About Me

My photo
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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Who would have thought it could be so tiring writing a post practically every day for a month?!  I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed the process, especially meeting all of you and finding such new and interesting blogs to follow.

I still have a lot more of you to meet and blogs to explore and I am looking forward to doing just that after a wee break and a nice big sleep!

Thanks for your comments and your follows.  I look forward to repaying the favour!

Now what’s the next challenge...........

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yesterday

Thank you firstly to everyone who offered Y and Z suggestions to get me over the line for the last two posts in this A – Z Challenge.

Yesterday was Sunday.  But it wasn’t just any other Sunday.  No.  Yesterday was a Sunday with a purpose.  It was also the fourth day of a loooong weekend for me beginning with Anzac Day here in Australia.  I attended my first Dawn Service that day...... but that’s another story.

I have been over-working.  It’s true.  It happens often for me and I have to be very careful to ensure I counterbalance the work with “me time”.  Usually that encompasses exercise, friend and family time, writing, photography, movies and relaxation.  Things have been out of whack lately and I ended up with chest pain.  I know!

I thought it was anxiety but not like I’d ever experienced before.  Luckily, a trip to the doctor informed me it was actually digestive.  I also have high cholesterol levels.  What?!  So now, exercise and diet are necessary for more reasons than one.  Nothing like hitting rock bottom to kick you in the butt!  Just what I needed.

The other thing I needed was my BFF to take me by the hand to the day spa to soak in the mineral pool and spa, lazily massaging our muscles against the jets, talking talking talking.  Soooo gooood.  When then treated ourselves to the lovely products on offer to moisturise and soothe our skin afterwards.   Next, a leisurely long lunch, and more talking........ it’s what girl’s do best!  A relaxing walk and window shop followed topping off the most amazing morning.  Thanks J!

I ended the long weekend feeling so relaxed and ready to start the week (another short week!).  Now, just to maintain it.........

What is the strangest thing you do for relaxation???

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xenophobia

I cannot explain why, but when thinking of words that begin with the letter ‘X’, the word xenophobia was the first word that popped into my head.  I’ve never actually met anyone who has xenophobia – probably because they would be too scared to meet me!

Anyway, the weirdness of the word got me researching and I came across a whole host of phobias beginning with the letter X.  Here they are below:

Xanthophobia: Fear of the colour yellow or the word yellow.

Xenoglossophobia: Fear of foreign languages.

Xenophobia: Fear of strangers or foreigners.

Xerophobia: Fear of dryness.

Xylophobia: 1) Fear of wooden objects. 2) Forests.

Xyrophobia: Fear of razors.

Can you even imagine what it would mean to live with any of these??? 

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for White Castle

Harold and Kumar go to White Castle goes down in my history as one of the funniest films I have ever seen.  Not only was it my re-introduction to Doogie Howser M. D., hello Neil Patrick Harris and welcome Barney Stinson...... okay, so I really am only talking about Harold and Kumar because I adore NPH!

This is cheating, but this is what NPH said in an interview about how he came to play himself in the Harold and Kumar Franchise:

Well, I got a call from a friend who was auditioning for this movie and he was so excited that we were going to be working together. And I said, “I have no idea what you're talking about.” And he said, “You're written in this movie. Neil Patrick Harris is a character in this movie. You don't know anything about it?” And I said, “I have no idea what you're talking about.” And so he said, “Oh, you should have your agents track it down.” So I did, and they read it, and then they called my attorney to find out what was going on, and then I winded up meeting with the guys, kind of cautiously, to see just what their plan was. Because when you're talking about an extreme version of yourself, you want to make sure you're not painted in a super shitty light. Even though it's like dark and funny and whatever, tons of drugs and strippers and lines of coke is dangerous territory potentially. But they were super nice and the whole movie was that same level of absurdity.
Imagine my excitement when I turned the corner onto 8th Avenue while I was in Manhattan, and saw my first White Castle restaurant!  No, I didn’t go in.
Anyway, the moral to this very short (and a little bit cheating) post, is that if you haven’t seen these movies, and you love NPH like I do, then do yourself a favour!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vixen

Marisa Acocella Marchetto is a name that first came to my attention whilst working in a cancer hospital.  She had just published her memoir Cancer Vixen: A True Story about her battle with breast cancer 2004 through 2005.

