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First impressions (shouldn’t) last

If you’re the kind if person who believes that first impressions last, we probably won’t be friends.
If you met me yesterday, at least, there’d be no chance in hell I’d be getting a Christmas card from you this year.
I was waiting all morning for a highly anticipated phone call from a much wanted (global, fun and exciting) client and the call finally came through while I was in the car.
In the car with our daughter – who was smiling and playing quietly with her bunny when I took a huge gamble and picked up the call on my hands free.
Things quickly flipped out of control because the second I pressed the green button, all hell broke lose in the perfectly tuned acoustic stadium of my car.
Our daughter started screaming. For absolutely no reason at all. In fact, she was smiling as she was screaming like a banshee. I turned around in my seat and made a shhhh sound, like we had been practising at home, and I left my finger for her to hold in the hope she might play with it for a few precious minutes and stay quiet.
Except that she didn’t hold my finger… She leant forward in her seat and BIT IT OFF.
It’s not as if she mistook my finger for a chipolata either. She went full Bear Grylls style and set her Piranha-like fangs onto my unsuspecting bony finger.
Naturally I reacted by screaming ‘(cl)uck’ which was the first thing I said to the Lovely HR lady on the other end of the phone.
I would have LOVED to start the conversation with “Hello, Sally here, How are you? But instead, the first impression the HR lady working for the global fun and exciting client heard from me was “*UCK”.
If this wasn’t bad enough, it was promptly followed by peals of hilarity from the back seat from my sadistic copycat kid who then shouted “cuk’ at the top of her lungs.
“cuk. cuk. cuk”
“CUUUUUUUK”
“cuk. cuk. cuk.”
And then I hung up. And drove really fast to the nearest kebab store. And ate a kebab.
So next time you see a mum with a kid in the street, or car, or playground, looking frazzled.
Don’t judge them.
Even when they look at you, smile and then yell “cuk” in your face.
Give them a second chance. They might just deserve it.
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Green smoothie = fail

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If you haven’t yet taken part in the green smoothie revolution that seems to have taken control of hipsters and fitsters alike, then read this post and thank me later.

After seeing various shades of green liquid in the hands of the young and cool, I thought I might take my tastebuds on a test-drive of this healthy green froth.

After a bit of research I discovered you create the said smoothie by blending a green vegetable – kale and spinach are popular – with fruit and extra good bits of goodness like goji berries and chia seeds and some weird thing called Maca powder that comes from the inner most part of South American volcanos and was used by ancient Inca tribes a remedy for all ailments, and bam –  you have a green smoothie concoction. No biggie.

And you drink it out of a JAR, like the cool kids, not a regular glass. Derr.

My neighbour made one for me based on a recipe from Pete Evans – it tasted delicious and I bit the bullet and decided to make one on my own.

Unequivocal disaster.

My first mistake was to use Kale – a vegetable I loathe. As chips, fried or in a smoothie, this vegetable tastes like arse. Just like its superfood sister quinoa. Just because it’s good for you doesn’t mean you should eat it.

Would you ever honestly sit down, salivating, and think – wow – look at that plate of fresh, raw, Kale. I can’t wait to eat that. Look! There’s an organic slug on that leaf that will be extra protein. Wait! How about a better idea, let’s juice the crap out of you sweet fresh kale and drink you! YUM! How exciting!

No. You haven’t. Because no-one would ever sit down and think that. Ever. And if you have you should probably go and get your mental health checked pronto.

I’m an advocate for healthy eating, but a green smoothie – forget it.

Give me a pie instead of a jar of freshly juiced vegetables any day.

 

 

Being fired and setting up a business makes you very busy and important…

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I haven’t forgotten you. I just haven’t been writing because I’ve been so busy and important.

Not in a… ‘I haven’t had time to see you because I’ve been so busy washing my hair’, kind of way… I just haven’t been able to write because I got fired and started my own business which is enough for me to be distracted from writing to y’all.

Here’s how it went down…

A week before Christmas I walked into work and promptly got fired.

Fired is probably a bit dramatic, so to use the proper terminology my role was made ‘redundant’.

I’ll take you on the journey.

I rocked into work with a skip in my step – not only had I just driven in the car listening to music other than Peter Coombs, I had just bought a coffee on my own. So far, it was the best day ever.

Except my computer wasn’t at my desk anymore. Neither were any familiar faces from my team.

I went looking for my computer and was told it had been moved, and my team had been made redundant.

Oh cluck.

Naturally I called the CEO who avoided questions about my personal job security and instead asked me out to lunch. Phew. I’m safe – I thought. He couldn’t possible fire me over pork belly.

