60 And Loving It

Hello France – are you ready for me?

By June 20, 2017 Health

Bonjour!  The only word I know but it’s a start!

In Marseille.  Luggage collected and a wonderful reunion with Christine and meeting her brother Michel, who is lovely and very French.  He speaks as much English as we do French… (so lots of bonjours and side kisses) A brief tour through Marseille then an hours drive north-east to where we are staying. On the property are Christine’s fathers house (with the Australian flag flying for us) and our separate unit a short distance away.

We have a coffee (deliciously French) and Christine runs us through our itinerary for our stay. A village and vineyard a day for our first week is planned.  All I can say is I am so excited… so much to see, do and drink …. hope you’re ready… it’s going to be amazing!

I expected to be able to take a little nap after lunch to recover from the hours of flying… Christine had in mind something completely different…


Time for a beautiful, delectable lunch on an outside table Christine has set up among the vines.  Very French.    Amazing cheeses, salads and of course Champagne… Woooooo – Yes we are definitely in France!













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Christine – My French Connection

By June 12, 2017 France - Provence, Travel

Before you embark on the French adventure with me, you must meet Christine.  Apart from being part of the family (she is married to my brother in law Tim), she will be our personal tour guide in Provence:)

Just to fill you in on why you’ll love this French travel experience with Christine as our guide:

Christine was born in a little village in Provence, France.   Her fathers house is smack bang in the heart of vineyard country (how exciting is that!).   Although her father, (her mother has sadly passed away), no longer owns the actual vines, he owns the house and immediate land plus a flat that is next to his house.  This is where we will mainly stay, with Christine, during our time in France.  Her father is well into his nineties and speaks no English (Christine’s family are long livers (meaning they live a long time – but they must have good livers too – after all, this IS wine country ha ha.  To prove my point, Christine’s grandmother passed away not long ago at 108 years old).

About Christine: Amazing chef. Brilliant artist. Walking encyclopaedia.  Loved by everyone she meets.  She is one of those rare people who radiates zinging energy.  She speaks multiple languages.  She is always happy and has amazing ideas.

You must be wondering by now if Christine sounds too good to be true. You can take my word for it, she is actually this wonderful.  The brilliant thing is you simply do not need to compete with her which is great, and I don’t even try.  Just enjoy her effervescent company and go along for the ride.  (I am naturally lazy and laid back.  I do hope though that I can tap into her energy source to keep up.)

Here in Australia, Christine is flamboyant and talks to everyone she meets… and they all want to help her.  I would love to be like this – but alas it is not really the Australian way.

Once, for example, in Bunnings (a large hardware franchise in Australia), Christine and I were after some timber boards to do some artwork on. Christine stood in the middle of an isle and called out ‘ello, ello’ (the French do not pronounce the ‘h’ on words that actually have them.)   In seconds, four Bunnings men came running – each vying for her attention.  This is unheard of – usually they are as rare as a white Rhino in a supermarket.  Christine charmed them just by being herself and in no time they had climbed to the highest shelf to procure the best of the timber they had!

I am eager to see Christine in her ‘natural habitat’, as David Attenborough would say. Are all the French like this?  Is this just a unique Christine thing?  We shall see.

Tomorrow we will be in France!

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Are you superstitious?

By June 11, 2017 What we think, You

Whether I like it or not, I am…. I live with a complete sceptic so I really should know better.  The brain, however, is all powerful, as you know, and this overrides any logic… or maybe it is the UNIVERSE!

I know that most things can be explained away (heavens there is a thriving sceptics society that completely debunks anything that has no logical explanation.

I blame one of my good friends for my level of superstition. I alway laugh when she tells me to do something or other towards warding off something or other – but I do it anyway – just in case.  Here’s one you’ll love…

Put them on Ice!

Not literally ha ha – just their name.  What you do…  write the name of the person who has wronged you, is negative to you or has harmed you, on a small piece of paper (even their first name is enough).  Then I place this in the ice at the back of the freezer.  Others fold it really, really small, then stick it in an ice cube tray, then stick it in the freezer.  My friend even has the name of a policeman who booked her in her freezer!