The difference with this cancer memoir was that it was a cartoon.
And it was real and honest.

At the time, I was excited about its potential for being a resource I could use with my clients.  It also provided me with some insight into what it must be like for young women living with cancer.
Of course, as you all know by now it turned out to be a very valuable resource, but on more levels than I could ever have imagined.
Stories like this will never have an expiry date.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Unforgettable

There are things that happen in our lives that we will never forget.  Have you ever noticed how some unforgettable things are things you've had to forgive but can't forget?Here is a list of things that spring to mind for me.  

·         Our wedding day

·         Saying goodbye to my Nan

·         Arriving in Europe the first time

·         Visiting New York City

·         My 21st birthday party

·         Falling in love for the first time

·         My nephew’s births

·         Graduating from university

·         Sitting with my first client

·         Running my first (and only) 10K run

·         Losing my hair to chemotherapy

·         My friendships throughout cancer treatment

·         The end of a friendship due to cancer

·         Paris in the Summer

·         Turning 40

·         Matchbox20 at Tempus II

·         Bruce Springsteen live

·         Madonna live – when she was relevant, in 1993

What would be on your list?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Travel

Okay, I acknowledge that at least 90% of the bloggers doing this challenge are going to write about travel.  Let’s face it.  We all know travel is the meaning of life.  (I can’t wait to read everyone’s responses to that statement!)

I was a late bloomer in the travel department, not getting my first passport until I was 21 years old and not leaving the country until 22 – New Zealand – 2.5 hours away.
I hit my travel stride at 26, adding stamps to that passport like something that adds things very quickly.
I once worked with a woman who judged people based on whether they possessed a passport or not.  Almost as if a person possessed no value whatsoever if they had not travelled.  Once, on a work trip, she and I, plus a non-passport owner workmate sat down to dinner.  Somehow the conversation turned to travel and I sat in utter silence as she literally berated the poor homebody non-traveller for not having left the country.  It was really weird and actually mean.
I have a question.  Has anyone else experienced an increase in trepidation in regards to travel as they get older?  As you’re well aware, I’m forty years old.  Where once I would take on the world in a single bound, with little to no forethought or planning, I now find myself slightly anxious when preparing to travel.
I’m off to Peru in July.  I speak Spanish, so the language shouldn’t be a barrier.  All of my flights and accommodation is booked and my spending money saved.  There’s very little for me to worry about apart from getting the best shot of Macchu Pichu that I can.  And yet, I worry.  What if something happens to me while I’m away?  What if I’m robbed?  Or there’s an earthquake?  Or volcano?  What if the plane crashes?  Or the train? 
Maybe it’s because I need vaccinations before I go.  Maybe because it’s a new continent for me?  The unknown?  I don’t know.  I’m just hoping that once I’m there and in the moment, the fear disappears and I let it all envelope me, reminding me of why I need to plan the next trip, and the one after that, and the one after that.......

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Shoeshine Kit

Mad Men Season 6 is here.  Love it! 

Spoiler Alert – just in case you are slow off the mark like me and haven’t yet watched the first couple of episodes.
Roger Stirling is by far one of my favourite MM characters – so flawed and so vulnerable, he has had many experiences most psychologists would just eat up!  This season is no exception.  It begins with a photo shoot for the firm.  Roger is frantic about where the Shoe Shine man is and when he’ll arrive.
Later on, Roger’s secretary breaks the news that his mother has died.  She is grief stricken.  He comforts her.  “It’s okay.  She was 91 years old.  It was expected.”
The funeral comes and goes and Roger hasn’t cried.  In fact, he has a hissy fit that everyone is stealing his thunder (thanks for vomiting in the middle of the speeches Don Draper) “This is my funeral!”  His ex-wife bringing her new beau to the funeral possibly didn’t help.
We see sections of Roger on his therapist’s couch.  “I don’t feel anything.”
Then, towards the end of the episode, something I didn’t see coming.  Something poignant, endearing me even more to Roger’s character.  This time, his secretary informs Roger that the Shoe Shine man has died.  The family has sent over the shoe shine kit to Roger as he was the only person who ever asked after the dead man. 
Roger takes the kit into his office.  He opens it up and he cries.  
Meanwhile, somewhere on Park Ave, Don Draper is having sex with a married woman, still searching for an authentic experience............

