Instagram changed my life.

Well, not quite.

I was an Instagram virgin up until 90 weeks ago, according to my IG account. I changed phones just so I could have the  Instagram app. I didn’t really know how it worked but I knew I needed it in my life. I’ve always been a sucker for photos especially the edited, enhanced filtered type.

 I got the app , took a few photos put the obligatory cool filter on them and I was happy.

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This was as close as I was going to get to being a professional photographer. I didn’t really know what else to do with it. A few friends added me and in turn I added them but I become bored with their photos because they would show up on Facebook anyway so I would see them twice. Clearly my friends took equally as unexciting photos as me. Shit got stale real quick.

A few more months in and I slowly started to find and seek out some Instagram accounts that would turn my wheels so to speak. I let the process evolve naturally only adding exactly what i felt drew me in.

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Now this is where I started to find out things about myself that I had forgotten . Things that reminded me of days of old. Things that I left by the wayside as I turned into a mature adult, wife, mother , taxpayer and dutiful employee.

I slowly found another world open up . I could feel myself shed layers of god knows what. Emotional baggage maybe? All I know is it felt right. I felt connected with like-minded people. The fact that they were strangers didn’t matter, it made the experience better.

I found inspiration from all forms, people and things. Inspiration I forgot existed.

This year has been a stressful, frustrating and trying year to date. Personally, family wise, career and financially. I relied on Insta every day to give me that hit of inspiration. It was my escape in to other people’s lives, photos and travels. When things got too stressful I dove straight into Insta so I could live vicariously through others. Not as creepy as it sounds,  trust me.

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Just recently while scrolling through my feed  it finally dawned on me that everyone  on there was representative of who I really was before life’s stresses knocks the shit out of you.

What I subconsciously felt drawn to surprised me. Over time I had managed to clock up a followers list that looked like it belonged to someone half my age. I even felt embarrassed to find enjoyment following some random young woman’s world travels. It became clear to me what makes me happy.

Again, like I said I was drawn to these accounts , it was very organic and something about them resonated with me .

I found myself attracted to anything or anyone that was following the raw food movement. Why? I have no idea or interest in being a high carb raw vegan. None. Pictures of green smoothies, cacao shakes overflowing from Mason Jars and plates of fruit hauls filled my feed. Colourful and healthy vegan families smiling fascinated me. I needed to know more.

Anything that showed sunrises, sunsets, crystals, yoga devotees, positive themes or affirmations. That stuff did actually lift me on those tough days and weeks. I found myself drawn to very positive woman who were half my age but were really kicking arse in the world. Looking at their kids, travels, clothes and what seemed like an awesome life really got me in.

As an old hippie at heart I immediately soaked up anything bohemian and gypsy like. Seeing young woman revelling in this lifestyle through their clothes and the music they listen to was like me stepping back into a time machine with old friends. Except the boho clothes are ridiculously over priced compared to when I wore this stuff. I’ve never seen cheesecloth, velvet or lace so damn expensive. This always makes me chuckle. My friends and I wore it because apart from loving the style it was so cheap.

I bonded with people , usually on the other side of the world who followed the same bands as I did and we shared photos amongst each other. Kindred spirits. I felt connected.

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So no , Instagram didn’t change my life but it did make the hard times just that bit brighter.

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Family Holidays without the Family.

 

 

 

If I could go back in time, what would I tell my 20 year old self ? Travel, travel and travel.

I didn’t travel as a child . My family weren’t travellers , hell we didn’t even go on picnics. The only way I learnt about the world was through Disney movies and World book encyclopedias.

I think it’s cool when young couples take their offspring on adventures around the world. Education right there.

Travel is something I really wished I had experienced before having children. Holidaying with no one to worry about but yourself. Wonder what that’s like?

A few years ago I decided to pretend that I actually didn’t have a family and one lunch hour during work I decided to book a holiday for just myself and my husband. Just a break away without the kids. As I tend to not do things by halves I sort of found myself on the Qantas website and I sort of happened to click onto 2 return air fairs from Brisbane to San Francisco. Yep , that should do it for me, that should whet the appetite for a little getaway. East coast of Australia to West Coast of US of A takes about 14 hours. This is where the fun times start for my husband because he has a massive fear of flying. Even on a 2 hour flight , he is rendered speechless and sweating , so yeah, fun times to be had.  ” Think of all the movies we can watch in peace, ” I said trying to make light of his phobia.

He had not long lost his father to cancer and I think he felt like it might do him some good so he agreed.

