Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Tag Archives: Life

The Secret

Perhaps it’s my negativity, but I find some people who consider themselves positive role models to be nothing more than damaged individuals who live within their own “positive” reality that isn’t very positive at all.

I find it hypocritical to call yourself a positive person when you use your tongue to offend others. Being racist is not positive, telling a person to be something other than what they are is not positive. Talking down to people is not positive. “Telling” people your success story instead of “sharing” your success story is not positive. Thinking you are perfect and others are not, is not positive.

I acknowledge that my positive attitude requires work; in fact it requires constant work. But, I also know that money isn’t everything and does not necessarily mean success, although I am willing to have money as well as my other successes.

I like money, but I don’t need money to know I have successfully raised two beautiful children, I am successful in my life, happiness and my relationship, and in fact I think I am the luckiest person in the world when it comes to spouses. I scored a perfect man!

It doesn’t matter what colour skin you have, or what walk of life you come from, I am likely to like you because I am a people person… I like people. I don’t see myself as inferior to you, but I don’t see myself as better than you either. I work hard not to judge and ask that you do the same.

I like to have conversations with people, not at people. I like to share my stories, but I want to hear yours too. I am not perfect at my conversational and listening skills, but I work at them…do you?

I am polite. I won’t tell you how pretty I am or how young I look and you could to if you were just like me. I won’t tell you that you have to change if you want to be successful. Why won’t I tell you these things? Because it is rude and who am I to be pretentious enough to think that I know the exact changes you should make to be successful or that you are unhappy with how you look. In fact, you may already consider yourself successful and I will bet a lot of people think you look great just as you are.

Yes, this is a rant and yes I am almost finished with my rant. So, how to handle these people, these positive people who are not actually positive people at all? Fuck them! I know that’s not a very positive statement, but that’s who I am. I won’t tell them that, because it’s my “stuff” and I don’t want to hurt their feelings.

I am caring, polite, considerate of others, a worrier, emotional, a hard worker, negative at times, positive at times, always a believer in the human race, a lover, an adventurer, a seeker of opportunity and loving of all things and people great and small, black and white (unless you are a spider). That my friends’ is what I positively believe…to be the secret!

My Partner has a Mistress…What To Do?

I had never imagined that I would be in a relationship where I had to be concerned about a Mistress as I have a lot to offer. I offer him my unconditional love and feel that love back. But it’s not enough to stave away the Mistress. Not only do I have to agonize about her, she has strength and a seductiveness that cannot be matched.
She clutches my man with determination and stamina that leads me to believe she is the devil herself. Her grasp is at times tender, enveloping him, creating a sense of euphoria, the experience…orgasmic. Suddenly, she digs her nails in; the euphoria is replaced with a primal need. Once again, he is under her spell.
She doesn’t make him happy, in fact the opposite is true; she devours his very soul. This is not love, not the kind of love he and I share, yet still, I know that when I am with him, he is thinking of her.
Their relationship is strong, all consuming, racked with guilt. Not from her, the guilt is reserved for him. She is not just a Mistress; she is an obsession, his obsession.
He has tried to leave her…many times. She gently massages him, drawing him back into her clutches, once again. She offers a hedonic experience. An experience he craves, to the point of thinking of no others.
Who is this Mistress who carries so much power?
Her name…Addiction! An all-consuming food addiction!
How do I compete with his Mistress? I believe. I believe in our love, I believe in his strength to overcome, I believe in him and I support him…unconditionally.

Turning 50 is okay as long as it’s not me!

Two of my best friends are turning 50 in January. My first thought was “how exciting”. But that thought quickly turned sour when I realised why I have two friends turning 50.
I AM GOING TO BE 50 THIS YEAR!
Yes, I realize that when you write in all capital letters, it means you are screaming. I wrote in all capital letters because, well because, I’m screaming!
I just can’t believe 50 years have almost passed. What have I been doing?
Partying, getting married, partying, raising children, partying, working, partying, getting divorced, partying, finding my awesome new partner Al, partying, moving to the other side of the world.
You get the picture, I don’t have to repeat it, life has been pretty good.
I have had several interesting careers, a marriage that lasted 30 years, two very beautiful children that I am very proud of, and who have collectively given me five wonderful, smart, fun Grandchildren, and an exciting new partner for life that has taken me to the other side of the world. Not bad!

