Thursday, January 28, 2016

Don't judge a book by its cover

This is what I think of all the judging!

Ok so I have got my ranty tanty pants on.  I am sick of it, completely and totally over it! The judgement that is.  I have written about judgey mcjudgey before on here and you know what I am still done with it!  Straight up I am going to say that I am as guilty as anyone of judging but I try very hard to not do it and to live and let live.  Honestly, unless someone else's actions are going to impact me or my family directly or put a child in harm's way (or an animal) then seriously I just don't know that it is my place to judge.

Looking at Facebook for me is a great way to quickly catch up to speed on what I have been doing and saying over the last few days.  Your activity log has a wealth of information that only you can see, if you have ever thought you did/said something or liked something and weren't sure check it out there, it is great.  I check it every day.  Yesterday all over the news feed was this letter from the Head of a school in the UK asking parents to re-think their dress when coming into the school for assemblies and meetings.  Now of course I had something to say about this.  

We are super lucky at our school we have a kiss and drop zone (though some parents forget it is drop then drive off but that is a different rant for another day! - and yes when you don't drop and drive off and hold up all the traffic I am going to judge!) This really means I could if I so chose to jump into the car drive the kids up to school and drive home and roll back into my bed all without getting dressed.  Of course there are a couple of issues with this currently the main one being I don't have a drivers licence so the rest of this applies in the before or in a theoretical sense.  

It would seem that Kerri Sackville (love her if you don't read her writing it is time to look her up!) shared the same article and there were some interesting replies.  They varied from the silly and funny, to the serious reasons for not being able to get dressed to the Judgey McJudgey.  

I have included a variety of them here for you to read: 

Unless the house was on fire in the middle of the night, I would never wear PJs outside. I cannot understand how these people justify wearing their night attire to school assembly. The notion of public wear and private wear should be pretty clear by the time you're about 3 years old.

Ummm what about swimming costumes? in particular, bikinis? I live in Qld. I have a pool. I jump out of the pool, grab a towel and literally get into the car to pick up the kid. Also, some days, I take him in my pyjamas and pick him up in my pyjamas and if anyone is going to complain that I am still in my pyjamas at 3pm my generic response is, "Sure, I'll start dressing to your standards when you find me a cure for Parkinson's."

I agree. I just couldn't bring myself to wear my PJs, or even tracksuit pants, in public. Two of my kids are also twins and even during the newborn stage I got dressed for school drop off!

I don't think I ever got out of the car in pjs. That's why it's called 'drop off' ... And flannies are very comfortable. It's not about a schedule. It about comfort, esp in winter. It's like people who wear Lycra. They're comfortable wearing that or jegggings etc. I couldn't care what other people wear. It's their business. Not mine.

That's just plain laziness to leave your home in Pjs. No respectful person would do that!
I have never left the house in pyjamas, & nor do I ever intend to. I'm one of those annoying people who think wearing shoes when you're out is a good thing too.

Thank god it's not a note about wearing underwear on school dropoffs #serialoffender

The thing for me is that I am coming from a very different position in the now to the before.  In the now life is pretty confusing for me first thing in the morning.  It takes me a while to get my head around what is going.  Frankly if I need to drive the kids up to school in my PJs I will.  I might pull a jumper over the top but honestly most of the time there isn't a whole lot of difference between my PJs and my day wear.  The biggest difference would probably be that my hair is brushed and so are my teeth and I have shoes on.  That said in the before I am pretty certain I wouldn't care what you wore to school and if I did notice and it was out of the ordinary for you I would maybe ask if there was something going on and could I help somehow, and if it was normal more power to you I wish I could care less about what other's think! 

Though some days that isn't a guarantee I have been known to jump into the car with slippers on thinking there were shoes in there only to discover on arrival there are no shoes, so slippers it was that day (and that was at work!)  Equally I once jumped in the car and did not notice that my thong fell off as I got in until I got to the shops.  As I had spent 10mins getting the twins and #1 in the car I was going into the shops for what I needed barefoot.  Judge me if you like but frankly some days it is just like that.  

Mrs Woog (another amazing writer for you to check out) shared this great op ed piece about the letter from the school and the responses were varied here is another sample: 

I agree with the letter the prinipal has sent out. I think it's really sloppy and lazy to wear your pj's to drop your child off at school...the principal even said some parents would turn up to assemblies and meetings with teachers in their pj's. How innapropriate. And embarrassing. Its also teaching your kids to not put in the effort when they go out and about and to not have pride in their appearance. I definitely dont look like princess mary when I drop my kids off and no one else should either- but c'mon. Pj's to assemblies and meetings with the teacher? Tacky tacky tacky.

There's a time and place for everything.We encourage our kids to wear clean uniforms and be proud of their school so why not the adults dropping them off?Get up 10 minutes earlier and throw on jeans n a top and change into pjs when you get home.

Bring back the 90s when we were allowed to wear petticoats as clothing without receiving warning letters. Bring back the 80s when a wider variety of body images were acceptable. Bring back less of whatever this is. If someone thinks there pjs are cool and awesome and they want to wear them, then go for it. If they want to wear a cape then go for it. What wear in their own time is none of my business.

Nah, I've picked kids up from work in pjs many times. And *may* have ventured to Coles on more than one occasion in my "good" pjs.As long as the kids are fed, clothed, LOVED and actually sent to school, it's nobody's business how anyone else dresses. More kindness & tolerance and less judgment would be a great thing. We don't always know what's going on in someone else's life.

That brings me to another brilliant article I read today by Anna Spargo-Ryan about why she could speak up about mental illness (in her case) but really it could easily be applied to any invisible illness.  Anna is very open about her long-term struggle with mental illness but she says she can do this because of the privilege of her position in society.  She is fortunate to be in a dual income household and has the support of loving family and friends.  Anna works for herself these days so she does not need to disclose her illness to any employer but when she did, Anna had an awesome response where they recognised that she was more than her illness and did everything to keep her and work with her.  