Oh yes, that’s right we have some kids! Damn , what to do? The 2 eldest stayed at grandmas and the youngest was passed around between a neighbour, friend and other grandparents. I had all details covered from enough money for school bus fares, lunches prepared and every medication known to man kind. Just in case one of them contracted the Ebola virus while we were gone.

I must say that I had absolutely no guilt at leaving them behind. None. Mother of the year award goes to .. ( not me obviously).

I was frothing at the mouth to do this thing It was like I was starved of travel experiences , well I was. Apart from a trip to New Zealand and the South Sea Islands I had never attempted anything like this especially sans children.

Who doesn’t want to go to America? This had always been my dream . I knew it would happen one day and I knew from a young age. An Australian girl that grew up watching endless Disney, Brady Bunch , Happy Days’ episodes and the rest of the American cartoons and of course teen 80’s movies. Molly RingWald , anyone??  I remember Sunday afternoons as a kid watching The Wonderful World of Disney , where at the start it shows the attractions of Disneyland with the Teacup Ride and the Jungle Cruise. I was obsessed with the teacups and the Jungle Cruise.

As a 7 year old I announced to my mum that “One day I was going to go on those Teacups”.  In that motherly reassuring way she simply replied “No you won’t dear, it’s too far away “. Ok then.

Fast forward  30 odd years as I touch down in San Francisco on the coldest day I’ve ever experienced with a heavy head cold and a husband that hadn’t said a word for 14 hours with plane fright. I was finally here.

Instant love at first sight with this place . Over the next five days San Fran showed off in every way imaginable. From the jazz bars to the baseball game to the huge redwoods in Muir Woods to Alcatraz and of course that bridge- the great Golden Gate. Breath taken. I’m in love. Like Tony Bennett said, I left my heart in San Francisco.

Over the next 3 weeks we cruised on the wrong side of the road from one end of California to the other. I face booked every second of it and left loving FB messages for my kids to which there were no replies . Yeah, they missed us, big time. My husband would ask , “Do you feel guilty ? Do you miss the kids? “.  I didn’t . I really didn’t ( she says with a devious laugh). “They will get their chance one day,” I told him with all the empathy of an Army Drill Sargent. That’s how much I needed this adventure. Care factor zero, zilch and nada. I had worked solidly for years with minimal breaks and now it was my time to shine. I made it up to them by buying ridiculous amounts of shoes, clothes and not much for myself.

The last 2 days saw us at The Happiest Place on Earth. No, not Vegas. Disneyland. Let me get my bucket list out and get ready to tick off those Teacups and Jungle Cruise.

This place really knows it’s shit. I mean really. The attention to detail in every little thing is mind blowing. Every kid needs to go to Disneyland. Except mine , they were at home. “Ok, now I feel guilty,” I said to my husband.

I noticed the Teacups in the distance. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe I did both. I could hear my mums voice telling me “They’re too far away,” in the back of my mind. To my husband’s relief we managed to get a pink teacup –  it was always going to be pink. Told you I was obsessed. We spun and spun and I fucking loved every second. So much so, we did it again.  Next stop was Jungle Cruise . My husband wasn’t familiar with the ride but I knew it inside and out because I had a book about it as a kid. I was near hysterical at this point as I recognised all the animals in it as I  remembered as a kid. I think he even dozed off during the peaceful boat ride.

We stayed at Disneyland until it was time to get the shuttle back to the airport for the long trek home. We arrived home more tired than when we left, the kids were happy for us and we were on a high for months.

Two years after this trip my eldest son did get his chance and went over on a Contiki trip and experienced much more than we did. I’m sure the other boys will eventually do the same.

This was possibly the most spur of the moment, crazy thing I have ever done as a mother . It fed my soul and spirit on so many levels and the memories have stayed with me for years.  I felt reckless , careless and free. Even if it was only 3 weeks.

That Bridge!

 

 

Anyone for a Jungle Cruise? Disneyland

 

 

My girl crush – Jessie the Cowgirl, California Adventure Park.

 

 

 

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

 

 

Marin coastline. SF.

Marin coastline. SF.

 

 

Mirror Lake , Yosemite.

Mirror Lake , Yosemite.

 

Tunnel View, Yosemite

Tunnel View, Yosemite

 

Storm trooper attack on Hollywood Blvd. $1 tip for the photo. Even storm troopers need to make a living

Storm trooper attack on Hollywood Blvd. $1 tip for the photo. Even storm troopers need to make a living

 

Hubby keeping it real at Roscoes in West Hollywood.

