Sunday, December 11, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Sometimes it seems that all the 'self-help' advice out there isn't really self-help at all. It seems as though it's designed to make the reader feel as though self-improvement of the specific type offered on the page they're reading is not just an option, it's imperative to their very self-worth.
Being an avid reader and interested in what others think, I often read the newspapers. I try to avoid the magazine and lifestyle supplements but when I do flick through I often feel my hackles rising. I have to remind myself that just because a journalist has written it, doesn't make it a fact. Sometimes I come across a well-written piece that gives me pause for thought. But often the push to continually improve ourselves (in the specific way described by the journalist) seems to be all-incompassing in our media as to be very difficult to avoid, even for the casual observer. I am quite tired of being told sugar is poisoning me, caffeine is bad, caffeine is good, I must eat 5 veg and 2 fruit every day (and that most people don't), I must drink 8 glasses of water, I must do yoga and some other form of aerobic exercise 3 times a week. I am tired of being told how to get 'bikini ready' on one page while reading 'tips to boost my self-esteem' on the other. The former usually involves the latest celebrity du jour exalting over how the weight 'just fell off' or advocating a punishingly unrealistic workout/diet combination. The latter usually involves 'slowing down', 'stopping to smell the roses' and re-prioritising my life. Then there are the tips on how de-cluttering is good for the soul, or you should shake things up and go against your inclination, make your bed, don't make your bed, try to be deliberately whimsical. And my favourite clanger: how to 'have less stuff' while the next page peddles the latest in designer goods.
The problem with all of the above is that it seems to be written with one mythical 'reader' in mind. And that person does not exist. It is certainly not me. It all comes down to tone. If I feel that I am being sold 'tips and tricks' which are basically designed to make me feel like whatever I am currently doing is falling short of the mark, I don't want to know. On the other hand, I do enjoy reading personal stories and finding out how others have made positive (or negative) changes in their own lives. I'm happy to read about what worked for them, and why. Who knows, maybe with my exemplary deductive powers I may even be able to glean a lesson in there for me, or apply one or all of what that person learnt to something to do with my own situation. But please do not talk to me as if I am 'everywoman', as though we are all stressed, we are all too busy, we are all one thing or another. Don't pretend to talk to me, or that you know who I am. I really can't stand those kinds of sweeping assumptions. I prefer the particular to the general.
One study says you need to 'de-clutter' your living space, another says that messy desks are a sign of creativity. Guess what? People have different personalities. Some are compelled to clear all spaces of junk, others are happy to let it sit there. Neither is morally superior. Personally, I let a certain amount of detritus build up and then one day I can't stand it, so I do a mass clean-up. Depending on what day you catch me, I'm either an anally-retentive neat-freak or a disorganised mess. Why the implication that one or the other will make you a better person?
I can't stand bandwagons. I try to avoid jumping on them wherever possible. The sugar-free bandwagon - I've read about it, seen how it changes people's lives. Good on them. But I've got a enough to worry about without being anxious that the Tim Tam I just had for morning tea is somehow poisoning me. All the articles I've read about people giving up sugar are ones where the person giving up was a former sugar overloader. The guy who wrote the book went from drinking some ridiculous number of litres of Coke a day to quitting outright. No surprise that he lost weight and felt better. But I prefer moderation, so don't call it poison please!
Some old chestnuts have been around forever - the drink 8 glasses of water a day theory for one. I was overjoyed to read an article today dispelling this as a myth. This journalist actually quoted more than one medical professor to back up her claims. It turns out that the body is designed to tell you when you need to drink water - you get thirsty! How marvellous. I no longer need to do a mental calculation halfway through the day and force down another glass of water that I don't feel like (or alternatively, feel mildly guilty for not doing so).
My husband, an eminently sensible man, has always eaten and drunk according to how hungry and thirsty he is. He has exercised just exactly as much as he wants to. He is one of the fittest and healthiest people I know. He doesn't care about the recommended daily intake of anything. He loves riding, so he cycles up to 200km a week. This is not my cup of tea - I can do 30km (on the very odd occasion) in a stretch and that's about it. But I feel good. I run around with the kids. I like to read. Quite a bit more than my husband. But he doesn't give me 'tips' on what I need to do to improve my fitness and I don't give him 'tips' on how he really should be reading more to improve his brain. We each leave it to each other to decide whether, when and what we would like to improve about ourselves. We support each other's capacity to do so, but we don't dictate what that should be. Unlike the media. Perhaps if we had more media that focussed on sharing information and stories to support the community's capacity for self-improvement, and leave the whether, when and what to individual choice, we would have healthier and happier citizens. When it comes down to it, we're all on our own journey, there is always something we could each improve on, but it's up to us to figure that out. I don't need to be told by a magazine that I don't measure up.