Enjoying the good life in Tassie!

So, what’s the problem?
The problem is that I don’t feel 50. I feel like I should be about 25, not 50. But my body betrays me. I still like to have fun and do have fun, but I am much more likely to go home earlier, have a hangover easier, and not be happy with how the clothes are fitting!
Yes, things have changed! I weigh more than I ever have in the past, my hands have age spots, my tummy bulges, my face has wrinkles and I don’t have the stamina I used to have when I was young.
On the other hand, my house isn’t as clean as it used to be (it’s a good thing), I don’t sweat the small stuff, and I notice beauty around me much more often than I used to. I appreciate life and all that it has given me.
Does this mean I am going to give up and get old? Hell no!
I will continue to look for adventure and probably find more challenges while looking for those adventures. I will use moisturiser more often and stay out of the sun when possible. I will continue to try soooo hard to lose that extra 10 pounds, but above all, I will strive to keep on learning.
I look at the last 3rd of my life as a new beginning.
I am blessed to live with a man who spoils me rotten. Now that I’m older, I am going to appreciate it and at the same time take advantage of it.
I am likely to have more grandchildren, but if not, I am more likely to have great grandchildren while I can still have fun with them. Not too soon though Tristan!
I will keep on snorkeling, kayaking and golfing. I might even try to improve my golf game.
I have just embarked on a new career. I will embrace this new career and give it my all, just like I would have done when I was younger, only now my all includes a lot more knowledge.
I have so much to look forward to…like being able to laugh at my many friends that are turning 50 before me since I have about 4 months to go (but who’s counting)! And, I will. I will laugh, but I will celebrate that they are healthy, happy, 50 and still my friends. And, together we will grow older, not gracefully, but kicking and screaming and fighting it the whole way!

Happy Birthday Sherry and Nancy, January 25, 1961, the day two wonderful Goddesses entered the world!

Sherry & Nancy, the Goddesses!

 

Competition is knocking at your door Australia!

In the news today, Australia’s big retailers are calling for GST to be charged to online shoppers.Their reason is to create a “level playing field”. But, GST will not create a level playing field. When you can buy an item online for $300 instead of paying $800 in an Australian store, GST is off no consequence. I did just that last year when buying a watch for Christmas.

As a savy shopper, I researched before purchasing. I was mildly surprised to find the watch price range from $600 – $800 in retail outlets around Sydney. It didn’t seem to matter whether it was a big retailer or small, and none of these prices were a “sale price”. In fact I found the watch at a lower regular price in a jewellery store, than on sale at Myers! There is no excuse for such an excessive difference in price, someone is gouging!

What drove me to shop online? Not just the gouging, but the attitude of the retailers! I would ask if the watch was coming on sale and get rude comments back such as “these watches never go on sale”, only to find the watch on sale at the same retailer just days later!
Several times I walked out of a store because I couldn’t find anyone willing to help me!

Disturbed with the lack of customer service, but not to be dissuaded, I decided to research the watch online. I was not just pleasantly surprised, but shocked at the price difference. At $300, I was sold! I already have a paypal account, so it took me minutes to purchase the watch through ebay. It arrived at my doorstep within 3 days, well packaged and intact!

Welcome to the world of competition Australia.

My suggestion to the retailers of Australia, online shopping is a trend that cannot be bucked. It is here to stay. Either jump on the bandwagon and become an online presence or get left behind. Shopping online has hit Australia. It is only good business sense to listen to what your customers are asking for, they want online shopping and if they are visiting your store, they want the experience to be pleasant. That means increasing your level of customer service.