Over the last 12mths I have been on a road to discovery of my own mental illness issues.  Like Anna I have also been incredibly fortunate to be able to do this from the position of having an incredible support network around me and whilst we are not a dual income anymore we are fortunate that we can make what we get stretch to cover our outgoings.  And like Anna I hide my illness from everyone including myself.  You would not know looking at me how I am feeling inside and that some days it is everything I have in me just to hold it together to be here.  You can never, ever know what is going on inside (be it a mental illness or a neurological illness or anything) just by looking at someone - always remember "don't judge a book by its cover".  I am not nearly even close to being in a place where I will need to disclose this to a prospective employer or employer.  Too be honest it is so far away I am not worrying about it (which makes a huge change for me!) 

You are probably thinking "Cath you have really lost it this time - how can you link these stories?"  Easily really and it isn't a huge stretch.  Schools are judging parents and lots of other parents for not wearing "appropriate attire" into school for assemblies and meetings.  Honestly, in my experience when I was teaching sometimes just the very fact that the parent showed up for the meeting or assembly is a big deal.  There are plenty of parents who can't be there (but want to more than anything!) for any number of reasons, there are parents who turn up dressed to the nines just so that everyone notices them and there are parents in between.

Has anyone when making these huge judgements about "they should take more care in their appearance," "get off Facebook and get dressed," "set a better example for your kids," ever actually stopped to think what might be going on in the life of someone else.  Seriously, we can never really know what is happening in someone else's life.  We will only ever know how much someone wants us to.  But the person judging about people not caring about their appearance might not know that at home mum and dad are dealing with a terminally ill child and they honestly don't get five minutes to themselves to get dressed before racing everyone out of the door to get to school on time.  The alternative is that they do take that time but by then their terminally ill child needs more attention and before you know it they have been up since 4am and it's lunch time and the other kids haven't made it to school yet again.  So in that instance is it not better that mum or dad just comes as they are rather than not at all?  

In my instance that five extra minutes I spend on Facebook instead of worrying about how I look could mean that I can actually hold a conversation with you in the playground instead of looking great (or real in fact just mildly presentable.) Then I hide up the back hoping you won't notice me because I have forgotten your name and other things we have in common because I spent the time doing my hair and getting dressed instead of working out who people are.  

It never fails to amaze me how people love to say set a better example.  How about this, someone battling a silent or invisible illness (to you) is setting an amazing example for their children.  They are showing them that no matter what, regardless of how hard it is and how much you don't feel like keeping on going you keep pushing through.  No-one would dare walk up to a parent in the playground who might be quite obviously battling say cancer or in a wheelchair or something very visible and say oh why don't you put a bit more effort in to set a better example for the kids, they say things like "isn't it great you could make it!"  And they truly honestly mean it and don't even look at what they are wearing!  However, when it is something people can't see or don't understand the judgement comes in more.  Honestly, I know people have said to me you are looking great.  Sure on the outside but don't probe too deeply I am likely to crumble like kinetic sand or melt away quickly like the wicked witch right before your eyes.  

Next time you are tempted to judge someone on their outward appearance, stop, think and maybe just accept that it might not be what you would do but they are doing the very best they can.  We really need to stop judging each other and start empathising more honestly you will be happier for it.  Maybe I have given you something to think about.  

Here's a funny story about me back in the late '80s-early 90s I loved both my footy and going out dancing.  It was never appropriate for me to wear what I wore to the footy to the nightclub (I mean of course I could but seriously as if I would lol!) so I would take my red slip with me to change in the carpark at the footy and pop on my heels and go out for a night of dancing.  The thing is my ruby red slip was a nightie!  It was sold as lingerie but honestly it was too pretty for that!  More recently I had a wedding to go to when my twins were about 4mths old I felt frumpy as you can imagine so my mum took my shopping for a nice dress to wear.  Guess what we found a beautiful Lisa Ho slip dress that in all seriousness looks like lingerie!  Perhaps I was just a girl before her time.  

Cathy xoxo 

Video - Boys Don't Cry - The Cure 

All the dumb things ...

Image credit:

Given that I love my footy (NRL) always have, always will.  It would be remiss of me to not share my thoughts about the Mitchell Pearce incident.  

First I want to make this abundantly clear I UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CONDONE his actions at all.  Second I had a very quick viewing of the video and yes it is stupid but it is not nearly as bad as I was expecting to be honest!  

In all seriousness though this is not the first time a player of whatever football code has done something dumb and it won't be the last.  Sure I agree with Andrew Moore ABC Grandstand Commentator  when he says that the sport has been tarnished again.  "I'm sick to death of idiotic drunken bums ruining the reputation of this great sport, year in, year out."

As someone who has been around footballers most of my life I have to wonder what has changed.  I am not saying that they haven't always done dumb things they have.  I am not going to pretend that the players that I knew and associated with were perfect little angels, in fact, that really in many respects couldn't be further from the truth.  I honestly believe there are two factors that have potentially contributed to the increase of why we see more of it in the media though: 

1.  Super League - How has Super League contributed you might ask.  Because it brought money and HUGE money to the game but not just to the game to the players themselves directly.  Many will argue this is bad thing.  I will argue that it is a good thing.  Sportsmen and women have a very short lifespan to earn money in their chosen profession.  In fact many of them cannot make a professional living out of their sport but that is an argument for another day.  

Many people would argue that the court jester is getting paid the big $$, they don't take it seriously and don't appreciate how fortunate they are to be able to do the one thing they love, have a talent for and get paid for it.  There are plenty of men and women who play their sports on the weekend and play for the love of it.  They would love to be paid but they have to make a living elsewhere.  So why don't these players appreciate the gift of money that they have?  

Most likely because the players who make it to the elite level have grown up their entire lives being told they are fantastic!  You don't get to the elite levels and get paid the big bucks without a little bit of an ego.  They don't realise it is a gift because the players playing now this is how it has always been.  There has always been big $$ around the game, in fact I would argue many of the top grade players now would be lucky to even remember Super League let alone the time where players played the game for the love of it with a small amount in the pocket at the end of the game.  