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Race Car

This one is written by my six year old nephew Tommy.  We wrote it as we drove to watch his dad drive a formula one race car, as a birthday gift from his family.  It’s short, but very sweet.

My dad is learning how to drive a race car.  Sometimes race cars crash.  Race cars go very fast.

My dad is a builder.  Dad is nervous and shy about driving the race car.  I know he’s shy because he doesn’t like to talk to strangers.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quality of Life

Quality versus Quantity.  That eternal dilemma.  For me at least.  I used to lie awake at night working out my likely lifespan based on the average ages of my four grandparents.  I figured that with my relatively healthy lifestyle, I was a sure thing to reach 90.

Ninety felt like forever away and I felt content that I would have a long future ahead of me.  Plenty of time.  I still had 2/3 of my life ahead of me.  More in front than behind.  What a great position to be in.

Then I got cancer.  Regardless of whether the cancer returns, my life is more likely to be shorter than I once thought.  I wonder now that if it did come back, knowing it would be terminal as there is currently no real cure for secondary cancer, would I choose to go through treatment again. 

Would I choose to be so very sick, with no energy, sleeping most of the day, wishing it would end, in the hope that the treatment might add months, or if lucky, a year, to my life?  Or would I prefer to make the most of my time left.  Prioritising the people and the places that I’d like to spend my precious time, feeling well, at least initially.  I’d be able to enjoy food, and think clearly.  I’d be able to make more choices about what to do with my time, albeit shortened.  Short but sweet perhaps?

Not having children would help make the decision easier I think.  People want to live for their children, their family, their milestones.  I wouldn’t necessarily have that and maybe that would make my decision easier to choose quality over quantity.

One thing’s for sure, irrespective of how long I have I’m aiming for a high quality of life every single day.  Maybe you should too.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Pulp Fiction

I adore Quentin Tarantino films.  My introduction was of course that classic Pulp Fiction.  I’ve sat in the McDonald’s Restaurant in St Germaine in Paris where Quentin wrote the Royale with Cheese segment, eating a, well... royale with cheese.  It was gross.

Tarantino films are in your face and full of black humour, so it was no surprise when the audience responded with laughter when Samuel L Jackson’s character accidentally shot the kid in the back of the car in the face.  Whoops.

Bruce Willis will always be my standout favourite actor in any film that he appears in.  I’m a die-hard Die Hard fan.  His role in Pulp Fiction was no exception.  In fact, aside from the “Zed’s dead, baby.  Zed’s dead.” line, I loved the entire conversation he has with his French girlfriend about her pot belly – well, ok, I liked her side of the conversation, because I also had/have a pot belly and she made it seem cool and sexy.

I recently saw Django Unchained.  Brilliant.  On par with Pulp Fiction I think.  And that’s saying something!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Obstacles

I often talk to my clients about obstacles.  The barriers that get in the way of living a fulfilling life.  All of us have them.  Even the Dalai Lama.  Although he seems to manage his so much better than the rest of us.

When we pull out the magnifying glass in session, the types of barriers that often appear, include:

·         Fear

·         Unhelpful thoughts

·         Worries – especially ‘what ifs?’

·         Low self confidence and self esteem

·         Lack of acceptance of the things outside of our control

·         Lack of motivation

·         Health issues – mainly weight

The types of lifestyle choices that appear to be most impeded upon include:

·         Having a functioning social life

·         Quality relationships

·         Fitness

·         Fun

·         Pleasure

·         Adventure

·         Acceptance

·         Inner peace

Most people look at me strangely when I tell them we have a choice.  We sometimes choose to soothe the obstacles through avoidance and denial.  Such choices lead us away from our desired lifestyle.

If we choose to take our obstacles along for the ride though, making choices that take us in the direction of our improved quality of life, we would usually find the discomfort would only be temporary.

And then we would all live happily ever after.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Nan

Annie Isabella Gall was born on January 28th, 1914.  Daughter to Edward and Margaret Magill, she grew up on a farm in South West Victoria.  At 17 years of age she married my grandfather Albert Alfred Gall, great, great grandson of John Gall, a Scottish convict who was shipped to Australia for stealing cattle.

My beloved Nan would recount fond stories of driving the horse and cart to basketball games with her siblings, and of sleeping in a tent in the front yard of the house as there wasn’t enough room inside. 