Competition is knocking at your door Australia, not just online shopping, but also large well known retailers are moving into Oz, such as Gap and they bring a superior level of customer service with them. It is time for Australian retailers to step up and compete or watch your sales plummet as these “foreign” retailers take hold of the market by offering a pleasant shopping experience. Good customer service is not difficult, just be authentic, know your product and show you care. The attitude of “that’s not my department” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

For whatever reason, retailers seem to have forgotten that it’s not all about you, it’s about what your customers want. The sooner you acknowledge and move towards filling their needs, the faster you will move forward!
It’s a sign of the times!

I Hear That Train a Comin!

Australia has an amazing system of public transport, trains! Which means, for the first time in my life I have been reliant on trains, therfore I have had to learn how to read train schedules, as well as bus schedules (go ahead, call me a small town girl), that connect with the correct trains. It has been a steep learning curve, but fun.

Just finding out which exit will suit you best when at Central Station is difficult, but trying to find the next train is even more difficult, especially when you are not sure if it’s the Eastern Suburbs, a city circle or maybe even a country train. I have learned to go to the big electronic boards, look for my destination, figure out which train system it’s on and then stress about where the platform might be as Central has three levels of platforms!

Speaking of trains, did you know that here in Australia there is a carriage called the guards carriage? This is where you will find the guard in case you have problems or it is late at night and you don’t feel comfortable traveling on the train alone.

How do you know which one is the guards carriage? There is a blue light on the exterior of the carriage. Apparently everyone knows this means there is a guard in that carriage. I wonder if tourists know that, because I sure didn’t?

Speaking of which, I always wonder how the tourists know where to buy their tickets, which tickets to buy and the most important thing…hang onto the ticket because you are going to need it to exit the train station on the other end! Maybe it’s just me, but this is all stuff I have had to learn being a “newbie” at train travel.

I have grown to enjoy train travel as long as I get a seat. If I have to stand, I of course, don’t enjoy that. I actually don’t mind so much as long as people are not taking up seats with luggage, purses or other paraphernalia that they think will keep the seat free for their use. I feel that when city rail personnel come through the train to check tickets, they should charge people that are using more than one seat if they don’t have an extra ticket for the extra seat. This would quickly stop the rude people that take up more than one seat!

For the most part, I am liking the train. It is inexpensive, a great place to people watch, enjoy the scenery or immerse yourself in what can end up being a very quirky conversation with fellow train travellers!

Toastmasters changeover dinner – Dimboola!

Late in June it the time when Toastmaster’s executives think of meeting their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and passing the baton to the new executive.

The Ettalong Beach and Coastal Communicators Toastmasters Clubs held a joint handover dinner at the Avoca Bowling Club.

The theme was the Dimboola country wedding – dreamed up and organised by Ettalong’s Gail Heggie – the result was both hilarious and successful!!! Great job Gail!

Ettalong has had a great year. As outgoing President I want to thank the entire club, especially my excellent executive. We hit all 10 KPIs! Brill!

The Groom (me) was from a family of hillbillys and dressed accordingly. The bride (from Coastal Communicators) was from a posh family and dressed accordingly.

David Tonkin has produced a video image presentation with the Dimboola song – click here

Judy and Al - Hillbillys at Toastmasters.

Judy and Al - Hillbillys at Toastmasters.

By the way – Dimboola is a real place in Victoria, Australia… View Larger Map

Looking For Adventure…Wombat!

I love road trips. In Australia, this usually means seeing kangaroo’s. I don my roo glasses (sun glasses) and start “roo hunting” immediately. Al being the good sport that he is, stops (when safe to do so) whenever I start my “ROO ROO ROO” rant. I don’t always take pictures of them anymore, but I never grow weary of watching them watch me.

I'm looking at you!

