I’m happy for you

We say this all the time- to our partners, our parents, our friends and even our enemies.

But are you really happy for them? Or just jealous and this is a nicer way of saying it?

And quite frankly, to paraphrase Seinfeld- I’m happy for you, but what is it really doing for me?

But you can’t not say it can you?

You are expected to be happy for the newly engaged/newly pregnant/new home owners/new job getters even if a) you don’t want these things for yourself and/or b) your life is really shite at the moment.

So you smile, and say it, even though on the inside you are mentally taking a journey on what the implications of this news is for you.

Sure, I’m happy if my friends are happy, but how do you know if someone is really happy?

I guess you can only go on what people tell you and hope they are being honest with themselves and with you.

So, what is happiness?

Wikipedia states that it is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.

The one I remember from high school Society and Culture studies is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Needs are psychological (physical bodily needs), safety, social (love and belonging), esteem (respect) and self-actualisation (values and morals).

So maybe by saying “I’m happy for you” we are actually performing an act of esteem by being respectful of others.

And really, there’s nothing wrong with that I suppose? If respect is returned to fulfil your needs. Or is that an ultimately selfish notion?

Ok, we got a bit deep there! Just be happy I say and the rest will follow.

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England, 2002

I returned to Weymouth to stay at my grandparents house in the winter of 2002.

My grandfather had Alzheimer’s and was staying in a home not too far away so my uncle from Canada was also visiting as the same time.

My grandfather had deteriorated to the point of not really knowing who my grandmother was and it was a sad time for us all. When I visited him, he didn’t know who I was either, but he had one moment of clarity where it clicked and he started crying as he did not want me to see him like that.

My grandmother seemed to have partially accepted the inevitable as she had her engagement ring, which she hadn’t ever taken off, resized to fit my finger so that I could take it with me when I went home.

I was glad that I had lived with my grandparents during happier times and hoped that they wouldn’t suffer for too long.

Trying to make the most of the trip despite the circumstances, I went on a country walk to Upwey Manor behind my grandparents house and spent some time with my grandmother.

On New Year’s Eve, the whole town of Weymouth gets dressed up in fancy dress and goes out. So I dressed up as a fairy with my friend Sarah and her brother’s girlfriend Nadine and we hit all the old haunts with the old crew and some new friendly faces.

Sarah now lived in London in a flat with three friends. So I went to stay with her and hang out for a couple of days.

I visited my family in London and we went to the usual sights- Big Ben, Parliament Houses, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Leister Square, Shaftesbury Avenue, The Strand and the London Wall.

The London Eye was a new attraction which meant the line-up was too long to go for a ride so we admired it from below instead.

I visited Kensington Palace and Holland Park with my friend Clare. She also took me to Kensington High St and the fashionable Notting Hill area near where she lived. I loved the tall houses with their communal gardens.

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Return to sender

Once when I caught the train from Sydney back to Berry, I left my wallet on the train. Distraught, I sought out the station master, who located my wallet and had it sent back on the next train.

Another time, distracted by disposing the rest of my lunch one day, I left my phone on a table in the middle of the food court and raced back to the office.

Fortunately, by the time I had reached my desk, a kind soul had already found my phone and called my dad who had left a message on my work landline. I headed back to retrieve my phone and thank them. They wanted nothing in return.

Finally, there was the time that I was so busy getting off a broken down bus to get on the next one that I left my new red leather wallet on the first bus.

The kindly bus driver gave me a free ride back to the bus depot to collect my wallet which had been returned with the money still intact.

And so it happens, that just when you think there were are no nice people left in Sydney, something like this happens.

A man will get up for a pregnant woman on a bus.

A lady will slip over in the middle of the street and more than one person will rush to her aid.

A tourist will look lost and a passer-by will offer directions.

At the end of the day, I think we are all human and most of us are good.

Sure, there are some selfish horrible serial killer types out there, but these are not the norm even in a big city.

Good karma to all the kind souls that have always returned money, wallets, phones, bags and children that have been lost.  You’re the best!