Rugby League only became a truly professional sport in the sense of players being paid huge money in the mid-late 90's with the Super League Wars and then the reunification of the game.  Players were then paid big $$ to become professional sportsmen overnight.  This meant that they went from having part-time jobs and trying to play full-time football including full-time training to not needing to have to hold down the part-time job.  This in my opinion also meant that they lost that sense of "down to earthiness" and gained a sense of entitlement almost overnight.  

In addition to this we rapidly had a group of largely young men with no real life experience, many still living at home, with a real sense of hero worship around them (especially with the girls - honestly the stories I could tell!), and all of a sudden they had lots of money and lots of time!  Clubs were very slow to respond to the fact that players had lots of time on their hands and lots of money to spend in that time.  This meant that in the early years players sat around a lot and drank or carried on like clowns A LOT! 

There was a time when I had a Football Manager (still prominent in the game) who would ring me at work to ask about things at home and give me an update of the backyard cricket game that was taking place in my backyard.  Or the time I had a call at work from a player how could they get their ball back when our next door neighbour had just appeared at the fence with an axe in the middle of the day because they had the music up and the ball went over the fence!  I suggested just get a new ball much easier.  Sure these are tame incidents but I am in no way going to dish the dirt on players I knew, know and love for the people they are not what they did for a living.  

Footballers have always done dumb things, and in part it is how we react to those dumb things that will determine whether or not they learn from their actions/punishment and try to redeem themselves.  Or whether they ultimately think it is funny and just can't work out where the line is and continually cross it.  It also has a lot to do with the people you surround yourselves with.  

Some clubs have worked out that players need to do more than spend time in the gym, training, doing strength/conditioning and doing PR events for the clubs.  They try to engage the players in some form of education to give them something for the end of their careers.  Let's face it there can only ever be so many ex players as commentators.  This of course doesn't ever change the people that they surround themselves with. 

We know through research that young men's brains are not fully formed until they are at least 25 years old, we also know that this is the part of the brain that helps us to moderate behaviours especially risk taking activities.  We also know that repeated concussions even "silent concussions" where there are no apparent indicators of a concussion do damage to the brain.  We also know that repeated exposure of alcohol to the brain also has long term impacts for everyone, we just don't know what each individual person's limits are.  Now combine a brain that is still developing, with ongoing regular concussions and regular intake of alcohol and we have reduced ability to find the line that we shouldn't cross.  This in no way excuses the behaviour of any player or person who makes a bad choice but it may help us to understand these behaviours and in turn clubs/families better support these young men to avoid this happening in the first place.  So what is the second factor?

2.  The rise of smart phones.  I believe has had a HUGE impact on why we hear so much more about these players and the stupid antics they get up to.  

Honestly, there are players I know who have exposed themselves in public, this was dealt with in house, the people involved embarrassed the player rather than the other way around.  I know players who have walked off the ground uninjured only to fall out of the back of a ute to injure themselves again, other players who have broken bones after games have happened through drinking accidents.  I also know players who want nothing more than to go out and have a drink with their mates and to be left alone, only to have young women with very little respect for themselves throwing themselves over and over and over again at these players.  Many of the stories I could tell are of young men who have gone on to be extremely successful still in their chosen sporting fields or as businessmen, or doing really good things for the community.  These men if these stories had hit the media then could have ruined their careers (as they have done for many players in today's era Todd Carney, Joel Monaghan et al) and they would then not had the opportunity to redeem themselves and go on and do great things. 

There are so many more stories that I could tell and I could name, names but I won't because frankly it isn't relevant.  Add to that I was trusted by these men to keep their confidences.  However, there were also no smart phones around.  No-one took photos of everything we did every moment of the day.  I love my iPhone as much as the next person, I would even go so far as to say I have an anxiety attack if I don't know where it is but we do not need to take photos of every minute of every day.  We especially do not need to video "pseudo famous" people doing dumb things with a view to humiliate them or maybe even to make a quick buck.  I have heard reports that the owner of the video has earnt upwards of 60k for the sale of the video.  In recent times we see every mistake, drunken antic of every person but perhaps we just don't need to.  Perhaps Mitchell Pearce's mates would have been better served taking him home much earlier.  Who knows.  

Certainly and without a doubt Mitchell Pearce was an idiot and did dumb things on Australia Day, at a private party!  But did he consent to being videoed?  Do people have the right to video people doing stupid things without their consent?  Even more than that do they have the right to then on sell that footage?  What I don't understand (and never will really) is why do people stand around and video people (famous or not) doing really dumb things, in really drunken states, clearly unable to make any appropriate choices but rather than help them we stand around and video and watch in a voyeuristic manner to get a laugh out of other people's misfortune or to make a quick buck from someone who is famous doing dumb things!

Please do not get me wrong I again reiterate I in NO WAY CONDONE Mitchell Pearce's actions at this party.  He has made some appalling decisions the first being to drink a lot of alcohol and the rest flowing from there.  But should these decisions ruin his career and future?  Would he be better served being put into some form of alcohol rehab program to assist him to see why he has an issue with alcohol?  

Lastly, I would say that we as parents of children who potentially look up to sportsmen and women as role models, maybe we are also just a little bit to blame.  Maybe we should find other role models for our children, maybe we as parents should be their role models, maybe we should use these incidents as learning opportunities for our kids to show how stupid we can look when we drink alcohol.  

What I do think is that whilst ever we have a tall poppy problem in Australia and I honestly think we do have a big tall poppy problem, we will forever hear about the stupid antics of stupid sportsmen and women who surround themselves by people who won't look after them when they need them most.  

I also believe that footballers (of any code) and the drinking culture that surrounds most sport (and aspects) of the Australian way of life are really a microcosm of the wider society at large.  I think if we looked just below the surface of our young people we would find lots and lots of young men drinking to this state and doing these lewd acts every weekend.  Which is a big part of the problem.  I don't believe that it should be only up to footballers to fix this in society.  We as a nation need to accept that we have an issue with alcohol! 