Nan had a way of making each of her eight grandchildren feel like they were her favourite, and I was no exception.  Lucky enough to live in the same town as her, I spent much of my childhood with her, sitting at her feet, enjoying her company.

Blatant honesty was one of her traits.  “When are you going to cut that terrible hair?!” she was often exclaim as I entered her house. 

She would sign every card and letter with her signature A. I. Gall – never Nan.  I now have her signature tattooed inside my right wrist – a great source of comfort.  When she died in 2006, I was shown letters written to her by her father – all signed “Edward Magill”.  So that’s where she got it from.  It felt all the more special.

Life has not been the same since she left.  I miss her every day. 

A. I. Gall – Nan – appears throughout my memoir as I have used letters written to her throughout my cancer journey to tell my story.

I love you Nan.

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Mindfulness

"Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally." (Kabat-Zinn).
I remember the very first time I ever experienced true mindfulness.  It was at a Matchbox 20 concert at Tempus Two winery in the Hunter Valley.  The concert was outdoors in a natural amphitheatre in front of the cellar doors, luscious green lawns surrounded by row upon lovely row of grapevines.  What promise it held.  The stage was set and naturally lit by a brilliant full moon.  It was April and the weather, temperamental.   
Rob Thomas was at his fabulous best, with the audience eating out of his hand.  Long Day had just begun and the sky opened and the rain began to fall.  It fell heavily, but no-one seemed to care.  The smell in the air of rain and fresh cut grass was amazing as I, along with the other 10,000 people there that night, shed my poncho in order to feel every drop of rain on my bare arms and face, as we sang at the top of our lungs.
“It’s sitting by the overcoat,
The second shelf, the note she wrote,
That I can’t bring myself to throw away......”
Rob and the band stepped forward on the stage into the rain, completing a perfect picture that allowed all five of our senses to be engulfed by the moment.
In that ‘Long Day’ moment nothing else mattered.  We were healthy and happy.  Our families and friends were happy and healthy and as far as we knew, there had been no break out of World War III.  In that moment, we both had fabulous jobs, a lovely home and safety and security.  In that moment, singing in the rain with Rob Thomas, life was perfect.  And perfection felt good. 
That must be what people refer to as “high on life”.  I can recall that feeling that day in the rain singing Long Day so readily, it feels like I am truly back there on that day in 2004.  It reminds me that I am able to choose to feel more moments in that way, everyday.  Choosing mindfulness to cope with chemotherapy was the best choice I made.  Another opportunity to take some control back.
Mindfulness practice was most useful to me to combat the nausea I could not escape.  I firstly needed to accept that the nausea was present and given it seemed to occur exactly the same way in both cycles I had no choice in realising it was likely to reappear in cycle three.  The next part was the most difficult.  I also needed to be willing to have the nausea.  I know this sounds counterintuitive, but as it is often that struggle that intensifies the discomfort, I needed to drop the struggle.  Allow it.  Make room for it.
I began by taking a few deep breaths and mentally scanning my body from head to toe.  I was looking for the ‘loudest’ sensation to focus my attention on.  The nausea managed to occupy my entire torso, so that was easy.
Next I pretended that I was a curious scientist who had never experienced such a feeling before.  I asked myself a series of questions, answering as I went, always without judgement, keeping in mind that Hamlet quote, “There is nothing good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” 
“If I drew an outline around the sensations in my torso, what shape would it make?”
It would accurately trace the outline of every individual organ, including every centimetre of intestine.
“If I could touch the sensations, what would they feel like?  Would they feel wet or dry?  Rough or smooth? Sharp or soft?  Solid or hollow?”
They would feel wet and sticky as if covered in black tar with a certain amount of density to them, like a dense sponge.  There would be no sharp edges.
“If the sensations were a temperature, what temperature would they be?”
They would feel luke-warm to touch.
“If the sensations were a colour, what colour would they be?”
Shades of black and grey.  Very dark.
The entire time I managed to ask and answer those questions, I was sitting with the discomfort.  Accepting it.  Allowing it.  Without judgement. 
I was already noticing a slight decline in the level of nausea when I began to focus on my breath.  I imagined breathing into my organs.  Slowly breathing, deep breaths, imagining the air moving around each organ.  Making space, allowing it to simply be.  Willingly.
What a noticed was an ongoing calming of the nausea.  It de-intensified all the while I was practising mindfulness and continued to reduce, although I had to be careful not pick up the struggle again.  Simply removing that ‘edge’ from the nausea was such a relief that bought me space to cope a whole lot better.
I imagined that struggle as a big, black bottomless pit between myself and the nausea, both of us holding the end of a tug-o-war rope.  The nausea was able to pull me toward the edge of the black bottomless pit when I got caught up in all of my unhelpful thoughts about how much I hated the feeling and how I thought I couldn’t tolerate it for a minute more.  What choices did I have as I was pulled towards that fearsome pit?  Sometimes I pulled back by trying to argue with my thoughts, but then they just seemed to get louder and louder and appear more frequently, in effect pulling harder on the rope, pulling me back towards the edge of the pit.  The tug-o-war could often go on for hours.  What other options did I have?
Of course, I could simply drop the rope.  By refusing to struggle with my unhelpful thoughts or the nausea, I could no longer be influenced by them.  They could no longer pull me into that menacing pit.  Acceptance, with detachment.  Finally I experienced a real breakthrough with my nausea management and overall coping with cancer.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Liebster Award