But I knew something was up when he took me to a salad bar for lunch. Salad. Everyone knows if you boss takes you out for a salad you’re a gonner.

The strangest thing was he didn’t order a salad. He ordered a milkshake. It was so weird. So awkward. A strawberry milkshake. His words started wafting over me ‘we can’t afford to pay you anymore’, ‘company restructure’, ‘part-time employees are not a good cultural fit’ and all I could think is ‘HE’S FIRING ME OVER A CLUCKING MILKSHAKE! IF THIS IS MY LAST MEAL THAN I DON’T WANT IT TO BE SALAD. WHERE IS MY PORK BELLY?’

And with that, I was made redundant.

Except it wasn’t as depressing as that word sounds because it made me take stock and think about what I really wanted to do.

And I thought and thought and thought about it and decided that if I started my own business I could keep the nanny and walk the dog and do yoga under the guise of being busy and important. I could hand out business cards willy nilly but instead have a yoga-esque body like Miranda Kerr. Perfect!

Except that my husband was onto me. Such a kill-joy. He made me set up an actual business, like with ASIC and the ATO, so now I have an accountant and I almost have a website and I have been working like a dog, rather than walking the dog, on three clients who are all incredibly interesting. And I am so busy and important I don’t even have time for yoga. Or to clean the house.

So that’s where I’ve been. And seeing I am now back in the business of marketing and PR and content creation hopefully I’ll keep you updated a little more frequently.

Oh, and if you have any work…

The cult of Thermomix

Mothers can talk about a clucking lot of boring shit, and right up there is the dreaded Thermomix.

I’m not denying the magical powers of this seemingly dream appliance as it sautes and mills and mixes and pounds and cooks and ices to make delicious, healthy food in less than one minute flat…

But I  hate the dreaded way it is forced on unsuspecting mothers presumed to be in the target market (Target market = have vagina + kid).  And the sales pitch and brain washing that ensues.

If a neighbour asks you over for a drink in the evening sans kids – BE AFRAID.

If a mother you know suggests a drink ‘with a couple of their friends’ – RUN.

You’re about to be Thermomixed.

To spare you some time, this, my friends, is what you’ll experience.

When you arrive expect a smiling Stepford-esque lady in a green shirt dolling out a mango sorbet palette cleanser before creating a to-clucking-die-for raw beetroot and mint salad in less than 4 seconds, followed by home-made tomato sauce and then pizza – YES, PIZZA. And then risotto and bliss balls and home-made clucking ice-cream. Did I mention the margaritas?

The only catch? It costs $2000.00

This shit is real. And it’s coming to a street near you.

I’ve never known an Avon lady but I can imagine they won their friends and friends-of-friends over by selling something to make their friends feel better about themselves.

The Thermomix lady takes this to the next level.

This demi-god combines the three dearest things to a tired mother – food and alcohol with time away from your kids, and then sells you the Thermomix using a lexicon that isn’t about making you feel better about yourself, but by showing you that welcoming a Thermomix into your bankbalance life will help make you be a better mother. A mother who’ll not only help her kids by plying them with healthier food, but one who will also increase quality mothering time as she’ll spend less time in the kitchen.

DANG. These bitches are good.

Of course the after-effects of the ‘Friday night drinks with a few girlfriends‘ Thermomix demonstration lasts longer than the taste of the delicious food leaving your tastebuds, or the icy margaritas.

The BRAIN CREEP that comes after an unsuspected visit can last months.

When doing something simple like spreading peanut butter on a sandwich you start thinking. With a Thermomix I could make my own butter in four minutes and my own peanut better with no additives in less than 40 seconds. I NEED ONE! or when watering the garden you look at the parsley growing wild and say to yourself If I had a Thermomix I could use that parsley to make parsley oil in 8 minutes. Or Pesto. I CLUCKING LOVE PESTO. It goes on and on.

Well played, Thermomix lady, well played.

To date, I’ve remained Thermomix-free, but I that’s only because I am ALERT AND ALARMED.

The power of this cult is strong.

And I really enjoy a Margarita.

Consider yourself warned.

 

 

A is for anxiety

Post natal depression affects one in five Australian mothers, and I’m included in that statistic.

Think of five babies you know… one of their mother’s was/is/might also be suffering. It’s a big deal but one that isn’t often talked about openly by anyone other than medical professionals.

For me, it didn’t manifest as depression, but I was wracked with such intense anxiety I often struggled to breathe. I didn’t sleep longer than four hours at a stretch in ten months, and many of my thoughts were completely irrational. A level of this is normal with all new mothers, but my anxiety quickly became out of control.