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Canada, 2002

For my post university trip I decided to go to Canada for a bit of fun, England to visit my ailing grandfather and Thailand to meet up with my boyfriend for a holiday on the way back.

My aunt and uncle in Richmond were kind enough to take me in again and I revisited the usual haunts with my cousin Kate- Steveston, White Rock and Gastown.

I saw the otters, belugas and sea lions at Vancouver Aquarium; but the killer whales were no longer there- the last one having been re housed in 2001. So I went to see the killer whale totems on the totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park instead.

Celina and Geoff’s girlfriend Genevieve took me to the lookout tower in downtown Vancouver where we had a great view of the University of British Columbia (UBC) where they were both going to school.

We all visited the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and I saw some more totem poles and learnt about the First Nations people. By night we went to the Pit Pub and to see Geoff’s new band The Malchicks play.

I went to Whistler with Genevieve and a bunch of her nursing friends from university for a night. Not to ski- but to drink. We started drinking on the bus trip up and arrived in Whistler village just before nightfall. There were ice sculptures, it was snowing and we made snow angels. Those nurses sure could drink!

The next day, after a queasy bus ride back to Vancouver, I met my aunt and uncle to visit Lynn Canyon Park. All I could manage to keep down for breakfast was a raspberry iced tea- which promptly came back up. I barely appreciated the beautiful waterfalls and clear blue pools under the suspension bridge.

I went to Vancouver Island to catch a top view of Victoria from Mt Tomlie and high tea at the Empress Hotel; catching sight of Mayne and Galliano Islands from the ferry on the way back.

My cousin Glen now lived in Calgary so I went to visit him. It was the middle of winter and the coldest weather I have ever experienced of 40 degrees Celsius below zero. It was so cold that Glen’s house had ice cycles on it and he had to plug his car into electricity to keep the engine from freezing.

We went to the Calgary tower to get a view of the city and to the half frozen Bow River in Princes Island Park. We played snooker at the Heritage Park Historical Village and went to a bar that had real cowboys line dancing.

Glen’s job was as a pilot for freight planes. So he took me to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to see the Delta Bessborough Hotel and experience what it was like for my nose to freeze. We also flew to Edmonton to see Parliament House and visit the famous indoor water park at West Edmonton Mall.

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Is it just me?

This week is Post Natal Depression Awareness Week.

Let me state up front, that I have not had Post Natal Depression; however I was told that I was borderline post natal depressed at my local Early Childhood Health Centre.

This diagnosis was given after I completed a short computer survey at my first appointment post the birth of my daughter.

I am ashamed to say that my first reaction was complete fear at having it and my second reaction was- well, really, who wouldn’t be a little off after not having slept for 3 weeks whilst trying to keep a small helpless human alive?

When I told my husband, he was angry and said they must have just caught me on a bad day.

When I told my GP, he was horrified and demanded to know who it was so that he could complain.

The whole experience was entirely unhelpful and I never went back to the Early Childhood Health Centre again.

Was it a wise move to cut myself off from local community support? Perhaps not. But it was necessary to have the confidence to keep raising my child.

According to the Post and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA), the symptoms of Post Natal Depression are:

  • Sleep disturbance unrelated to baby’s sleep needs
  • Appetite disturbance
  • Crying
  • Inability to cope
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Negative obsessive thoughts
  • Fear of being alone
  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem.

Personally, I have experienced most of these to some degree since becoming a mother. Not all of them, all the time; but some of them some of the time.

Maybe that’s the difference between having post natal depression and the normal stress levels associated with being a mum? Am I the only one who feels this way? Or am I just a little bit too honest?

Everyone’s experience of parenthood is different and I won’t pretend to have all the answers. But I do have a healthy, happy, affectionate little girl who is always laughing, smiling and continually exploring.

And that makes me smile too.

Sri Lanka, 1998

On the way back to Australia, I went to Sri Lanka to visit my mum’s side of the family.

I stayed in Colombo and hung out with my cousins before heading upcountry to stay with my aunt and uncle who were managing Norwood tea estate at the time.