How about we start looking for the good that players do (because even the ones who do dumb things do good things!) and stop looking for the dumb in everything.  I heard recently of a young player who had a childhood condition that he has been able to overcome and go on to play AFL at an elite level as was his childhood dream.  It was brought to his attention that there was a young boy (that he had never met and didn't know!) who had recently been diagnosed with the same illness and was about to be confined to a wheelchair.  The player reached out in a very personal way to this young boy and gave him some hope from his personal story.  How about we look for more of that and the media stop reporting on the rubbish.  Maybe if we start looking for the good and stop talking about the bad they might start wanting good publicity so will try to earn it.  We know the dumb happens and splashing it all over every paper and news broadcast for a week won't change that.  

As far as punishment goes.  I believe strongly that Mitchell Pearce should be held accountable for these actions regardless of how they have become public.  I think a 12mth ban out of the sport that included some drug and alcohol rehab.  He should also have to undertake some sort of volunteer work in and around alcohol abuse and the impact it can have on families.  I would also like to see him giving back to juniors in the game in some sort of closely supervised coaching roles.  The punishment needs to be a deterrent but it should also be a learning opportunity for Mitchell, the club, the league and perhaps even other players. 

Regarding the media I would love them to simply stop reporting, if they get this information by all means hand it to the clubs, their employers to handle but really aren't we all just a little bit over hearing or reading about another badly behaved footballer whatever the code?  

Someone said to me today that I am too nice and too forgiving.  I don't really think I am but I do know that there are young men and women doing dumb things like this all over the place and if they didn't get 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even 5th chances they wouldn't get the opportunity to go on and do some amazing things.  I know this for fact that if many of the young men I know from back in the day were rubbed out like some are these days they wouldn't have gone on and done some of the amazing things they have and that would have been a bigger shame.  

"Today's news will always become tomorrow's chip wrapper eventually!"  

Video:  Paul Kelly & the Coloured Girls - Dumb Things 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

School Reunions ...

to go or not to go? ... that is the question!

Recently I got an invite to attend my Year 10, 30 year School Reunion.  We had a small reunion five years ago and the girl who organised it put in a huge amount of work and I am not sure she got a huge amount of thanks for it!  So Kelly I would like to say thanks in case no-one did at the time.  I remember that organising this had more than a few dramas for Kelly but mostly it was a pretty good night.  

Anyway, a different Kelly has decided that she is going to try to rustle up a group for a reunion.  30 years since doing year 10 that sounds like a lifetime ago and it was.  So much has happened since then in all of our lives and I am sure that many of us are very different people to who we were in high school, though many really haven't changed all that much at all.  I went to an all girls high school and we had a huge school there was over 1000 girls at it's peak when I was there.  So as you can imagine our year group had every clique under the sun, the nerds, the toughies, the pretty girls, the dags, the sporty, the girls that all had boyfriends and so many more!  

I remember at the last reunion there was that group of friends who were still all incredibly tight.  They have remained in touch since high school in fact so much so that a few of them have married each other's brother's so they are now not only friends but sister in laws too.  It really isn't and hasn't been like that since leaving school for me.  I left school with very few close friends, most of my friends now are from very different circles.  I have left the area I grew up in, though many of the people from both of the schools I attended are still living there (clearly they were much more organised than me and bought homes much earlier than I did because at 30 when I was looking that area was well out of my price range!) 

I went to a number of high school's growing up.  My first one was in Fiji and was the International School with all the other expat kids I did my first year of high school there. Due to my age (I was only 11 turning 12) on return to Sydney I couldn't be placed into year 8 even though academically it would have been fine.  Hindsight probably says that I should have actually gone right back to year 6 to have that awkward resettlement year in primary school where kids are still that little bit more forgiving rather than try to do it in year 7.  Either that or perhaps stayed in Fiji a little bit longer.  

I don't really have the fondest memories of high school in Australia at either of the schools I went to but somehow I made it through - I wouldn't say it was unscathed though.  In years 7-10 I felt like I was the odd one out.  Everyone else had that really close group of friends and I always felt that I was trying to hard to be included in a group and whilst I had friends I would say that I floated between a few different groups.  Not necessarily by choice but more by where I was feeling more accepted on any given day.  Things didn't improve a whole lot when I changed schools for years 11-12 (again I am not sure that was a great idea changing from an all girls school to a co-ed school at 15 when I was just discovering boys!) 

It's hard to describe my high school years without feeling quite sad, I always felt incredibly left out and for the majority of year 7 I read books in the library at lunchtime so that I didn't look like a "Nigel No Mates" in the playground.  Towards the end of the year slowly I was accepted into a group and was "assimilated into the borg" that is teenage girls!  It didn't help that I was bored in class because I had done the work but it was evidently clear that if I was smart there was little to no chance ever of assimilation.  So this set up the never ending conflict between my parents and teachers on one side who knew I had far more ability than I was using and my desire to be accepted and assimilate which meant being a lot dumber because no-one liked the smart kid - all of this added to the fact I was only 11 and I really just didn't understand the social structure of how a girls high school worked. My previous experience of high school in Fiji was that everyone was friendly because everyone was new and everyone had left their friends behind from wherever they had come from so everyone was as equally lonely so wanted friends.  Plus I am talking 1981-83 so no internet and pretty much a 6week turnaround in letters to Australia!  Being an expat these days I think would be a very different experience.  

This however, was not the case at the Girls High School when I got back to Australia. There was a most definite pecking order and this was not determined by the smart girls (or even the pretty girls) but by the tough crowd.  Today my experience of high school would be described as bullying but back in the early 80's it really was very much a suck it up princess and take a cup of concrete scenario.  I would probably say that somewhere in-between is probably a better solution.  Kids can't be expected to be liked all the time by everyone but it is very, very lonely having no-one to turn to at school.  