Last Thursday was no different. Al and I had started out on our road trip to Mudgee for an overnight stay, then on to our final destination of Lightening Ridge. It was a great day for a road trip. The sun was shining, the air was warm and the back roads were calling our name. We do take the highways when we are in a hurry, but this road trip was not hurried so we wound our way through rural New South Wales to enjoy the sights and smells of farmland and the quirkyness of the small towns that dot the roadside.

Imagine Al’s surprise when I started yelling “WOMBAT WOMBAT WOMBAT” (not easy to say) instead of “ROO ROO ROO”. Al dutifully pulled over, but said “it will be dead, because that’s the only wombat you will see during the day”.

“No, it’s alive and grazing on the side of the road”, was my reply.

He humoured me and backed up. Sure enough, there was this very rotund wombat grazing in the nice green grass, near a river. I am not sure why he was there, but I was happy and feeling very lucky to be seeing a live wombat during the day. He may have been out because of all the rain we’ve had lately making everything an unnatural green and lush!

Mmmm, good food!

I was stoked! We continued on our way seeing some kangaroo’s and believe it or not, camels! Out in the middle of nowhere was a guy and four camels. He seemed to be walking them. These would not be wild camels because camels are not found in New South Wales. It was interesting to see though!

We stopped at a little General Store on the side of the road. While Al went to the toilet (yes, this is what they would say in Australia). I was asking the lady what the population of this little town was, her reply…five! She did mention that about 30 other people lived in the surrounding area!

We had stopped there because they had a sign saying “best coffee in town”. It was the best coffee in town, even if it was the only coffee in town, it was good. I struggle with the term “town” when only five people live there, but who am I to argue!

It was then my turn to go to the toilet, which was situated out back! As I rounded the building I noticed a woman just closing the back gate after having driven through. She had five dogs with her who were obviously not counted as residents!

Me, being the animal person I am, immediately struck up a conversation with this woman. I had to pet the dogs and chat with her about the beautiful area she lived in. Of course, the conversation finally got around to me saying “I saw a wombat on the side of the road this morning”!

Her reply was expected, “Yes we get lots of dead wombats on the side of the road”.

“No, this one wasn’t roadkill, it was alive, well and grazing on the side of the road”.

She was surprised! Then to my surprise she leaned forward over the fence and whispered to me, ” I have one”.

“What”?

“I have a wombat”.

I was shocked. Did I just hear her right?  How could this woman HAVE a wombat?

She walked over to a big basket that was sitting on her back porch and started pulling blankets and cushions out of the basket. “That little rotter, she has gone in through the cat door again and will be curled up behind the stove. Go to the toilet, I will go find her and meet you out front to show you”.

I was back in a flash, but she had still beat me to the front. She was waiting in the coffee shop with a very excited Al gazing out the window watching for my return. When the lady had walked into the coffee shop with the wombat, Al had got all excited and said, “You have to wait until my Canadian girlfriend comes back, she will go nuts”.

“I know, I am waiting for her”, was her reply.

I got to meet and hold Mia. It was magical.

I am in heaven!

Too cute for words!

The story behind Mia… friends of the people who are raising her had come up from Sydney for a visit. On the way, they hit a wombat. Being animal lovers, they had stopped to make sure it was dead. When feeling for it to see if it was still breathing, they noticed a movement in the pouch. They put their hand in and pulled out Mia. She was about three weeks old. They took her back to Sydney and nursed her for a week, but then quickly realized that Sydney is no place for a wombat, so brought her back to their friends in the country.

Mia, in all her glory!

Mia is registered and will be released back into the wild when she is old enough. She is only eight weeks old right now. I am not going to say which town or which General Store, or I suspect these two very nice ladies would be swamped with visitors wanting to hold Mia. I do appreciate their kindness in allowing me to hold Mia. This is something that most Australians will never have the chance to do in their lifetime, I cherish the opportunity given to me. It was a moment I will remember forever.