I felt nothing but intense love towards my daughter, but I mourned my past life – the ability to take the dog for a bushwalk unencumbered, to spontaneously meet a friend at the pub, or to take a yoga class in my lunch-break.  I felt so selfish for even thinking those thoughts. I also struggled with working out what my new role was – the intense feeling I had to mother this child was overwhelming and consumed me – I became obsessed with things outside my control – like whether she would sleep or not, and for how long. I’d check her 100 times a night to make sure she was still breathing, I bought raw organic ingredients I sourced from farmers to puree everything from scratch, I was militant about breastfeeding… and I had to remind myself to smile. I even wrote a reminder to myself on my hand one day.

The worst thing about it was that when I was in the midst of it, I had NO IDEA what was going on. I was just surviving, thinking this was part of being a martyr mother. Looking back on it I shudder as I now realise what it’s like to be crippled with anxiety that rocks you to your core. It creeps up on you and then controls every muscle, every thought, every moment.

You lose weight. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat. You forget how to laugh. You struggle to be a good friend, wife, even mother.

I survived – it helps when you come from a family of crazies as it often takes a crazy to know a crazy.

I also had a champion husband and a wonderful counsellor from Tresillian who visited my house every week and was able to coach me through a new way of thinking. I had to learn how to sleep again. Now, every time I think I’m being selfish – by doing something away from my child like getting my haircut – I need to think of it as survival. I now have the ability to STOP anxious and irrational thoughts, and feel this experience has made me stronger than ever. Now I understand the warning signs, I won’t let this consumer me again.

And I can pass on my five main failings that are essential for a new mother’s survival guide:

  1. A mother needs to be mothered,
  2. You need to make time to spend doing something you love by yourself,
  3. You need to sleep,
  4. It takes a village to raise a child, if people offer to help – let them,
  5. No mother is perfect and you can’t have it all.

Having a baby makes you see the world through fresh eyes.

You start noticing cars, hearing sirens, watching planes and playing with leaves – because all these things fascinate your baby.

It’s also made me think about how I will talk about some of life’s tougher lessons as she grows. Eating disorders, bullying, drugs, and mental illness.

Anxiety and depression are words I want my daughter to grow up with – there have been two suicides in my family in the past three years, and I don’t want them swept under the carpet. The black dog is barking at our heels and only with courage and determination can we keep that bitch at bay. We have to talk about mental illness to protect our children.

A is for anxiety. I’m going to start the dialogue early.

Hating on my mate, Rebecca Judd

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I’m exhausted today – not because our daughter has 800 teeth coming up and down all at once, but because I was up all night glued to my phone, watching videos of Rebecca clucking Judd teaching me how to curl hair in less than 10 minutes.

Can the woman be any more perfect?

I’m a transient follower of models and entertainers on Instagram… I follow them diligently until they post something annoying and then gleefully BLOCK them from my life forever.

It’s clucking theraputic.

Miranda Kerr? GONE! After she posted one too many Namastes.

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Kim Kardashian? GONE after one too many oversharing scenarios.

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Myley Cyrus? As much as I enjoy watching a trainwreck – it just got too much. GONE!

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But I can’t for the life of me, block Rebecca clucking Judd and her perfect hair and her perfect husband and her seemingly perfect life.

We’ve come too far in our relationship.

I’d never even heard of her before Instagram, and now… I know too much. We’re friends in the way she gives me a lot and I take it all…

I know what art she has in her house, where she bought her side-table from, I was there, beside her, when she custom-designed her new Range Rover. And her husband – ‘Juddy’ – is not too bad at running either. Have you seen the video? Do you know he wears Jaggard sportswear? And Bec? I feel like I can call her that now we’re mates, she’s three-quarters pregnant and still sashaying down the runway of Instagram looking like she’s had a few extra wontons for dinner. A few nasty people have commented that she’s too thin, but they get shut down by her loyal followers, like me, and promptly put in their place.

Gah!

I want to block her – I really do. But I can’t quite yet. I just need to wait to see what flavour her baby is and see what brands pay to be featured in the nursery and what she uses to puree food and the inevitable shot of her post-baby figure, perfect in less than three minutes after giving birth. You see? I’m too involved.

Her life is pure fantasy when compared to mine – but I’m not willing to let her go just yet…  besides, she just seems so… nice.

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Having a kid should make you more employable, not less

An article written in Women’s Agenda made me clench my teeth and sweat – and not in a good way.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Annual Report, for the first time pregnancy discrimination is now Australia’s number one complaint against employers, with pregnant women facing more discrimination than those with a disability. The report also found more people believe their family responsibilities see them treated differently by their bosses.