So all of this brings me back to the talk of the 30 year reunion.  I was incredibly nervous attending the reunion 5 years ago and 5 years ago things actually weren't too bad in my life.  I mean I was no world beater, but I had completed my degree, I had 3 healthy kids, I was (still am to the same guy lol)  married and we had (still have) a nice home in the Illawarra.  It was nothing to get excited about, I hadn't done anything amazing like invent post-its* or anything like that but it was nothing at all to be ashamed of.  As I said I was very nervous about going that night so somehow I managed to arrange with one of the girls that I was friendly with at school but hadn't seen well pretty since school that I would pick her up and drive.  At least that way I wasn't walking in alone.  As I expected when walking in the room I felt just like I was back at school.  You could tell the girls that were still incredibly close in fact this was probably just a normal Saturday night for them which also meant that they really weren't interested in catching up with anyone else.  There were others who also kept in touch but not quite as regularly as the first group and then there were a few like me coming along to say hi to whoever might be there and hadn't really kept in touch with anyone since school.  The other big issue for me was that none of the girls that I had "hung" with at school came along.  This in part was because they are all still super close and had no interest in seeing anyone else.  So in an instant I was 40 years old being transported back to the year 7 playground 11years old with no-one to talk to.  In fact so much so it took three attempts before I could actually find a seat each time I went to sit down I was told that seat was being saved for x.  Nothing like being made to feel welcome. 

Between then and now I would say my life has turned pretty much upside down and to crap!  If I was concerned about not looking or appearing successful 5 years ago when at least on the outside I had it mostly together, oh boy how will I even pull off an appearance of having it together this time!  Particularly with the spectacular breakdown that has occurred over the last 12mths there are some things that are just a little bit hard to hide, like the walking stick or the fact my licence has been revoked on medical grounds, or the panic attacks that come from nowhere and can be debilitating to name a few. What do I say? Do I be honest fess up and say well the truth is that basically I have had depression and anxiety in some form or another since you were mean to me in high school.  Sure the high school stuff was a long, long time ago but it was the beginning.  It was where I taught myself coping mechanisms so that I would be accepted (possibly not liked but accepted was better than years in the library lonely!) 

It is hard enough writing a blog and knowing that when I put something out there I really don't know who will read it.  So there is an element of vulnerability already there, what if I walk into the room and find out people have actually read it?  How will that feel?  I mean it is one thing knowing that a few close friends read it, and sure I know some of the people who read my ramblings in real life but most I don't.  Also, even the ones that I might know who are reading my ramblings I don't see them every day so I am able to kid myself that it is ok.  

What if I go and they haven't read my blog (because even though I don't want them to it would be easier) and they ask how's things?  It is about 6mths away so in reality I could be significantly better by then but what if I'm not?  What do I say?  Oh I had a mental breakdown and I can't work anymore and I can't drive and basically I can't do very much at all!  Do people really want that honesty at a reunion?  Probably not.  

Then of course there is that part of me that says well most of these girls didn't like me at school and I really haven't kept in touch with many people from school, probably only a handful now thanks to FaceBook.  So will it be any different this time?  It clearly wasn't at the 25 year reunion so is it likely to be much different 5 years later?  

What if I go and have a big panic attack because you know I will already be feeling vulnerable walking in the door and that isn't likely to help in anyway at all and will sure bring attention my way. Though that won't be the type of attention I will want!  What if they see that I am just a big fraud and I am really just like a big lump of kinetic sand and I can hold it all together on the surface but squeeze too tight or push too hard and I will just fall apart.  That won't really be the look I will be going for!  Then of course there will be the ridiculous paranoia that will set in that they will all talk about me behind my back after the night.  Which in itself is even more ridiculous because honestly why would they!  They didn't care enough to be my friend or talk about me 30 years ago so why would they now!

FOMO - this is a huge one, I missed the 25 year get together for the school I attended for years 11-12 I had ummmed and ahhhed about attending right up to the very last minute and in the end completely chickened out.  Then I saw the photos of the people who went and how much fun they had and how much I had wished I had gone.  So will I have a big case of FOMO (fear of missing out) if I don't go?  

Lastly it is just fear!  Fear that because things aren't nearly as together as they were 5 years ago they will judge me.  Fear that they will ignore me like they did 5 years ago and 30 years ago at school.  Fear of everything really (including fear that some of them will read this!) 

I don't want pity from anyone or people to say of course we will talk to you etc.  A lot of this is just the random thoughts running through my head.  I would also argue though that these are quite likely the random thoughts that could be running through a lot of the other girls I went to school with (or even yours if you are invited to a reunion) and sometimes it helps to know you are not alone!  The other thing of course is that in the last five years Facebook has really exploded.  Many people were on Facebook but not really into it in 2011 (it had only really been around for four years then,) but now days anyone I want to keep in touch with from school I can through the beauty of Facebook.  Plus what do you actually talk about at the reunion if you know what they are up to because of Facebook.

There is a part of me that wants to go, there have been a number of girls from school who have followed my journey and have been incredibly supportive in the last 12mths so it would be nice to see them.  There is also the big scared cat part of me that says just stay at home put your Pj's on, hire your favourite movie, get a tub of ice cream and forget all about it.  Maybe I suggest we do a Facebook reunion and all stay at home in our Pj's, watching the same movie eating ice-cream and chatting online about "the good old days".   Ultimately I just won't know until much closer to the time just how strong I am doing mentally and physically.  In the meantime I will continue to work myself up into a little school reunion anxiety ball right up until the day.  

Did you go to any of your school reunions?  

In 1986 we somehow managed to convince our teachers to allow JGHS
to team up with JBHS and enter into the 2SM Rock Eisteddfod this was the song!

*  Romy & Michele's High School Reunion

hugsCathy xoxo 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

15yrs ago ...

Today I marry
my best friend
my lover 
my everything.  

These were the words I put on the outside of our order of service that we handed out to everyone as they came into the church.  We had a lovely church service on a day that was not dissimilar to today heat wise.  I had decided years earlier right or wrong I would wear an opera coat and the veil my mum wore on her wedding day.  An opera coat from shot silk on a day where the mercury was above 30 was never really a great idea, I did have a combat plan though and that was once the photos were done I would take my veil off and give it back to my cousin/photographer she had worn it at her wedding as well as her mum (mum's sister) so it is a really lovely family veil and I would also strip off the opera coat revealing a party dress underneath.  