Guess what! I've been nominated for a Liebster Award! Thank you so much Vicki Paulus, fellow blogger and breast cancer survivor, for choosing me. As fabulous as this all is, I have to admit, I'd never actually heard of the Liebster (German for favourite) award before now but it seems like a great way to get to know fellow bloggers and for them to get to know you.

The Rules are fairly simple:

1. Anyone with less than 200 followers can be nominated for The Liebster.

2. Each nominee should post eleven facts about herself or himself.

3. Each nominee should answer the eleven questions that are asked by the person doing the nominating.

4. Choose eleven new bloggers to nominate for the Award and link them in the post.

5. Create eleven new questions for your nominees.

6. Go back to their pages and tell them they've been nominated.

7. No tag backs.

And now for the fun part.....here are the nominees chosen for their thought provoking, humorous, inspiring, or creative blogs. Keep up the good work!











Here are the questions for my 11 nominees:

1. If you could experience anything again for the first time, what would it be?

2. If you could change one thing in history, what would it be?

3. How do you think the world would change from your answer to #2?

4. What's your happy song?

5. What scent are you wearing?

6. What's the most important thing you would tell your 16yo self?

7. Described your town/country in one sentence.

8. Sweet or savoury?
9. What are the five best things about women?

10. What are the five best things about men?

11. Who would play you in a movie?

These are 11 random facts about me:

1. I have a staffy named Alby.

2. I'm writing my first book.

3. My nephews bring my largest smiles and always warm my heart.

4. Travelling is firmly etched in my DNA.

5. John Gall, one of my Scottish ancestors, was sent to Australia as a convict for

stealing some cows. I'm glad it wasn't just for a loaf of bread.
6. I have the best friends and family in the world.

7. I once had a crush on a Buddhist monk.

8. I'm still adjusting to the idea that I don't have to cram a lifetime of living into a few

months after recovering from breast cancer.

9. I live near the beach. #soblessed!

10. I cannot say no to chocolate.

11. If I could meet anyone it would be the Dalai Lama.

These are the answers to the 11 questions asked of me:

1. Would you ever want to be as famous as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson or even Justin Beiber?

I don't think so. I always remember a Buddhist monk saying once "If money made us happy, surely the more money we had, the happier we would become. I have two words for you. Brittney Spears."

 2. Do you have a bucket list and if so what is #1 on the list?

Yes, I do! Many opportunities pop up on a daily basis that I think qualify for the Bucket List, but my next big ticket item is a trip to Macchu Pichu, Peru later this year. #Luckygirl.

 3. If you could pick a particular time in history to live when would it be?

Better the devil you know, I think. I'd choose right now.

 4. If you had to choose between beauty or brains which would it be?

Brains first, but there does have to be some chemistry and attraction for it to work!

 5. Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

No, but my friend Rocky Hatley has!
 6. Is writing a passion, a hobby, or how you make a living?

Currently, it is a passion.

 7. Were you ever the Homecoming King/Queen?

We don't have that in Australia and I think I might be happy about that!

 8. Who is your favorite author?

Mitch Albom springs to mind. He writes the way I'd like to.

9. Oprah or Ellen?


10. What kind of car do you drive and what color is it?

A black Holden Cruze.

11. Where do you live and would you change it if you could?

I live in South West Victoria, Australia, at the end of the Great Ocean Road and I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm always happy wherever I am.


Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kiss

"A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous."
Ingrid Bergman.

In my opinion, nothing can ever truly equal the beauty of the anticipation of the first kiss with the person you are falling in love with.

My first kiss didn't come until I was 15 years old, with my first true love.  I'm sure it was nothing like the amazing 'movie kiss' I had dreamt of over the years in the lead up, but what I can remember is the sweet anticipation.

It's been the same in every relationship I've had since - not that there have been too many!  And I have to say, the thought that I would one day get to experience that feeling again (I hope!) helped a tiny bit when my marriage ended.

Here is The Kiss by Auguste Rodin.  It's a sculpture I've been lucky to see three times now, and one of the relatively few pieces of art that has moved me.  There's something about the way she holds her head.

What are some of your favourite movie kisses or works of art depicting the delectable past-time??

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Journey

"The journey is the reward" and ain't that the truth.

I first stumbled across this saying when I was an avid Chicago Bulls/Michael Jordan fan in high school.  Phil Jackson, the coach, was somewhat of a Zen master and the notion of the journey being the reward first came to me from his mouth.

I'm sure I didn't really know what it meant at the time, but I now value it as one of life's most precious and vital lessons.  I mean, it's right up there with "Stop and smell the roses" and "Time waits for no man". 

Not to mention this gem from my brother "You've got to take a step backwards to go forward."

I remember perhaps the first time I truly understood this saying in practice.  I once worked with a young woman dying from cancer.  She told me that she would have rathered lived her final ten months with cancer the way she lived after her diagnosis, than have lived another 80 years the way she'd previously lived.

I held onto that conversation and tried to put it into practice after she died.  Going for a run when I didn't feel like exercising - telling myself I had the privilege to run when she didn't.  At times I forgot, but having my own breast cancer diagnosis firmly implanted the notion.  And you know what?  The journey really is the reward.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Infinity

How great are the Toy Story movies?!

Buzz Lightyear's "To infinity and beyond!" should be a message to all of us.

Aim high.

With so much of life, including life itself, that is finite, it's lovely for a second to consider the infinite.

William Blake once said:

"If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is - infinite."

Potential, bound only by a lifetime, exists for infinite:  hope; wisdom; love; compassion; joy; laughter; fun; ideas; possibilities; dreams.

Around my neck I wear an inifinity symbol stamped with the first initial of my family, my family before me and my nephews.   My gentle reminder of our connection, and how we all live on long after we go.

"To infinity and beyond."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Hula Hoop

I originally wanted to write H is for Hope, but I think hula hoops are a little more light hearted, don't you?

As little girls, my sister and I received Big M scented hula hoops one year.  For those non-Aussies, a Big M is a brand of flavoured milk.

True to our tastes, mine was 'chocolate' and as you can well imagine, it was brown in colour and smelled like chocolate milk.

My sister's was 'strawberry' - pink in colour and scented with, well... strawberries!

Though they were to provide hours of fun and exercise, one really must ponder, what was the purpose of the scent in the scented hula hoop?

When attempting a Google search for an image of a Big M scented hula hoop I came across many stories that started with "My sister and I......" but unfortunately, no photo that would do the 80's essential item any justice.

Who else remembers having one of these gems?  Anyone, have a banana one?

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Garcia Lorca

Federico Garcia Lorca.

One of my favourite Spanish poets.  I say that as if my knowledge of Spanish poets is broad - but it's not!

Lorca lived in my favourite city in Spain, Granada.  On my first trip to Europe, I enrolled in a Spanish school based in Granada, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada for a couple of months.  I never wanted to leave.

La Huerta de San Vicente, Lorca's Summer house and now museum, is situated in el Parque Federico Garcia Lorca in Granada.  It's surrounded by vast gardens that are accompanied by the soundtrack of running water, providing a cooling effect in the dry Summer heat.

I would spend my afternoons sitting on the park bench in the photo above, in Lorca's courtyard, practicing my Spanish and doing my homework.  It made me feel close to his spirit and connected to Spain in some way.  My great uncle James, a proud Scotsman, died in the Spanish Civil War, fighting against Franco's regime.

On August 19th, 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, Lorca was shot and killed after being arrested three days prior.  Some say he was murdered for his political views and the voice he had as a part of the Generation of '27.  His remains have never been found.