Hubby keeping it real at Roscoes in West Hollywood.

 

 

 

 

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Alcatraz

 

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Rec Yard , Alcatraz.

 

 

 

hooray for Hollywood

Hooray for Hollywood

 

 

Highway 1, Big Sur , on a rare rainy day.

Highway 1, Big Sur , on a rare rainy day.

 

Pick the tourist, that would be me, on the Walk of Fame, Hollywood.

Pick the tourist, that would be me, on the Walk of Fame, Hollywood.

 

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Teacups

 

Cheesecake Factory was our second home. I don't know why we bothered with hotels, we should have just stayed here.

Cheesecake Factory was our second home. I don’t know why we bothered with hotels, we should have just stayed here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blame it on Mars in retrograde. Whatever that means.

Apparently we  are in the middle of Mars in retrograde or Mercury something or other and this is meant to cause some crazy shit within us. Inner turmoil , questioning our life moves and motives etc. The past 2 weeks I have seen many Facebook and Instagram posts with people just struggling. Struggling with what life is dishing out and feelings of unease with what the future holds for them. From illness, marriage breakdown , unemployment, money issues and family dilemmas. I am like litmus paper when heavy stuff is going down and I seem to pick up on everyone’s woes. I can see it in my friends photos, read the hidden meaning in their statuses and generally just feel it. It’s the Cancerian in me. image

I have definitely felt it within myself . I get that feeling of being overwhelmed, anxious , procrastinating and basically getting in a dither.  Over the years I have learnt what I need to do. For me it’s almost instinctual but it’s about getting  myself back to basics. Simple living. Simple food, simple work week , simple weekend , simple housework and simple conversation. I already only take on what I want to do. I say NO to unnecessary stuff pretty easily. I refuse to ferry children around to 20 zillion after school activities. Pick 1 sport kid and it better be on a Saturday morning so I can get on with my weekend. I suffered adrenal fatigue years ago which  resulted in a cool dose of glandular fever. Lesson learnt. I know my limits .

My lil  Mars in retrograde came to a crescendo last week with me waking Saturday morning feeling a bit poorly and bone achingly tired. Knowing I had to drive my child a half hour to a football carnival and stay most of the day filled me with dread. My husband couldn’t do it because he had football duty with the other son. Anyway change of plans happened and I hit the jackpot and got to stay home alone. I repeat , this never ever happens. I am never ever home alone. I waited until everyone left then I made an Earl Grey , layed on the bed with the paper , opened to the 2nd page and fell asleep for nearly 4 hours. Once again this never happens to me , I haven’t slept 4 hours in the day since I was 3 months old.   Obviously I needed it , my mother told me. Clearly I did.

It followed a couple of weeks of a list of things that just pissed me off. Nothing outrageous or life changing and for this I have gratitude ( word of the moment ) . Just a cumulative list of bullshit things that when aren’t addressed  immediately tend to sit in the back of your mind festering away until you need a 4 hour sleep in my case.

Assignments that got deleted , burnt dinners , children pushing limits, money issues, people letting me down and generally just feeling disappointed in the human race at times. Blah blah . Nothing heavy.

Outcome of all this resulted in some yucky texting ping pong with a girlfriend of 30 years over a damn holiday. Now this is when shit got real. I still have very mixed feelings over how this all went down but it played out something like this. 2 years ago I made a 3 hour drive to visit my girlfriend and stay the weekend. Over that weekend  on a Saturday afternoon we were laying around eating sweet and salty popcorn watching ‘Bridesmaids ‘ when she told me that in 2015 she will have 10 years service up at her work and will be offered 2 return tickets to anywhere. She asked me if I would go to New York with her but I would have to pay accommodation. Needless to say the answer was a big fucking yes, yes and yes. Did I mention that I said yes? Hell yes. No handshake , no contract signed and no damn pinky swear. Just 2 old friends making plans.

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Cue to last weekend when I received a text from her asking if I was still up for NYC in September next year? Um …..yeah. Let me go pack. In the text she mentioned another girlfriend was coming. Great ! The more the merrier. Excited texts back and forth regarding boroughs to stay in and so forth. I didn’t want to sound like a complete scab and ask about the free return ticket. I worded the next text along the lines of ” Is there still a discount with the airfair?” This is where I stop singing JayZ and Alicia Keys  “Empire State of mind “.