My experience saw comments by (only male – never female) co-workers start flying as soon as I was married – which was an unexpected shock and perhaps naivety on my behalf as I didn’t even consider the act of declaring love for someone could automatically set off alarm bells around whether I was a risky employee or not.

A year after I was married I went for a new job and in the interview the CEO looked at my engagement ring and said “I can see you’re married and I want to make it clear that we expect a three-year full-time commitment from you”. During a second interview potentially starting a family was again brought up, not by me, and the CEO this time said: “From talking to you I think you’re the kind of woman who if you had a baby would only take six weeks off, and we’re OK with that if that’s the case”. I didn’t take that job – even though I had wanted it before I’d met the CEO – as having a family was on the cards and I knew they would have made it difficult for me to work at their organisation – I weighed up the risks and decided it just wasn’t worth it. That same week in an interview for another job the again male CEO asked me straight out if I wanted to start a family soon. I swear it must have been written in caps lock on my head or something.

The entire employment process is completely clucked  because after getting married, I was made me feel, perhaps unintentionally, like I would be letting any employer down by having a child. I felt guilty when I found out I was pregnant. When in hindsight that’s a crazy emotion to have about bringing a child into the world.

Thankfully I took a job with an employer who was thrilled for me when I became pregnant, and has made it easy to return to work post-baby. I love the days I have in the office, which in many ways are much easier and more rewarding than the some days spent at home.

I believe employers have it wrong if they think a woman who may become pregnant is a risk. In fact it’s an asset. Having a child gives you a much richer life experience, makes you a top negotiator, more efficient, a master at time-management and incredibly resourceful. Having a child makes you more empathetic, able to get through anything on two hours sleep, and gives you huge perspective – office politics don’t matter when you have a family waiting for you at home .

In my case I believe the life lessons from pregnancy and having a baby has made me a much better employee. It’s a shame we still have a lot of work to do for other people to view it in the same way.

 

A blog about blogging

Hello dear friends! Remember me?

I’m the chick who blogs about writing blogs and leaves you for long periods of time in between posts because life gets in the way.

Well, you are in for a treat because every day in November I’m going to write a blog.

Before you shudder and auto-delete me from your inbox, hear me out.

It’s not about you, it’s about me.

This Matt guy (not my husband) is a genius. The 30 day challenge actually works.

I’ve just come out of 30 days of gardening and our backyard looks like a modern-day parkland (modern because our dog digs and leaves holes) and my 30 days of cleaning challenge has seen our cleaner tell me she doesn’t have to come anymore because I can actually clean for myself (true story!) AND my 30 day cooking challenge has seen me give our daughter something new to try and eat every day.

So instead of walking around writing blogs in my head I am going to sit down at my computer and write a blog every single day in November.

You won’t see them all on here, I actually get paid real money to ghostwrite another blog, but I am going to stop procrastinating and start blogging.

Starting with this one. Another blog about writing a blog. Nice one.

 

Happy dead dad’s day

Out of all the days my dad chose to die* on the one date that would really hit home every year. Clucking Father’s Day.

I approach it, and the whole month of September, each year with the enthusiasm of  URGHHHHHH.

For years my sister and I would ring mum and wish her a Happy Dead Dad’s Day, which wasn’t very funny to anyone listening in to our phone conversation, but it was hilarious to us. And a bit sick.

But this year, for the first time, it wasn’t about him. There was a new dad in our midst. And even though I started the day cranky and irritable (with a good excuse for once), I had to cheer up and celebrate because this year it wasn’t about me. I took our daughter to a local ceramics shop and had her hand and footprint painted on a mug which was decidedly kitsh enough for the occasion, and I tried to keep my bad mood at bay.

The truth was I was pissed. Our daughter will never have the opportunity to meet one of her grandfathers. I want him to be part of her life, as he was a huge part of mine. I want to feel as if she knew him, even though she’ll only know my version of him.

It’s difficult to condense the life of the most important man in the first-half of my life in 10 points, but here’s a start.