Who would have thought.

It’s bad enough that my freezer is now filled with names.  As well, it also has names that my daughters have placed deep in the ice.  A bit embarrassing really that I have passed on this piece of knowledge even though there is NO evidence that it works…or is there?  Maybe it should be more embarrassing that I don’t defrost my fridge!

The names I have in there HAS closed the door on people I don’t want to associate with ever again.

Maybe it is because subconsciously I froze them from my life or the universe did it for me, I don’t care.  It works.

So therefore, it is a good superstition.  IF YOU FEEL BETTER THEN IT WORKS!

The brain is all powerful – we believe what we want – whether is is driving ourselves to exercise more of feeling flat and unworthy – we are what we think.



At last – time for travel – Going to France!

By June 8, 2017 Travel

Leaving my bushland in Australia, despite it’s own unique appeal, (like this big huntsman spider for one) for Provence in France for a 6 week holiday was a no brainer.  My sister in law Christine is (above left), French and has been begging us to visit her on her father’s vineyard.  This is obviously an opportunity too good to miss.

Travelling when you are over 55!

I am taking the opportunity here to chat about travelling when you are over 55.  I picked this age because that is when your kids have flown the nest (hopefully) to start their new phase of their lives.  You have settled, somewhat, into your new life without them. You may have even rediscovered yourself and KNOW what you want to do now with the second half of your life – albeit one a little bit slower, stiffer and heavier (I’m working of this – turning back the clock.)

You may have even rediscovered your partner in a new light.   You’ll notice I have said ‘maybe’.  Of course, that’s because your life depends on you and how you feel.

What I felt was a sense of loss. I’d just spent the last twenty or so years totally dedicated to being an ‘awesome’ (okay, slightly unhinged at times) mother. When my two gorgeous girls became independent with their own lives flowing nicely,

I realized I didn’t know who I was anymore… somewhere along those years, I HAD LOST MY IDENTITY!  Yep, gone, kaput.   Sure, I worked in my own business during those , but my purpose was always to contribute to their well being and provisions (in sport, music, school, clothing blah blah blah).

It took quite a few years of trialling new things to rediscover myself.  At every turn I always came back to something arty.  I am a graphic designer so I suppose this made sense.  I took sculpture classes and fell in love (so much so I now sculpture full time now have even started a whimsical website called Wombat Thoughts

How does all of this relate to travelling though I hear you say.  Even though I had discovered my new found passion I realised I didn’t feel too confident about travelling.  I had a husband who was still engrossed in his work and didn’t see the need to do much travel.  He was prepared to do it when we were ‘older’.  Trouble is, as a woman, I am more realistic.  How much time do we have left in our reasonably fit states so we can REALLY enjoy an adventure.

Luckily the universe intervened in the form of my French sister in law Christine.

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A chameleon and a meltdown

By June 8, 2017 Family

Yesterday I gave you the first part of the story about Chelsea’s job quest.  The mouse was duly delivered and it was time for the second animal – a chameleon.

We had chosen the chameleon because of its ability to adapt rapidly to its environment.  The copy that would match this would reflect this.

The morning started well.  Mother and daughter were bonding.  Chelsea printed out the Chameleon template and set about making it.

Then something changed.

To this day I don’t know what the trigger was.  All I remember was darling daughter being incredibly rude to me. My response:

“I do not expect to be spoken to like that.  I am giving up my time to help you.”

No apology was forthcoming (Chelsea and I are not too good at the ‘sorry’ word ha ha – she actually is very much like me), so I said “I’m out of here” and promptly left the house to meet a friend for coffee and then lunch – as you do.

Here is where I am incredibly proud of Chelsea.  Abandoned as she felt, she continued making up the Chameleon.  She then wrote the copy to go with it (I can’t show you this because I never actually saw it).  She then went to her dad and asked him how she could courier it in to the General Manager at Cutting Edge.  All sorted.

Next morning, when we were to be doing the next animal (I cannot for the life of me now remember now what this one was to be),  Chelsea again snapped at me.  Again I again said:

“Enough! I’m not going to help you”.