Text back was a blur of something like “Oh I’ve given the free ticket to ( other friend) . You will have to buy your own , but if she opts not to go , it’s yours. Don’t worry babe, I’m sure there will be some great deals with VIrgin or Delta”. I just sat and stared at the text and thought , WOW. Just WOW. I know my girlfriend is kinda ditzy at times and quite aloof and this is what I love most about her , but , Really? This brought all kinds of emotions up, disappointment , confusion, undeserving and feelings of me acting like a spoilt brat. I started to accept it and then the Mars Retrograde set in. Fuck this shit. I knew I was in no frame of mind to ring her and discuss so I continued on with the texts. I decided to jog her memory.

“Actually it was you and I that had this trip done and dusted 2 years ago. Remember ?”  I relayed the story about the popcorn eating afternoon talking about it. Apparently she could just recall it, only just.  ” Did I? Silly me. I’m sure I’ve got dementia. Oh well ” was the response. Awkward . What to do? She started to ring my mobile to which I ignored. I didn’t want to talk about how she had a “blonde”moment. The truth was it wasn’t ok, it wasn’t cool. Was I acting like an ungrateful brat ? Was I ungrateful for now having to pay my own way and sit 19 hours alone on a plane .She genuinely forgot, people stuff up and make mistakes , I get it. But how many times do we excuse people messing us over? It happened and I politely let her know my displeasure. So why now do I feel like the bad guy? I have no interest in going or reclaiming the ticket. Then the other friend misses out on what SHE has been promised. It’s all too awkward .

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Teenagers, friend or foe?

Are teenagers harder to raise today than ever before?

My mum seems to think so. She’s 77 and she raised 3 kids. She asked me the other day how do I keep up with what’s going on with my kids especially my 18 year old? Quite simply it’s hard work, like having another full time job with a mean boss. I get less sleep now than I did when he was a breast feeding newborn.

Anyone that has a few kids will know how different their personalities can be almost to the point that you would think that they come from different families.My boys are so different on every level. Apparently we clash with the child that resembles us the most. I can vouch for that. Absolutely.

My Mr Teenager is practically a male version of what I was like at that age and it took a girlfriend to point that out. Talk about light bulb moment.

I was lamenting to her the other day about how hard I’m finding navigating this area with him . “He is doing this, and that and did I tell you he also done this?”
On and on I went. Waiting for her to give me some of her wisdom.
She didn’t answer for a while , just listening and agreeing.
” Well? “, I asked .”See what I’ve been going through “. “Its doing me in”, I continued to dramatise.

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When she could finally get edge ways in, she started laughing then proclaimed “Fuck! He sounds exactly like you were, Exactly ” … “Remember?”
“What I’m hearing could have been any of our stories back in the day.You’ve described yourself mate”, she laughed.

And she would know.

We go way back and we’ve seen each other at our best and worst. When we were we at our worst , we were hideous creatures. Running amok on the streets of Kings Cross searching for drugs. 17 year of age , Eeeek! At our best , we were healthy, tanned and responsible citizens. We could have moved mountains. Did we ? Not even close. Not even an ant hill.image

Some of the situations we used to get ourselves into I don’t know how we are still alive to tell the tale. We were young, cute, free and fearless . Exactly like my kid.
I remember those feelings well.

It all started to click, Damn it, that’s why we sometimes clashed.

Being a former deviant I am well aware of the fun that’s to be had so this puts me a few steps ahead of him and it’s exhausting. It’s like I know what his next move will be because its probably the move I would have taken. Although I would have taken a couple more steps and then some.

Talking to different parents over the years, the ones that seem to be more relaxed with the teenage thing are the parents who obviously didn’t seem to get up to much mischief when they were young. It’s very easy to pick through conversation and even now at BBQs or parties , they are the people that bore me the most.
So this is the Catch 22 , I want him to have his fun and create memories that will make him and his friends laugh and cringe in later years.

“Pull back , pull back, let him get it out of his system” . She assured me.
“You turned out alright didn’t you? and as I remember correctly you were a tad worse than him”.
I was , I actually really was. I know my kid isn’t into drugs, I know this to be true. He is more focused than I was at his age. He isn’t an out there risk taker and he drinks minimally. An angel really.

Fear is what drives my parenting a lot and I am learning to get a grip on it. Trusting that he will be alright in the scary world. Trust in the universe that he won’t stumble and fall. I know this is a rite of passage in order to grow into sensible and fulfilled humans BUT I know the fine line of how quick things can take a swift turn backwards.
Relax and trust the process. Ok. I’ll see what I can do. Can’t promise anything though.

