the Week" on his Facebook page, like  "I'm so miserable without you, it's like having you here."

Anyway, the other day I received a message asking me if I'd ever heard of Slim Dusty - he'd just discovered Slim on You Tube.

What a flashback!

I'd love to have a beer with Duncan,
Love to have a beer with Dunc,
We drink in moderation and we never, ever, ever get rolling drunk
We drink at the Town and Country
Where the atmosphere is great
I'd love to have a beer with Duncan
Cause Duncan's me mate

What a classic.  I remember singing this on sporting trips as a little girl.  In fact, imagine 10 little girls in the back of the bus taking it in turns to have their name replace Duncan - surely they didn't let us sing about beer........

I'd love to read your childhood musical memories.

BTW, can anyone explain this google +1 business to me??

Friday, March 15, 2013

#2 Solita, Lolita

Singledom is relatively new to me.  I've been quite the little serial monogomist since age 15 with only two 6 month long periods on my own.  Some would say that is not healthy.  But, that's just how my life worked out.

I ran into an old school friend the other day who said that she had recently started seeing someone after a two year break from relationships.  I have just clocked up twelve months and we both agreed that it has been wonderful and liberating to remove the pressure that comes with the expectation that one "should" be in a relationship.

It's not without its moments of course, but the worst part for me is often the burden of having to be responsible for everything - house work, finances, cooking, changing the doona cover!  Domesticity certainly eats well into my precious Bucket List time. 

As does my inability to say no.  This is definitely where my work/life balance falls down.  The struggle to stick to the boundaries I set for myself in regard to the number of clients I see in a day is endless.  I'm a sucker for a sob story.  Completely wrapped around the finger of anyone who utters the words "I really need to see you today".  We all need to be needed, right???

On Thursdays I get it right.  I still work hard, but I get to leave a little early to pick my nephews up from school and spend a fabulous couple of hours with them before taking them to karate.  Thursday afternoons are definitely the highlight of my week.  Afterward, I manage to exercise, catch up with friends, and when I'm lucky, I also have time to write.  Heaven.

Sometimes, every other day of the week however, feels like it does not belong to me.  Between, more work, exercise, camera club, writing assignments, cooking, eating well, and feeling completely 'peopled' out, I often come up short when it comes to finding time for my friends.  Sometimes I simply have nothing left.

Therein lies the struggle.  And so, a heartfelt shout-out:

To all of my beautiful and patient friends, please do not take my irregular contact personally.  Rest assured, I am making it my life's work to strike the balance I so desire, to be a calmer person and more present friend.

All my love,


Thursday, March 14, 2013

#1 Blog Life Begins at 40

The last time I wrote a blog, life was very different.

In 2009, my husband and I were struggling with the decision of whether or not to have a baby.  Although I didn't know it at the time, research for the blog helped me sort through the confusion and chaos inside my head and my body, and the entire experience of blog writing was nothing short of an ablution for my soul.

In the short version, the marriage ultimately ended amicably one month before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March, 2010.  Breast cancer treatment took up the rest of 2010 and eventually removed any possibility of me having children. 

In some marvellous stroke of genius by the universe however, surviving cancer provided a level of perspective that has made all of the loss and change over the past three years, okay.  It's all okay.

At times, I have found great pleasure, peace and calm in the smallest and seemingly most insignificant of things.  Colours have seemed brighter.  The smell of Summer in the air, or the feel of rain drops on my face have brought such happiness and satisfaction to my day.  The desire for the things I don't have has faded and in its place I feel more happiness than I have since I was a little girl.

Throughout treatment, I held my 40th birthday as a very significant milestone.  I figured that if I made it to 40, I would most likely be well with hair that would help me somewhat resemble my old self.  Turning 40 would be not only a birthday milestone, but it would be a celebration of life.  The life I had already lived, as well as the future I still had in front of me. 

Allowing myself to look forward more than a day at a time has been a real challenge, especially once treatment ended.  I continue to struggle with maintaining a balance and not take on too much, trying to live an entire lifetime in a shorter period, because there is no guarantee that I will have as many years left as I would once have thought.

My bucket list is overflowing and time is of the essence.  Writing is on the top of the list and I am in the process of writing my first book.  But I want to write in different ways and here I am, back blogging.  I am very into lists of things you must do before you die, so I have included my own What to Check Out Before You Check Out.  See the right hand margin of the blog - I'd love to hear everyone's suggestions, so please feel free to comment.

Predominantly though, through this blog I hope to work my way through my ever growing bucket list, as well as make myself accountable - to not allow myself to lose the precious perspective I have gained - and to live my life, one moment at a time.
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