This time though she had lost her confidence to continue and no more animals were forth coming.

This was Thursday.  On the weekend as I passed her in the hallway I said “Never leave things unfinished.  You need to directly contact the General Manager on Monday.”

On Monday she sent an email with her website address. On Tuesday she rang.  The response was fantastic.  Kylie (the General Manager) had received her animal models and was blown away.  She explained to Chelsea that although there were no animation jobs available there was a ‘coffee making’ position, was she interested.

Chelsea jumped at the opportunity – this was her foot in the door.

She started work the very next day in position of Star Service Person looking after clients (worth big money) and key management people at Cutting Edge.  It was actually a barista type position – learning to operate a full coffee machine.  She also took lunch orders (Cutting Edge has its own chef).  Her journey had begun and she took every opportunity to become a Cutting Edge advocate.


What is also interesting was that Kylie, the General Manager had started at Cutting Edge as a Star Service person.

In two weeks Chelsea learned the names of all the key people – clients and the Cutting Edge team members.  She also discovered that Cutting Edge used an special effects program called Houdini.

This was not one she had learned at Uni so she set about finding an animator that would be prepared to teach her.  Luckily, there are many who work all day and night at their computers and of course there was one at Cutting Edge called Chris.  Chris, apparently, was quite shy and not overly social.  It didn’t take Chelsea long however to bring him out of his shell.  Very soon he was teaching her the ins and outs of the program.

Chelsea worked her star service position from 6am to 6pm.  She then stayed back until midnight most nights to learn Houdini.  Then an hours drive back home.  Luckily youth has the ability to bounce back quickly.  For me personally it was torture.  I waited up every night for her to arrive home.  Naturally worried – like us mother’s are that she would fall asleep at the wheel or be mugged or something bad.

Finally she was given one day off Star Service to work on special effects.  Then two. Finally full time.  She had been six months in star service.  Chelsea now works on some terrific projects, loves what she does and feels her experience has helped her no end. I just hope Cutting Edge appreciates her and looks after her long term.

If they don’t – well, she now has enough under her belt to walk into any job in this industry.

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How this mouse gave my daughter a job!

By June 7, 2017 Family

My daughter Chelsea completed her degree in animation and was so excited. Like all graduates she felt optimistic about her job prospects.  Until she started applying for them.  She sent in application after application to different companies.  Not enough experience – 5 years minimum.

I’d like to know exactly how are these young graduates expected to get this said experience without a job to give it to them!

She was lucky enough however, to have a job that earned her money, while she was job hunting for one in animation.  It was with an accounting firm.  As you no doubt can appreciate, nothing could be further from an exciting job in animation. Chelsea became increasingly despondent and negative….

Believe me, nothing is scarier than your frustrated child!

Finally my husband and I suggested she resign (we felt she was just becoming too unhappy) and look at doing something else that at least she would feel happy and motivated with.  For a while she worked with us doing web programming and a bit of design work.  Unfortunately, we are a two man band and didn’t have enough work to sustain us let alone pay her.

The mouse that roared

One day she came to me and said:

“Mum, I want to give it one more go to try and get a job in my field, will you help me”.

I am a graphic designer by profession but have done many direct marketing campaigns and copy writing.  When she asked me this, I decided to think of her as my client so I could think laterally.  The first thing I asked her was:

“Where do you want to work – what company do you have in mind?”

Her response was immediate.

“I want to work at Cutting Edge.  They are a special effects company that do all types of creative things.”

Chelsea had visited Cutting Edge on a number of occasions in her job search.  Even being promised in internship if the company had enough work.  This never eventuated but Chelsea was still keen to work there.  She had also met the General Manager, Kylie, at her University presentation evening and been given her business card.  She was impressed by this woman’s confidence and presence.  This then, was WHO we would direct our efforts towards.

Now we had the COMPANY and the WHO to approach, it was time to work out the HOW.

We (Chelsea and I) decided to have think tank each on how we could approach the General Manager directly.  An hour later she came back with the suggestion she could send her a poster showing her skills and directing her (the General Manager) to her web site (Shananimation.com).