Their Rhodesian ridgeback Sandy was about to have puppies which was very exciting. They also had a huge black Labrador called Salsa and a Golden Retriever called Goldie. The manager’s house had a lovely blue swimming pool which the dogs liked to swim in.

I climbed Adam’s Peak again with the creeper- a guy who was learning the art of tea growing from my uncle. The view at sunrise was good this time and I got to ring the bell at the top as I had climbed the peak before.

We went to North Cove Cabanas to stay the night. The house was recently built on top of a waterfall and they found panther paw prints in the wet concrete that had appeared overnight. It was a beautiful place to stay- I do love a water feature.

I smiled at the tea pluckers and had a tour of Norwood tea factory with my uncle, before it was time to head back to Colombo for more partying with the cousins. I took one of Sandy’s newly born puppies with me to be rehomed in the city.

It was nice to spend some time relaxing and being taken care of in Sri Lanka as my year abroad drew to a close and it was time to head back to the reality of university, finding a job and finding a place to live.

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You spin me right round

The only remotely risqué thing I have done (that I am willing to share on the blog anyway!) is take pole dancing lessons.

I was bored after two seasons of taking salsa lessons and not really learning anything as the men have to lead; so I convinced a friend and took us to Bobbi’s Pole Studio in the middle of Sydney’s CBD.

I had already had a taste of what the studio had to offer after attending a hen’s night (bachelorette party or stagette do for those from other countries) where we dressed up in cute outfits and I was complimented on my spinney pole skills.

It was with trepidation and a bit of dutch courage from the pub next door that my friend and I walked into our first lesson. The class was girls only, which immediately put me at ease and the teacher was blonde, friendly and bubbly- kind of like a cheerleader.

The beginner’s course was good and they eased us into the moves slowly. The idea was to teach us some basics and then put together a simple routine to boppy music.

We were advised to purchase shorts that were short enough to keep our thighs bare to grip onto the pole and stiletto heels to make the moves easier to perform. Stiletto heels?! I couldn’t even walk in normal heels, let alone heels that are thin enough to break.

Pole dancing was surprising more athletic and less stripper-like than I thought. Don’t get me wrong- they still made us wear what is basically underwear and perform a Kate Moss- but I actually had to quit after the taking the beginners course twice over as I was not athletic enough to continue.

Sure- I can spin around a pole just a good as the next person; however I lacked the core strength and abs that are needed to hoist your body up a pole whilst upside down only holding on with your ankles. I was also completely scared of landing on my head onto the wooden floorboards.

My friend, on the other hand, was addicted and went on to progress much further than I did. She may have even suggested that she was going to have a pole dancing themed thirtieth birthday party and rope me into performing on the night (thank god that never happened!).

We did put on a show at the studio at the end of term for family and friends only. Our boyfriends were suitably impressed with our newly purchased outfits and the result of our efforts, even though I had to do a couple of extra spins while everyone else performed upside down acrobatics.

Credit to all the pole dancing teachers out there- it is a sport and these ladies are truly athletes. It was fun for a while, but I think I will stick to the sports I can actually do, like taking a nice walk in the park. But at least I can now do this in five inch heels!

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Canada, 1997-1998

After my European adventures and spending Christmas in England, I decided to go back to Canada for New Year’s Eve.

I went to a big New Year’s Eve party in Vancouver with cousin Jay, his girlfriend Sarah, Geoff from the band and his girlfriend Celina. It was a lonely feeling having no one to kiss as midnight when everyone else was coupled up. I shook hands with a stranger instead- she must have been the only other single girl at the party!

It was snowing in Richmond, so we built a snowman in the backyard and went tobogganing at the school next door that had a big empty sports field- all very novel activities for an Aussie that didn’t grow up with snow. We visited the pretty local Buddhist temple and went back to Steveston.

Jay was training to be a hairdresser at the time, so I let him put in the only streak that has ever been in my hair. It was red and you could barely see it- just the way I like it.