We wrote our own vows and surprisingly (or not) I did not vow to obey my husband.  Here they are 

With the love that resides in my heart, 
I take you to be my chosen one
to desire and be desired by you without sin or shame.  
I promise to love you completely
in sickness and in health, 
in plenty or in poverty.  
I will not seek to change you in anyway and 
I will respect you as I respect myself 
This is my promise to you, as long as we both shall live. 

We have had many highs and lows in the last 15 years but we have come through it together. Along the way we have done lots of exciting things as a family, volunteered in the various groups we are part of. We have also been blessed with three beautiful children who light up our world and keep my heart beating. We are also lucky to be surrounded by the love and support of our amazing families and friends whose support we have needed more than ever in the last year. 
I love you, and thank you for saying 'I do'. 
Here is a little video of photo memories from the last 15yrs (in no particular order!) Apologies it is a little long so grab a cuppa before you sit down to watch lol ... 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The lies we tell ourselves ...

It seems from my journals the last couple of days haven't been great.  In fact today if I described how I am feeling it would be what I imagine free falling from a plane feels like, just falling and completely out of control.  This is not really a feeling that I like at all.

Apart from the distinct lack of control it actually feels like I almost climbed out of the hole that I have been in.  Well not nearly out and probably not even close to the top, maybe though there was just a little bit of sunlight peeking through all the grey and darkness and dirt and crap that had been covering me for so long.  It no longer feels like that.

Image source: Michael Benanav for The New York Times

It feels like I have lost my grip and I am in free fall without a chute and loosing site of the teensy bit of light that I had.  It feels as though as I fall I am disturbing the dirt and try to find something to grip onto and I am bringing that back down on top of myself, slowly suffocating me in the process.  It is covering me again and I can't open my chute to slow the fall.

Source Unknown
I am not sure what has caused me to loose my grip though I can see from my writing it has been a pretty sad news week so perhaps that has something to do with it.  It could be the post Christmas come down, we have a biggish family and that time between Christmas and New Year is typically busy for us, in addition of course to the normal craziness of the lead up.  I suspect that I was operating on adrenalin during that period of time and trying so hard to hold it together for everyone around me let's face it who wants to be around a sad sack at Christmas time.  This has to be playing a part.

From what I have read I have also had two extremely lucid and vivid dreams.  I know in "the before" dreams like this would leave me beyond exhausted because it really feels like I am awake and living the dreams.  Which also means that in the morning or when I wake out of the dream I then need to process through all the feels that might have come up.  I am also physically exhausted from having no restful sleep.  

Sometimes these dreams can be incredible I can do and achieve incredible things, all my dreams and hopes for the future, for my family, my friends it is like living in an alternate reality.  The last couple of nights however, the dreams have not been like that.

The first one was where there was a big group of us on a cruise and someone humiliated me terribly doing something that was completely out of character for them and everyone was sitting around laughing at me because they all knew ahead of time and it was like I was the last person to know.  This dream was so horrible I woke up crying and I spent the day believing all the horrible things that happened in the dream.  It would seem that I spent the day sending text messages to get reassurance that the events that happened were in fact just a dream and not real.  The messages are beyond ridiculous in all honesty that doesn't seem that it has stopped my brain believing them and perpetuating them over and over (I am still feeling the feels from that today!).

My second dream was not quite as bad though it was equally as bizarre and the primary theme of this one was that at every turn I was managing to let everyone down because I was trying to be everything to everyone but achieving nothing at all.  This one was actually more bizarre because there was only a couple of people I knew in real life in it the rest of the people were either imaginary or blogs I have read or even ridiculously famous people.  Yet again, because I was letting people down left, right and centre there were a lot of not so nice feels in this dream.  I have been very blah from it.  It has really left me in an incredible funk.  In addition to the free fall with no chute none of this is leaving me in a very great place.

Certainly not feeling like I want to go anywhere or see anyone.  So I was actually a little bit excited when hubby said he was taking the kids out for the morning which meant I could have some time alone.  I thought of all the things I could do with that time but instead because I am so exhausted I just did nothing.  I have a long list of things I really WANT to do and one thing I feel I MUST get done before next Thursday but absolutely no motivation to get it done.  Partly because my brain keeps telling me that regardless of what I do I will never be good enough, I will let people down over and over, I am completely useless and unlovable so why bother.  No-one would even notice if I wasn't here. 

Thing is I rationally know that these things that my brain is telling me are not the truth but I don't seem to be able to believe the good.  It is these lies that my brain keeps telling me that are stronger and far more overwhelming at the moment.  I think I know, at least I need to hold onto the fact that I have climbed out once before and this time I can recognise I am falling again so maybe, hopefully I won't be down there so long.

In the meantime send me a lifeline for me to hold onto.  And if you see me with a smile on my face please don't let that fool you into thinking I am ok, I might be, but there is a very good chance I am crumbling inside just like kinetic sand.  So if you see me smiling and I tell you that I am fine and you think maybe I am not don't ask again just give me a hug or squeeze my hand to let me know that you are there for me.  

Anyone experiencing personal difficulties can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit or contact Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 or visit 

Brick - Ben Folds Five 

Cathy xoxo 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Things ...

Are you the sort of person that keeps things or gets rid of everything?

I am an in-between person I think.  I don't really cope with clutter, though it seems to be everywhere I look.  I try very, very hard to not hang onto things but I struggle to let go of them all at the same time, especially things I have an emotional attachment to.

I think I am better than I used to be, though I am not 100% sure on that.  I was reading that I have a significant wool stash much more than I currently have on my shelves apparently there is at least half a dozen plastic tubs of varying sizes in the roof.  So in a way I see the wool I have and think wow I am really good at not hoarding my wool, the only problem is I am actually not as good as I think at not hoarding.

I don't hoard in the same sense that they make tv shows about.  I do remember back to an early boyfriend and his mother had a real problem.  She honestly thought she didn't have a problem, except for the fact that there was barely a walkway through the house for stuff and there was at least 3 rooms in the house that you couldn't enter partly because there was so much stuff in there it wasn't possible to get the doors open!  She thought of herself as a collector, her particular collections was dolls and their accessories.  I remember she used to call them her babies!  She also had ready access to stuff because she worked in admin in one of the Mission Australia sorting centres so every day she brought something new home!  I found it really hard being in that house.