“Great idea” I said, “but I think we can do better.  “How about we send Kylie a LIVE animal, starting with a mouse (I’ll get to why in a minute) every day for 4 days – each with a message.”  

Chelsea was horrified!   “That’s just not going to happen” she cried,  ‘That is just too way out, and besides, what if she DOESN’T like animals? What will happen to them after?”

I explained to my 20 year old, that starting with the most ‘out there’ idea and working back is a strategy.  If LIVE animals were out then she could send in cardboard models.  I explained to her too that you don’t HAVE to know how to make them – templates were available on the Canon website.  They had a huge choice that would suit admirably.   My reasoning for 3d models was that Chelsea was a 3D animator.

Chelsea warmed very quickly to the idea – she is quite a visionary like me after all. She set about looking up the canon site for the first animal – a mouse.  She printed out the template for the mouse  and made up it up.

Time to write the accompanying copy.  The key to writing good copy is to put what you are saying in the terms of what benefit will you give the recipient.

The last line that said “More to come” was the teaser.

With the mouse made and the copy written, (which was pasted onto the inside lid of an Apple Macintosh mouse box that I had lying around) time to package it.  She wrapped the box in brown paper.  One more thing to do, however, before it went…

1. Check that Kylie was still the General Manager and

2. Her name had not changed since Chelsea had been given her card (marriage, Divorce etc).

These are two critical elements when carrying out a direct mail campaign.  NEVER get the name or position wrong.

After she had confirmed the details were correct, the package was addressed. We then drove the 55 minutes from our home to the Cutting Edge building.  Chelsea delivered the package to the front desk and we left.  We were pretty certain that a parcel individually addressed, by name to the General Manager, would most likely, only be opened by them.

Day 1 done…    Day 2 – an adaptable creature gets a turn.




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The art of saving money

By June 7, 2017 Money

On Monday, my now 23 year old daughter (the animator one that secured a job with a paper mouse) put a deposit on a $345,000 unit in the Brisbane suburb of Yeronga.  Quite an achievement considering her salary is not overly high.   It has been her goal, since she started working part time at 16, to buy property.

 I do take some credit – even though my own money skills are shite.

When I met my husband back in 1981, he thought I was rich.  Little did he know, until it was too late, that I spent my pay packet from week to week.  When we dated I always paid for myself.  Not because I don’t like to be paid for (who doesn’t) but because I didn’t want him to get any ideas about it being long term.  I wanted to make sure I liked him.  As it turns out he was more than happy with this arrangement for the same reasons.   Growing up, my parents taught me zilch about money.  Part time jobs while still at school were not a thing. Anything required (necessities) were paid for by them.  Macdonald’s and fast food outlets didn’t exist so I didn’t need money for social outings.  Consequently I was pig ignorant about money and have regretted it ever since.

I was determined my two girls would not suffer the same fate.  I wanted them to know they could save and have things that would make them independent in life.  I firmly believe partners should have their own bank account for personal things as well as a joint one for joint things.

I have been married for 33 years and the only thing we argue about is money. My hubby is old school and sees nothing wrong with a fully shared account.  The issue I have had, until fairly recently, is that every time I wanted to buy something I felt obliged to justify why.  We both work from our home and I contribute to the income.  I don’t see any of it though.  It all goes into the house, bills and food and quite frankly, this pisses me off!  I am not asking for ‘my share’, just some independent money for me to spend on me.   Finally, we have now reached an agreement and I have my own (he uses it too if he wants though) savings account.  Money goes in each month.  We came to this because I made it quite clear that if I didn’t have my own money then I’d freely use the Visa card for whatever I wanted…. and I did and it costs a whole heap more!

Back to my daughters.  The best present I believe they have received from me is a little book called ‘The richest man in Babylon’.

From Wikepedia:

The Richest Man in Babylon is a book by George Samuel Clason which dispenses financial advice through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. Through their experiences in business and managing household finance, the characters in the parables learn simple lessons in financial wisdom. Originally a series of separate informational pamphlets distributed by banks and insurance companies, the pamphlets were bound together and published in book form in 1926.