Mia was beautiful, soft and cuddly. She is a typical baby and likes to be cuddled. She has huge buck teeth, really long claws that will one day be able to dig burrows for her to live in. She also has a little backwards pouch. Being backwards, this will allow her to dig without the pouch filling up with dirt. Most surprising is that most of her back is made of cartilage acting as a natural armour for protection. Isn’t nature amazing?

Mia will be raised in this home for about one year before being released back into the wild. Her carers are hoping that Mia will one day build her burrow on their large farm and remain nearby. Mia is one lucky wombat to have been saved and then have such incredible people take her in. I am one lucky person for having met Mia and her carers to whom I am thankful for helping to create a lifelong memory for me.

But, alas, we could stay no longer and it was back out on the highway, looking for adventure or whatever came our way!

Confessions of a Food Addict!

Have you ever sneaked a tasty morsel, especially when your partner was not looking?

Do you typically put eating a meal as a very high priority?

Do you feel guilty after eating?

Do you have occasional binges where no amount of food will satisfy your cravings?

Does eating become an obsession?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may be a food addict!

Research is beginning to shed light on the plight of us mega munchers. To be clear, I am not referring to those amongst us who have the odd “naughty” treat, I mean those who are out of control and paying for it;  financially and with obesity! For those of us who suffer this syndrome, food is our nightmare! Most of us say we love food, and we probably do.

Interestingly, I started to write this months ago. I just saw the following article and felt like yelling Hallelujah! Article: Junkies and Food Addicts Share Craving Mechanism.

Can a Lap Band help?

For me, I still get the mega cravings. I need a hit! I can’t eat enough but if I use lots of willpower I can struggle along. I asked a friend on the weekend about his experience – he was banded a few months ago. I asked if the cravings went (as the lap-band promoters suggest) – he answered “bullshit!” – I’m with him.

The band helps a lot, but it does not take away the food addiction!

I dream of being free of this! The monkey off my back! I just can’t handle my dopamine! Perhaps they will work out a control for it – in the mean time – grind on!

What are the Chances?

Finally, all moved into our new house. Well, it isn’t actually a new house, it’s an old house that is new to us. Being old, the house has issues (kind of like people).

No towel racks in the bathroom, a very ugly medicine cabinet and horrid closets in the two spare bedrooms, so we tore them out, repaired the walls, painted and then sat down to figure out what to do next.

Only one thing to do in a situation like this, a shopping trip to Ikea! Shopping at Ikea is a highlight for me. I love it because I always find what I want. This day was no different.

Al & I found great towel racks and a medicine cabinet that is soooo cute. It makes the need for a new vanity high on the list because it looks so much better than the vanity that is in there and with a new vanity everything would match! Hint! Hint!

The biggest and most important item we were shopping for was a wardrobe for Tim’s bedroom. This was considered a necessity since we had just ripped out all the built-in closets that were so crappy. We attacked the project of finding the right wardrobe with gusto with measuring tape in hand and soon settled on a lovely, off-white wardrobe that would give the bedroom an updated look and much-needed storage.

The problem, the wardrobe was not going to fit into our little jeep! It turns out that long is not always a good thing!

New plan, we would have the wardrobe delivered. After all Ikea is only about an hour away from where we live. How expensive could the delivery costs be?

We bought our new-found treasures and then split up. I went to pick up the medicine cabinet while Al took the wardrobe through to the delivery area. When we got back together he told me the bad news, delivery was going to cost $133.

My reply, “that’s crazy”! Me, being the cheap skate that I am decided that was just too much to pay. We would get a refund and shop for a wardrobe closer to home. Al was more than happy to agree as he had not been excited to pay that much for delivery.

This meant going to the customer service counter, taking a number and waiting our turn only to be told that we had to return to the delivery area, get our money back from the delivery people because they are contractors and then pick up our item from them, return to the customer service counter, take another number, wait again, then and only then could we return the item.

So, this is what we did. When we got back to the customer service desk with the wardrobe (like that is easy to drag around) we had a new lady serving us. This is how it went:

I said, “We would like to return this product”.