10 things I want our daughter to know about my dad

  1. My dad would hide behind furniture – walls, doors and wine tanks to jump out and scare you when you least expect it, only to give you a ridiculously huge bear-hug once you’d got your breath back, that trick started when we were 1 year-old and never got old. For him at least. 
  2. He was passionate about organic viticulture – and had wine-stained hands to prove it. He made full-bodied wine that is a pleasure to drink with friends. He’d want any kid of ours to invest time and effort into making lasting friendships, and then making them drink good wine. 
  3. He was exceptionally generous – with his time and money – if you were his friend you were with him for life, and every meeting would be filled with his exuberant energy.
  4. He loved his toys – he had 110 acres of land, and that required three tractors, two slashers, a rotary hoe, at least seven different types of ploughs, five sheds, two houses, seven chainsaws, two ride-on mowers, two big dams and two little dams, a four-wheeler, ride-on-mower, farm ute and paddock basher.
  5. He worked hard and partied hard – and was no shrinking violet – if you didn’t feel like talking you’d make sure to sit next to him at the table. He was naughty and cheeky and most people loved him. He was prophetic and knew he wouldn’t live a long life, so made every second count. In school holidays I once worked by his side all day, went out to dinner with him with friends that night, then went home in time to start picking grapes at midnight. I worked a 40-hour shift with him and when I asked him why we went out to dinner instead of having a sleep, he looked at me like I was crazy and replied ‘because Sal, you only live once’. ay as well make it a good life.
  6. Sometimes he was an arsehole, but we still loved him. He didn’t suffer fools, wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and loved an argument – even if he didn’t believe what he was saying. He was a fierce debater and had a tough exterior, but was gooey on the inside and would do anything to protect those he loved.
  7. He believed the environment was a finite resource, and needed protection. Every thing he did he thought of the impact it would make on the next generation. As well as the environment he loved animals and would save anything he could. He drip fed a sick blue-tongue lizard when we were kids, and I once found a lamb on the road and brought it home to give to Dad to raise. He got a vet to come out to give it a local anaesthetic to have its balls removed, saying if he wouldn’t do it to himself, he wouldn’t do it to an animal. He believed in reincarnation and said he’d come back as an eagle. Every time I see an Eagle I think he’s saying Hi.
  8. He spent most of his life in a considerable amount of pain (he lost one leg in a motorbike accident, had a triple heart bypass and kidney cancer) – yet I NEVER heard him complain. One time he had been bitten by a white-tipped spider and calmly asked if something was on his back (there was a hole the size of 50c) before driving himself to hospital without saying a word to us. He was the bravest person I have ever met.
  9. He had three rules when it came to dating men 1. they had to play rugby union 2. they had to be in 1st grade and 3. they couldn’t play on the wing. (I broke all the rules as soon as he died.)
  10. He called me salad, darling and Sal. I think about him often – sometimes with a bit of a heavy heart but always with a smile.

*Dad didn’t actually choose to die on that day – that day chose him. It wasn’t really his fault at all. He died happy, watching Australia win the Bledisloe Cup. Australia hasn’t won the cup again since he died back in 2001. He definitely wouldn’t have had anything to do with that, and would be shouting inflammatory comments at every grandiose Rugby game from wherever he is. He died before September 11. I’m happy he didn’t have to see that.

My dad with his girls (I'm the blonde - not letting go of his arm).

My dad with his girls (I’m the blonde – not letting go of his arm).

Knitting makes you smart

My latest 30-day challenge has seen me taking up knitting with gusto.

Yes that’s right. Knitting. As in the knit one, purl one variety.

Did you get the memo? Knitting is the new black*.

Gillard was a knitter. Well technically she probably still is, but people don’t talk about it any more. Katherine Heigl = knitter, Cameron Diaz = knitter, Julia Roberts = knitter. See people, everyone’s doing it.

And it’s making me smarter.

As a beginner I still need to focus my attention on the yarn at hand – making the ABC the perfect knitting companion. I finally get why my mum (and other old ducks around Australia) anticipates the 7pm news with knitting needles at the ready. It’s the perfect knitting soundtrack. Q&A no longer irritates the cluck out of me, I appreciate the long-winded non-answers from politicians as I don’t have to look up to watch the screen very often. Leigh Sales is my new home girl – her interviews make the best knitting entertainment as you can laugh out loud without dropping a stitch.

I’m making a blanket. For a bed, or a cot, or a pram depending on how long I obsess over knitting. Mum says I’ll probably end up knitting a bookmark so I am determined to prove her wrong.

Not convinced? Don’t commit me (yet). I am going back to work next month. Until then, if you need me, I’ll be knitting.

Stitch and bitch. It's the new black. I only know how to knit squares. I can't turn corners. Yet...

Stitch and bitch. It’s the new black. I only know how to knit squares and I can’t turn corners. Also the pale pink square on the right-hand-side is really wrong so I have carefully placed the yellow square over it so you can’t spot all the holes. That one was before Leigh came into my life.

* This is based on a vox pop of one. Me. So it’s totally made up.

 
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