This is one of my favourite Lorca poems.  It's only the first part, about the gouging of a bullfighter, Ignacio Sanchez Mejias, by the bull.  He subsequently died.

Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias

1. Cogida and death

At five in the afternoon.
It was exactly five in the afternoon.
A boy brought the white sheet
at five in the afternoon.
A frail of lime ready prepared
at five in the afternoon.
The rest was death, and death alone.

The wind carried away the cottonwool
at five in the afternoon.
And the oxide scattered crystal and nickel
at five in the afternoon.
Now the dove and the leopard wrestle
at five in the afternoon.
And a thigh with a desolated horn
at five in the afternoon.
The bass-string struck up
at five in the afternoon.
Arsenic bells and smoke
at five in the afternoon.
Groups of silence in the corners
at five in the afternoon.
And the bull alone with a high heart!
At five in the afternoon.
When the sweat of snow was coming
at five in the afternoon,
when the bull ring was covered with iodine
at five in the afternoon.
Death laid eggs in the wound
at five in the afternoon.
At five in the afternoon.
At five o'clock in the afternoon.

A coffin on wheels is his bed
at five in the afternoon.
Bones and flutes resound in his ears
at five in the afternoon.
Now the bull was bellowing through his forehead
at five in the afternoon.
The room was iridiscent with agony
at five in the afternoon.
In the distance the gangrene now comes
at five in the afternoon.
Horn of the lily through green groins
at five in the afternoon.
The wounds were burning like suns
at five in the afternoon.
At five in the afternoon.
Ah, that fatal five in the afternoon!
It was five by all the clocks!
It was five in the shade of the afternoon!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Fabulous Forty

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and told that I would definitely be losing my Leonian mane, I began estimating how many months it would take for me to look 'normal' again.

Hair became synonomous with life and for a while there, the words could have been used interchangeably.  Hair apparently grows on average 1cm per month.  With tape measure in hand, I estimated that my post cancer hair would begin to provide a healthy appearance around the time of my fortieth birthday.

Turning 40 would not be a midlife crisis for me.  Instead, it became a fabulous coming of age.  A celebration of life.

In fact, having cancer changes your entire relationship with your body.  Instead of worrying about the ageing process, fussing over fine lines and new wrinkles, you become grateful for the opportunity to grow older.

I no longer obsess over the size of my tummy or thighs, instead, feeling a level of acceptance I would never have thought possible.

Don't get me wrong.  It's not about no longer caring, or letting myself go.  It's more a practice in self compassion, ensuring the balance is in favour of the positive self talk, instead of the negative - something I think we should all learn to do!  Life as they say, is too short.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for ESPANA

After living in Spain between 1999 and 2002, I developed a fondness for many, many things.  Here is a list of the things I miss most about living in Spain:

1.     Speaking Spanish every day.
2.     My Spanish family
3.     Afternoon siestas
4.     Living outdoors most of the year
5.     Our country house
6.     Picking fresh tomatoes at the country house and eating them - salt shaker in pocket
7.     The BBQ at the country house - paella and chorizo in particular
8.     Mama's sopa de marisco
9.     The daily bakery trip to buy bread
10.   Churros Sunday mornings
11.   The sun
12.   Granada
13.   Being regularly told "Que ojos mas bonitos"
14.   The Spanish way of life
15.   The proximity to the rest of Europe
16.   Having 3 months off over Summer
17.   Magdelena's for breakfast
18.   Reality television shows - they taught me my 'street' Spanish
19.   Real tapas
20.   The large billboards of el toro on the sides of the highways

Viva Espana!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Darling

Last September Fi and I attended a breast cancer conference in Sydney.  Both of us as breast cancer survivors have truly embraced the notion of self care and 'self reward' and as such, we elected to stay at The Darling on Darling Harbour.

What a treat!  Decadence lined the walls from the art work, to the remote control block out curtains, the walk in shower room, to the top shelf mini bar and coffee machine! 

The decor was simply, well.... darling, perfection in fact, with daily changing flower arrangements that were nothing short of works of art.

Right next to the hotel was Adriano Zumbo's dessert train cafe, a part of the Star Casino complex.  Scrumptious!

The night of our conference dinner, as we danced the night away to a female Elvis inpersonator, Ronan Keating played a concert in the foyer of our hotel.  We missed him, but the thrill of knowing he was playing in "our" Darling was satisfaction enough.