I do however hold onto things perhaps long after they should be gone or at the very least packed away and there are things that are at the top of my list to grab should we ever have to evacuate.

Some of these things include:

This is a picture of my mum's first mixmaster about 45yrs old, a picture I painted when I was 3yrs old and my first teddy.  I also have my first two dolls and my pram (these are all in the roof space so they would be slightly harder to grab in the event of an evacuation.) 

Some pearls that were given to me by my mum from a very special lady, two Royal Doulton crazy tea sets one belonging to my Nan and one to my Nannie both of whom have long since passed away.  I have more Royal Doulton that I would grab but these would be at the top of my list.  

This cheese knife honestly it is something I treasure dearly.  It was given to me on the last Christmas we had with my grandparents.  I was 18 and such a complete brat about it.  I could not for the life of me understand what my Nannie was thinking giving me a cheese knife.  All the other grandkids got a box of chocolates and I got this damn cheese knife.  I threw a tantrum (yes truly at 18 I really was incredibly ungrateful!) and my Nannie produced a box of chocolates for me as well.  What none of us knew was that slightly over one month later my Nannie and Pa would die together in a tragic accident that changed our family forever.  Nannie had written on the box that it was always kept in until it fell apart.  Before that happened I had the words engraved on the handle and it reads "Cathy, I hope you will find plenty of use for this in years to come.  lots of love Nannie & Pa '89."  That was 25 years ago in Feb 2015, the chocolates are long gone but I still have this knife. 


This one I know is a little morbid but it is still very precious to me.  These are the ashes of my first baby - well not actual baby but my fur baby.  Ruts was a beautiful dog he had such a beautiful temperament and he was a brindle coloured cardigan corgi and he was very treasured as I got him after someone so incredibly dear to me died so suddenly in a workplace accident.  

These are my boys today they will never replace Ruts but Obi & Chewy have certainly put their stamp on my heart!  

Of course there are the standard things I would try to grab like some clothes (and I know from past experience of evacuation the best clothes to take are the ones in your dirty washing basket (unless you are a freak who never has any clothes in a washing basket because they are so completely up to date with washing!) mainly because these are the clothes you like and wear!  Toiletries and scripts for medication rather than medication itself because you never know how long you might be out so try to keep your scripts in the one place if you take regular medication.  Identification because this can be a really time consuming and costly process if it needs replacing.  And of course I would try to grab my photos and my lp records.  However, both of these things are in big plastic tubs at the back of the shed buried under other things.  I have a large number of photos on external hdd so I would grab those if there was not time to get anything else.  Most importantly there is a small jewellery box I would also grab.  

I try hard not to hold onto things but I really find it difficult with the things that hold a sentimental meaning for me.  What are you like?  Do you hold onto things or are you able to easily detach yourself from them emotionally to let them go?  

Cathy xoxo 

Video YouTube:  Cats in the Cradle - Harry Chaplin

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rain, mental illness, murderers and sexism ...

sourced from YouTube
These four topics have consumed mainstream media and social media feeds for days it would seem! 

Rain sucks unless you are a farmer in drought or rely on rain to fill your tanks for you know showers, drinking, washing etc.  When you are a farmer the rain still really needs to fall at the right time even if you are in drought!  Rain at the wrong time of the year could ruin the crops and that could mean the loss of more money.   

City kids complain about rain for different reasons it means that they can't get outside and do the things that they might want to like skateboard or swimming or bike riding.  Parents have another reason altogether and that is we cannot banish the kids outside when they are fighting or getting on our nerves especially in the school holidays.  We are forever looking for inside things to do that don't require some form of electronic device!  Everyone gets a little sick of each other and cabin fever sets in!  This is really never a good thing especially in the middle of the summer holidays when we should be outside enjoying sunshine and doing outside things.  

One day of rain is kind of nice to have a doona and hot chocolate day but day after day gets a little bit tedious really. The environmentalist in me feels terribly guilt about wanting the rain to go away because I know how much we need it, frankly though I am just over it, the grey skies, the kids whinging, the boredom (even my 69yr old Dad told me that he was bored today and that is really saying something!), and well the flooding and all the damage that rain can bring that is another ball game altogether.  Stay safe out there folks and remember if it's flooded, forget it! 

What all this inside time means of course there is more time for reading and as I said at the beginning there are four topics that seem to be dominating all of my feeds both mainstream and social media rain/floods, mental illness, murderers and sexism.  It has been a busy little week and we are only at Wednesday!  Rain like lots of things in life is all about perspective to some it is renewing, life blood and to others it is a burden.  

Mental illness is in the papers again for all the wrong reasons sadly.  It is not to raise much needed understanding and awareness.  It is as some people believe being used as an excuse for murder in a very devastating and tragic murder/suicide that occurred in Port Lincoln earlier in the week.  I have a very different take on this and perhaps that is because of my own experiences with mental illness or perhaps it is because I have a less black and white view on the world.  Just because someone is smiling on the outside you can never know what is happening on the inside.  Sometimes the very need to control the smile (or every aspect of your life to be perfect!) is the very thing holding them together.  Don't ever assume a smile or an appearance of "normal" means that everything is ok. 

The judgement and vitriol that is appearing in comments on articles is really very sad.  It also shows that regardless of how far we have come in raising awareness about mental illness the reality is there is still very little real understanding and we have such a long way to go.  For many people they see mental illness as isolated to depression, anxiety or bipolar which means really that you feel a bit sad but if you take a pill that sadness will go away and anxiety is simply a matter of keeping calm and breathing through difficult situations.  Of course, I have over simplified things and while people cognitively know there is more to it than that, it is difficult to understand unless you have some sort of first hand experience of it.  Mental illness can often manifest in some form of self harm be it suicide, alcoholism, addiction of any sort, non-life threatening self-harm, visions, delusions, disassociation, voices, OCD,you name it.  There are lots and lots of mis-understood or mis-diagnosed forms of mental illness.  It is when it gets to this point in many cases it can be past the point of reason, rationality and reality.  