In Vancouver, it was so cold that the dock at Stanley Park froze over. I went back to Vancouver Aquarium with Jay and Sarah and saw the killer whales. I also went to see the steam clock in Gastown again and saw the Chinese New Year show at the Plaza of Nations.

I wanted to get a tattoo, but didn’t know what to get that wasn’t cliché. So I went into downtown Vancouver to get my belly button pierced with my friend Jeanette who already had a tongue piercing. We went to a tattoo parlour which is meant to be better than a hairdresser. They didn’t use anaesthetic, just smelling salts, but it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, so that was ok.

My uncle took the whole family up the Grouse Mountain Sky Ride for a fancy dinner at the Grouse Nest restaurant. The view of the city as night was awesome. They had lots of wood carvings at the top of the mountain of goats, bears and wolves and we went on a real sleigh ride in the snow.

I went to Mt Baker, just over the border in Washington State, on a skiing trip with cousin Kate. We stayed in a real log cabin (apparently very hard to maintain) and I found out what mono boarding was. On another family skiing trip, we took the Sea to Sky highway to Whistler, seeing Chieftain Rock on the way. We sat in the warm outdoor spa in the cold air and skied Blackcomb.

The last big party before I was due to leave was Arts County Fair at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Bands played all day and I got a souvenir plastic mug for beer refills. There were not enough toilets so we took turns peeing behind a rug and it was the first time I had ever been in a mosh pit- scary stuff!

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Survivor- Season 29: San Juan Del Mar

So, we are about half way through season 29 of Survivor: San Juan Del Sur (blood versus water) and I have an early prediction for the win. I know its Survivor and anything can happen- but my money is on the gay couple Reed and Josh.

The whole concept of blood versus water is the opposite of how life is in the real world. In the real world, there is no question that you would choose your loved one over your work mates. Unless you are John Rocker of course.

This season, exile island isn’t really a proper exile island as those exiled come back after only one night to join in on the group challenges. This means they still maintain contact with their team and it is a much less brutal experience.

It all seemed a bit pointless to me, until Natalie volunteered to go to exile island in order to form possible future alliances in the other team. Aha! So it’s all part of social part of the game hey?!

I’m finding the team names really hard to remember this season too. Can’t we just go simple and call them the blue and yellow teams?!

There has been a litany of dumbness so far and I think we may have some of the dumbest players we’ve had since the show began. There was a particularly dumb male alliance; and the brother’s (Drew and Alec) are as dumb as each other.

Dumb actions of season 29 so far include:

  • Laziness
  • Eating almost all your rice too early
  • Lack of credibility
  • Making allies too soon
  • Admitting background strategy in front of everyone
  • Being overheard whilst strategising
  • Sharing your clue to where the idol is hidden
  • Admitting you have an idol
  • Hiding said idol instead of keeping it on you at all times
  • Being voted out without playing your idol
  • Being blindsided
  • Letting the rain get to you
  • Letting your team sit you out of challenges and by doing so put you on the bottom of the pecking order
  • Letting people push your buttons
  • Trading flint for fishing gear
  • Playing too big too soon
  • Throwing immunity challenges
  • Not looking disappointed enough after throwing said challenge
  • Not picking up that the challenge was thrown
  • Scrambling
  • Being too obvious in the timing of your apology
  • Not negotiating within your alliance and by doing so, creating the all girl alliance that you were scared of in the first place- just agree on a person- it doesn’t matter as long as it isn’t you!

I mean really, these are Survivor basics people!

Some of the players are even dumb enough to think that host Jeff is their friend that will make silly trades to help teams out. Come on guys, have you even watched the show before?!

Yep, Reed and Josh are going to kill it, especially with their newly formed tribe full of single straight women.

John and Jacelyn seem to be the power couple in the other tribe. It was smart of them to couple up with another couple and not pick who was nicer, but who was better for them to go further in the game.

And a final thought, it seems that the best game play of all is to go against all instincts and not protect your child. Real life it is not, but entertaining reality television it is.

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