We simply can't wait for the next excuse to go back! 

Thank you Darling.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Counting Penguins

Ever since seeing the March of the Penguins and Happy Feet, I have dreamt of travelling to some exotic and cold location to observe these gorgeous, majestic creatures in action.  The truth is, I wouldn't have had to travel far.  Phillip Island, home to the Fairy Penguin, is only a few short hours drive away.  Yet, it has never been on my way to anywhere and the trip has never been prioritised.

Imagine my delight, when one hot Summer's Day in early January this year, I received a text message from my new neighbour Al. 

"We're short of penguin counters tonight and I thought it would be right up your alley. x"

Attached was a link to the Middle Island Marrema Project that in the name of protecting our local population of Little Penguins, had placed guardian dogs on the island.  Every month the council organise a group of volunteers to wade across to the island, sit until the sun goes down and then begin counting the penguins as they come in from the ocean to sleep for the night.  One hour counts down from the first penguin sighting.

What a fantastic opportunity, I thought as I enlisted the help of my cousin Fi.  It was right up her alley too.  Middle island is literally a 15 minute walk from my house!  My own penguin parade in my very own backyard.

We waded across to the island in waist deep water (it was neck deep on the way back!), dried off, changed clothes and sat in pairs, scattered all over the island in silence.

Fi and I counted 8 penguins that night, but there were 99 in total.

It was a dream come true watching them behave in such humanistic ways - waiting for one another, pairing off, relaxing and singing after a hard day at work.

One of the most amazing experiences of my forty years, I felt truly blessed to be handed such an opportunity.  Life sure is beautiful.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for the BOSS - Bruce Springsteen

Like EVERYONE in my generation, I grew up listening to the Boss.  Born in the USA had me wishing I was born, well, in the USA!

Pulling Courtney Cox up on stage for Dancing in the Dark first introduced us to our new neurotic Friend, but also had us worshipping Bruce once more.

The hits were endless and you don't need me to list them all here, but let me just mention one more - Streets of Philadephia - what a song!  What a movie...... I digress.

Despite knowing all of the lyrics to his biggest hits, in my 40 years on this planet, I have never purchased a single Bruce Springsteen record/cd/itune.

I admit when tickets went on sale for his 2013 Wrecking Ball tour in Australia, I briefly considered buying a ticket, as seeing Bruce Springsteen perform live now meets criteria for the Bucket List.  However, finances, other travel, other concerts, lack of time made my decision for me and no tickets were purchased.

When my friend Rik purchased two brilliant tickets late in the game, handing one to me, I was still fairly nonplussed about going.  We arrived and had dinner before moseying on in.

At 7.50pm the E Street Band came on stage and there he was.  Bruce Springsteen.  I was literally moved to tears by his presence and can honestly say I have never been so present, so alive and so entertained by anyone in my entire life.  Thanks Bruce.  You seem as happy as the Dalai Lama.  Three hours straight of GREATNESS.

As a quick aside - my friend Michelle got to hold his hand while he sang one song.  She's his biggest fan, so imagine how she felt! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Art Gallery

A is also for Arlee Bird who founded the A-Z challenge - THANKS ARLEE!

Art is not necessarily my area of expertise.  But as with wine, I may not know exactly what I'm talking about, but I do know what I like.

Upon reflection, I have had the pleasure and great privilege to have spent hours perusing some of the world's most famous and recognisable art galleries and museums, and along with them, the fabulous and often historic pieces that grace their walls.

I've visited Velazquez's Menina's at El Prado in  Madrid.  So taken was I by la infanta Margarita, that I now have a little statue of her on my fridge.

The extensive corridors of the Louvre have been visited on many occasions, always with the same destinations in mind, Mona and Venus in particular.

The Burghers of Callais at Museo de Rodin moved me to tears and the enormity of Picasso's Guernica at the Reina Sofia in Madrid both impressed and overwhelmed.

I've been to the MoMA and the MET, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and the Vatican Museum to gaze at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Here's the proof.

 Yes.  It's all so cliched.  But here is my point.  I've been lucky enough to travel and see a little bit of the world, but I have not once ever passed through the doors of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Victoria - my home state.  Shame on me.

I hereby declare my intent to rectify that situation today, April 1st, 2013.  Who knows what treasures have been right under my nose all this time.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...