It is timeless and easy to understand the principals exposed.   The girls took to the message and have religiously followed the principals ever since.  As a result they have acquired savings and set themselves up for their future.  Well done Chelsea and congratulations – and aren’t you lucky to have such a wise mum!!

When life dishes you out a lemon – make lemonade

By June 6, 2017 Family

I have spent this morning at the hospital with my wonderful mother in law Elaine.   Nine days ago Elaine fell and bashed her ribs so hard she suspected they were broken.  As a nurse in her younger days, she knew nothing could be done if they were broken and to just take it easy.

Easier said than done when you’re 85 years old with a severe disability to start with.  Just when she felt she was on the mend, last night she turned over in her bed and suffered excruciating pain.  Jim, my father in law, called the ambulance and Elaine was ferried off to emergency at our closest hospital.  I found out this morning and rushed over to be with her.  Her last hospital experience (a different hospital thank goodness), was disgusting.  She was left in a hallway for three hours, freezing cold, unable to move and alone.  I vowed that would never happen again – not on my watch!

Elaine’s fall nine days prior, occurred because she has quite a severe disability to begin with.  It affects her balance and if she becomes slightly off centre, over she goes.  This time it was as she was pushing something into the garbage bin under her sink.  She lost her balance and came down on the corner of the door.  It must have hurt like hell!

‘Mummy, you have to stay alive’.

Elaine’s life changed when she was in her early 40’s.  Driving with her husband Jim and one of their sons Nick, who was 12 at the time, they were returning home to Perth from a trip to Melbourne.

Elaine always felt she should help out with the long distance driving even though she struggled with concentrating on long roads.  I know how she feels because I have this problem too.  Ignoring this fact, believing it to be just mind over matter, she took her turn at the wheel.  Next thing she remembers is that she was lying on the road struggling to stay alive.  She had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Fortunately Jim and Nick were unhurt or she would never have forgiven herself.   Elaine had broken her neck.   They were a long way from help and she recalls feeling she could have easily faded away except for that fact that Nick’s little face was inches from hers and he was saying

‘Mummy, you have to stay alive’.

Eventually she was helicoptered back from the South Australian border where the accident occurred to the Austin hospital in Melbourne.

This was a lucky break (excuse the pun), because the Austin Hospital in Melbourne was a leader in dealing with spinal injuries.  At the time, other hospitals around Australia believed in operating on broken necks and spines.  This would have been a disastrous outcome.  Her neck had broken and folded around her spinal cord, cutting off all feeling below the neck.  She was in fact a quadriplegic.

Nick and Jim stayed by her side in Melbourne not knowing if she would ever recover or feel from the neck down again.  Back home, their other three sons were growing up fast. At ages 15, 16 and 17 these boys, with the help of Elaine’s brother David, simply got on with life – they knew mum would be back soon enough.

Elaine’s life hung in the balance for weeks then she gradually she stabilized.     Bolts were then drilled into her skull and weights were attached to these bolts. Millimetre by millimetre over the next 6 months they stretched her neck bones back into place.  Although her spinal cord had been damaged, affecting the right side of her body,  it had remained in tact.   Three months after the accident Elaine finally felt her hands and feet tingle.

It was to be months more of rehabilitation and pain before she was able to fly home to Perth.  In all the time she had been in the Austin Hospital she drove herself on with the knowledge her boys needed her and she must return.

‘Boys!  I’m home’ she cried – except the boys had gone…

The day finally arrived and she was home.  Naturally her sons were thrilled to see her – but there was a change.  They took over the running of the house and were totally independent.  Boys no longer but capable young men to be proud of.  Except that she then went through self pity and remorse – she felt she had lost her value and was no longer needed.

Women of Elaine’s era self worth, once they were married, came from being the rock of every family.  They didn’t work – husbands simply wouldn’t allow their wives to work!  Their job was to care for the home (housework and meals) and the family (the kids – in every aspect).  Hence Elaine had given up her beloved nursing and become a mother of 4 boys in a time period of 5 years!  (I CANNOT IMAGINE WHAT THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE).