It doesn’t seem so long ago I was a teenager, in fact I remember it just like yesterday. I know all the tricks of the trade and I was so good at them.

My 18 year old is pushing all the freedom buttons and it’s not fun . Yeah yeah I know he is 18 and legal to vote, drink, drive and whatever else you can do at 18. Still living at home though means still my rules. Boundaries and respect.

When I was 18, there was nothing more that I liked to do than drink, get high and chase boys. Oh and buy records. That was pretty much it. I think back to what my girlfriends and I got up to and it seemed pretty harmless back then. We didn’t steal anything or hurt anyone or bully anyone. We were having fun. We broke a lot of hearts and a lot of rules but we were quite frankly living the dream. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. You have no idea.
All I can say is , thank god there was no internet.

Trust in the process. It’s on my to do list. One day.

Aside

Lunch- boxes or works of art?

I’ve stumbled onto quite a few Instagrams of late that are just about kiddies lunchboxes. Mums that take photos of their child’s perfectly put together lunch for the day. It’s addictive to watch and I’m kinda obsessed with this whole phenomenon.

Mothers who make lunches for their small kiddies for daycare or Kinder,  you may want to turn away now .

You may have mixed reactions . You will never view your child’s lunchbox in the same way again. I actually want to have another child just so I can do this new funky lunchbox thing.  I thought I was all smug when I bought the lime green divided Tupperware sandwich keeper but this is next level stuff.

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These aren’t any old thrown together lunch-boxes but more like mini works of art. Sandwiches cut into butterfly shapes, perfect pieces of colourful fruit cut and displayed in patterns, fun little containers or skewers that hold little chunks of food in to place. It’s all about the assessories that you put in to the lunchbox too like Little Kitty mini sauce containers , pastel coloured tiny plastic moulds for food to be presented in and cute skewers that you pop into the top of chunks of food. The list of cuteness goes on and on. I kinda like it , it’s adorable in fact . I wanna know who has this kind of  time on their hands in the morning to prepare these mini masterpieces then take snaps of them for all to see? I don’t know about you but I’m flat-out boiling the jug in the morning let alone put on a lunchbox spread of this magnitude.

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I am trying to picture my dear mum back in the 70’s dissecting my jam sandwiches into unicorn shapes and chopping up my Vegemite Saos into layers of symmetrical perfection for my lunch.Then taking a photo of it and sharing it around with her girlie friends . Hilarious how times have changed .

The pressure of New Year’s Eve .

It only seems like last week I was sitting around on the eve of a new year contemplating the year just gone. Here I am doing it again. The last few days have been a head swirl of hopes, dreams and ideas for 2014. No resolutions , I just can’t follow through. I have a mish  mash of how I want my next year to be. That’s all it is. A mish of mashed up bits and pieces. I want to just flow into it. No guns blazing for me.

I wanted to write a blog for my transition to the new year but just didn’t know how to start. I needed a WORD to sum everything up nicely. That word didn’t come.  That was until last night. I was watching ” Wanderlust ” a hilarious comedy movie with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston. In the movie this couple stumble onto a hippie commune and realise that this way of life is exactly what they need and have been searching for. No pressure from the outside world, no deadlines, no bills to pay just free loving and blissful days. And no I’m not ready to run off to join the Hare Krishna’s. Stay with me on this.

There is a scene where Ms Aniston had really transformed herself from a stressed out suit wearing woman to a hippie chick. Messy hair, beads, shoeless, pot smoking and basically free . A free spirit. A gorgeous one at that.

My husband turns to me and says ” that used to be you, that’s exactly how you were when I met you “…..

Now this is the bit where I would normally take great offence and go into a sulk and wound him with my words. For some reason I didn’t and I completely understood where he was going with this. It was true. Sadly very true.

Calmly I turned to him and said , without even thinking about it,… ” she’s still here, I’ve just lost her along the way somewhere” . “She has slowly been beaten down by being a responsible adult, wife and mother” .

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It felt sad to even say it. It was like someone else was talking for me. I got it and he got it.

I WAS the character in the movie. Free spirited, strong willed but soft natured. Creative and whimsical. Loving and fun, willing to try anything . Where the fuck did I go ? I see glimpses of her after a few drinks, glimpses of her when trolling through the local hippie markets and glimpses of her late at night when everyone is asleep and I can think and recall fond memories.

In 2014 I am going to start looking for her again. She was kinda cool what I remember of her and everything else can fall into place where it needs to.