She replied, “No problem, can I ask why?”.

“It is going to cost $133. to have it delivered and we think that is too much to pay. We didn’t realize it would be so much”, Al told her.

“No kidding, that’s a lot! Where were you getting it delivered to”, She asked?

“Woy, Woy”, I replied.

“Oh, I live in Woy, Woy”, she said.

“Really, where do you live”?

“I live near the Pelican wharf”.

“So, do we. We live off a street near there”

“No way. You’re not the new neighbours, are you, she asked?

It turns out that we were. Not just the new neighbours, but we live right next door!

I couldn’t believe it. Fourteen thousand people go through that Ikea store every day. There are six customer service agents at that counter and we were talking to our next door neighbour. What are the odds?

Not only that, she turned out to be very nice and she offered to take the wardrobe home with her because it would fit in her car.

She arrived at our house the next night with the wardrobe in the back of the van. We are still in shock as to how lucky we are. We are lucky that we met Ikea lady when we did, we are lucky that she is so nice, we are lucky to have great neighbours, we are just very lucky people.

Was it luck or was it fate? Whatever it was, we’ll take it!

That’s a First

How many times in your life have you uttered the words “that’s a first?” When one thinks back, there are so many firsts in our life that are a given, first steps, first day of school, first date, first love… The list goes on and on.

Some firsts are not much fun, first time falling, first car accident, first broken heart, first experience with a loved one dying, many firsts are ones that we would prefer to forget. But, the exciting firsts more than make up for it. Perhaps it is just a little first, or sometimes a big one such as first time married or first baby, what is stimulating is the knowledge that as you are experiencing this first, you are growing as a person.

The problem is that as we age, the firsts in our lives start are few and far between. I have the answer.

Move to another country, experience another culture no matter how subtle the difference. It has sure worked for me. I can’t believe how many “firsts” I have experienced since moving from Canada to Australia. This came to mind just today as I walked into a mall and was hit by the air conditioning. Being from British Columbia, I have never really specifically sought out air conditioning. Here in Australia it is summer right now. It is not necessarily hot. In fact many locals will tell you it is the worst summer in years because we haven’t had any prolonged heat waves. But it is humid!

For the first time in my life, I have had a really hard time sleeping for well over a week. A couple of weeks ago (on a Friday night), the temperature never dipped below 28 degrees celsius. Try sleeping in that! Impossible!

This humidity has driven me to seek air-conditioned places. In fact even Al was happy to spend the day in a shopping centre with me a week or so ago. It was just too hot to be outside! The shopping centre was packed with like-minded people. This was a first for me. I have never spent a whole day shopping just to get some relief from the heat!

Living in another country has afforded me many firsts in a very short period of time. I know moving to another country isn’t for everybody, but if any of you  have the urge to expand your life by embracing firsts, you don’t have to move to do it.

Try flying in a large plane for the first time which will allow you to visit another country (yes, Jackie this is aimed directly at you) or maybe it is something as simple as serving scrambled eggs for dinner instead of breakfast which is more likely a first Jackie will try!

What I am getting at is that when you are experiencing a first you are expanding your personal world. When you are expanding your personal world, you are learning. When you are learning, you are growing. Learning and growing is a life long process.

Don’t be afraid! Unless of course you are on the roads of Central Coast Australia. That is where you will find me driving a car on the right hand side of the road. It’s a first for me, and sometimes scary. It can also be funny. When you are in a right-handed car, everything is opposite including the windshield wipers and blinkers. This means that when I go to turn, I turn on the windshield wipers instead of the blinkers. leads to a very clean windshield! I get the last laugh though because our new car is a North American make (Jeep wrangler), which means it may be right hand drive, but the blinkers are on the correct side for me. This allows me to laugh at Ozzies who drive my car. They wash the windshield with the turn of every corner.

Experiencing “firsts” doesn’t have to be stressful. Embrace the change and have fun. It is worth it!