To come home after such a traumatic event from her accident and find things would never be the same again was heartbreaking.  More next blog…

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Can you postpone the ageing process?

By June 5, 2017 Ageing, Exercise, Health

CAN you actually put off (weakness, sore joint 70% of the normal problems of ageing s, bad balance) and eliminate 50% of serious illness and injury?

The answer to this is a resounding YES!  How do I know – because of my latest read ‘Younger next year for women’ and books don’t lie.  

Really though, it’s a book I’m pretty sure you’ll find inspiring.  It will also, if you think like me, be a tad alarmed that if you don’t take note of the message, you will absolutely have a lower quality of life in your seventies and most certainly a crap one in your eighties!   Let’s not even think about your 90’s!

The fact is I don’t want to be using a frame or walking stick or even walking creakily at any age.   You and I need to believe there is an alternative so that we take appropriate action to stop this happening.

The message so far, and I am only into the early chapters, is to exercise! Not a few times a week but 6 days a week!  Sounds excessive I know, but when you read the reasons why you’ll be convinced it has merit.

I’m already motivated enough to do something about it.  This morning I jumped (okay stepped) onto my rebounder and started.  I actually achieved one hour of little jogging. I now feel holier than thou and very smug!  Will I keep it up – you betcha – I AM NOT GOING TO SUCCUMB TO PREVENTABLE AGEING!  Watch this space to see my progress – and PLEASE, do yourself a massive favour and buy this book – I am certain it will keep you young.

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Oops …mini meltdown over garlic bread

By June 3, 2017 Health

You’d think I’d know better now I’m a ‘mature’ 60 year old but last night I reverted to being a petulant teenager.  All over garlic bread!

You see, we had a family dinner for my mother in law’s 85th birthday. Elaine is a wonderful lady, very dignified (unlike me who can, when warranted swear like a trooper).  I was happy to organise the food that we would take to her place (she lives next door with my father in law Jim). The family would then gather there for a beautiful ‘Little house on the prairie’ style evening.  I duly prepared two lasagnes to feed seven people.  My daughter Ashleigh was bringing the salad and garlic bread over and Chelsea my youngest daughter managed to escape bringing anything saying she’d pay me money towards the evening (still waiting).

Everything started well, Ash and partner Mitch arrived and promptly said they wanted to drink and could someone drive them home afterwards.  They live 15 minutes away.   Dummy me, wanting to please (why?) said I’d abstain from the alcohol and be their driver.  I thought a night off the wine was probably a good thing for my health …not mental health though as you will see.

Mistake number one.  I need the alcohol to get in the party mood… especially if I’ve done all the work.  After a very short time where I revelled in their thanks, I realised too late that my soda water just wasn’t going to cut it.

Mistake number two.

Chelsea was arriving from the other side of town a bit late so I went back to our place to wait for her.   Dinner was in Elaine’s oven browning beautifully and all that needed to go in was the garlic bread…which I asked Ashleigh to do.   Chelsea arrived and we joined the others.   THE GARLIC BREAD, HOWEVER, WAS STILL ON THE BENCH!

Such a minor thing but REALLY, how hard is it to do ONE SIMPLE THING!  The excuse,

‘Oh but it didn’t fit with the lasagnes in the oven!’

I opened the oven and placed it next to one of the lasagnes…not rocket science.  Everyone then let me know they thought I was over-reacting and to chill? (Never say that to a cranky woman of any age).

With great effort, I let it go…the lasagne over browned but everyone said they loved it and had a jolly old time.   I enjoyed it but not as I should have.  I then drove Ash and Mitch home.  Sent them a text when I arrived back to say I was home too but they didn’t bother replying. Sigh.

Woke up this morning feeling embarrassed but then thought ‘fuck it – I’m old enough to OWN my hissy fits’.  I’ll never change.  (Sorry about the swearing but sometimes you’ve just got to be firm with yourself).

All is good and I do love my family to bits.  Time for coffee with girl friends that will laugh and say I had every right to be aggrieved. We are always in the right!

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