There is no doubt that someone who takes another person's life is a murderer, however, when mental illness is involved the situation is far more complicated than it might otherwise be.  Mental illness when untreated and even when treated can manifest in all sorts of ways some of these rob us of the ability to think clearly and rationally.  Generally we like to believe that every action is thought through properly, understanding the consequences, knowing right from wrong and being in a position to fully accept responsibility for our actions whatever they might be.  This is great in a perfect world where the brain is functioning properly and firing on all cylinders so to speak.  When mental illness invades our brains it can rob us (even the most rational, loving, normal etc people) of the ability to think through how to breathe.  Thankfully this is where the brain kicks in and it simply shuts out all the higher level functions and withdraws to the basic primitive levels that are required to keep us alive so we don't have to think about breathing to stay alive.  

The problem occurs when that loss of rationally and reality collides with an extreme deep-felt heartache and pain that is simply indescribable then people even very, very good people are capable of doing things that would normally in a normal world be so far removed from what they believe about themselves and what they hold as true to them.  This is by no means to say that mental illness should be ever used as an excuse for any actions.  It is however to simply say that sometimes mental illness and a far greater understanding of it could go a long way to helping provide an explanation for things.  I just can't reconcile how the vitriol and extreme judgement on this man will as many people believe help others to recognise mental illness in themselves so that they can reach out and get help.  There is no doubt that there is specialist help available, however this can be out of reach to many for so many reasons including (but not limited to) living in a regional area, not recognising in yourself you need help, fear of judgement, financial, lack of adequate help and so many more.  All too often people who desperately need help cannot get it when they need it or they do not get the right help.  Equally we speak of this man as though he was in a rational space who could recognise that he needed the hep.  Knowing right from wrong is one thing, sometimes our brains slowly rob us of our ability to see things clearly, most often it is so slow no-one really notices least of all the person themselves until it is too late.  

I say this as someone who has read over my journals today and have discovered that I have had to take responsibility for my actions, actions I do not remember, actions that hurt and disappointed those closest to me.  What I read is that even though I cannot understand the why, the what, the how or even remember the doing I have never shied away from accepting responsibility and making restitution.  This has included apologising to all those involved.  All that I can do is offer up my at the time undiagnosed mental illness as an explanation but never an excuse.  All that I can do from here is to accept that it has happened and that the apology has been accepted and it is time to move forward.  

This leads me to today's latest scandal in the sexism scandal and that is the apologies.  The quick recap is there have been a few politicians behaving really badly (sadly this is not really news) and a sportsman also behaving in a way that is generally accepted as not appropriate in this day and age.  I am not going to get into these issues honestly they have been done to death by many media outlets and social commentators and whilst there are lots of fence sitters out there it is generally accepted that the behaviour by the men involved is not on.  Now or ever again.  

My issue with these situations is the non-apology-apology.  This is when someone says "If X is offended/hurt/upset/etc by my actions then I am sorry" or when someone says "I'm sorry but I did X because X happened to me so ..."  Guess what fellas (and gals out there!) this is NOT an apology.  An apology needs to be heartfelt, it needs to show contrition, it is always handy if the person apologising shows some empathy towards the aggrieved party, it needs to be unreserved and it needs to be real with no excuses.  

The examples of apologies that have been offered up in the last few days are really pretty ordinary in the way of apologies.  They do not appear to take into account the effect their actions have had towards the other people and in all three situations (Briggs, Dutton and Gayle) the apology has only been proffered due to being caught out.  Let's face it that is really why most apologies occur but in these three instances there seems to be no reflection on the actions that they are inappropriate in the first place.  I am not sure how we get people to understand that a real apology can make all the difference even in the most difficult of situations.  Sure an apology is often also an acceptance of guilt but isn't that ok, if you have been made aware that you have in some way hurt someone shouldn't you own up and offer an apology.  Sometimes this will make all the difference and everyone can move forward together, sometimes this is just part of the solution.  Whatever the case a heartfelt apology is never going to make things worse.  

Image source:
Reading over this and everything else I've read today, including what I wrote yesterday I think the biggest issue is that we still see the world in extremes.  Black and White.  Good versus Bad.  Right and Wrong.  We want to package everything up into nice little boxes because it helps us make sense of things.  Bad people do bad things to good people.  Good people know the difference between right and wrong.  

Sadly, I just don't think we can do that now or ever really.  I think that if we look back over history there are lots of examples where good people have done bad things for all sorts of reasons often these have been reasons of duress but they have happened.  Does that mean that they did not know right from wrong?  Of course not it means they found themselves in a situation where they couldn't find an alternative or they couldn't process the difference who knows.  We can never truly understand why some things happen.  

Sometimes bad things happen to good people and good people do bad things.  That doesn't mean because there is a possibility bad things might happen we should all wrap ourselves in cotton wool and never venture outside because trust me cabin fever sets in very quickly! It also doesn't mean that all good people will do bad things given the right circumstances or that otherwise good people should be defined by their actions.  Of course this is not the case for everything sometimes bad crap happens for no reason at all, there are no explanations, there is no-one or thing to blame and it still happens.  Equally there are plenty of bad people out there who simply do not care how they might hurt someone.  I am not talking about those situations.  

It would be great if in a perfect world we could package everything up into neat little boxes, it would help everyone really but that is not how life is.  There are many shades of grey between the extremes that many of us live.  Like the rain life is all about perspective and it will all depend on the perspective you have will often determine your response.  Rain can be a source of renewal and cleansing and perhaps what we need to do as a society is use the rain to help us wash away the old and learn to live in the middle ground, showing more kindness, understand and empathy.  This might help people to learn how to apologise properly, to understand mental illness, to not get cranky at the weather, to accept they need help before it is past the point of no return, to understand and listen to other points of view, to accept difference and the list goes on.  Ahhhh who am I kidding the weather is always going to be the bane of my existence it will always be too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry and never quite just right, a little bit like life for Eeyore.

Anyone experiencing personal difficulties can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit or contact Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 or visit 

Be gentle and kind to yourself and others it will really make the world a better place. 

Cathy xoxo

Video:  Break in the Weather - Jenny Morris