It seems to me that people are different. Some are naturally physically active, others are more bookish. Some are creative, others are more practical. We don't have to be one or the other, we can be elements of both. I think there is definitely value in pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones - so if I know that exercise doesn't come easily to me, it would be prudent, in order for me to be a well-rounded, healthy individual, to push myself to do a bit of exercise now and again to maintain good health. If I have a particular sweet tooth, every so often I might want to remind myself to lay off the chocolates. But if I never read a book, it would be useful to exercise my mind a bit too, or if I am emotionally less intelligent, I might want to explore that side of myself that helps me relate to others. We all have things that come easily and things that don't. Body policing and assigning a higher value on physical fitness than mental health comes at a cost for the entire community. That is not to say physical fitness is not valuable, but to me, it is equally as valuable to be a good person, kind, intelligent. Some things you can change, others you can't. Shaming those who are different (which, HELLO, is every one, to some extent), is not the way to enable a healthy society.
I would so love to see more articles being written that research into the facts, quote people who really are educated not just self-proclaimed 'experts', and tell personal stories that allow the reader to make up their own mind rather than showing or telling them what they must be. Is it too much to ask?
Friday, July 1, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Sometimes a perfect day just sneaks up on you when you least expect it. In fact, I've found that's almost always the way it happens. When you painstakingly plan, expect and hope, it's hard for the outcome to live up to your expectations. But sometimes, in the midst of all the general humdrum of daily life, the anxiety, the to-do lists, the kids whinging and bickering, the tiredness - a perfect moment or two might come your way. And if you're really lucky, it might stretch out into a day.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
So I went to the conference mainly for the social interaction with bloggers and tweeps I had only up till then met online, and also as my background is in writing and communications I felt there was a neat tie-in there, which almost lent me some kind of credibility.
When I got there I was amazed by the warm reception I was given by every one, whether I had met them before often, fleetingly or not at all. The turn of the day's events plus the love in the room have combined to provide me with both the motivation and material I needed to go ahead and set up my own 'proper' blog. So here it is.
Warning: I am going to name-drop the shit out of this first blog post, both to share the love and to make myself seem very, very important.
After the 'whoop-whoop!' style enthusiasm of Brenda from Mummytime opened the conference, there was an ice-breaker called 'People Bingo'. What started out as a nice social mixer brought out my competitive side until, with two spaces left to fill, I was racing from group to group screaming "Which one of you mofos can do the splits/make a croquembouche!? Huh! No one? You're no use to me! Outta my way!" While I may have lost some friends in that initial crush, my tactics meant I won some Baker's Delight vouchers. Totally worth it (also worth if to find out that one of the few men present could do the splits - mad skillz ahoy).
The panel discussions that followed were a valuable way to listen to various points of view, offering some great tips about blogging such as use of twitter to facilitate your blogging. One great tip was to link from your twitter page to a landing page on your blog for twitter followers rather than just the front page of your blog. The panel format meant that no one had to 'go first' and deliver a long speech, it was interactive and dynamic and a great way to deliver that style of information.
The breaks were a mad rush of introductions and a grab for as many pastries as we could fit in the time allotted (oh, was that just me?). The scandalous gossip was reserved for later in the evening (more on that later). I made some new friends who were seated at my table : Adam (originally from Adamstown - I love it) Julie, Dee and Clare.
The standout of the day's offerings (aside from the Lindt-and-other-goody-packed swag bags, it goes without saying) was the My Blog, My Story session in which six stunning, unique, bloggers told their beautiful, emotional stories. There was not a dry eye in the house as they opened up about the trials and tribulations of their blogging life. Some said it saved them during their darkest days to have that online community at their side, full of love and support. Some outlined the perils of being misinterpreted or accidentally setting off a chain of events that allowed their families to be taken advantage of. All of them were touching, and I must commend the bravery of these women. To stand up and tell their stories in a room full of people is a very different thing to the degree of protection afforded by sitting in a room in front of a computer.
You can read more about that at Life in a Pink Fibro but I'd like to repeat Al's thanks to Tiff at My Three Ring Circus, Lori at Random Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mum, Magneto Bold Too, Karen at Miscellaneous Mum, Carly at Tune Into Radio Carly, Kim at FrogPondsRock
We also heard some hella funny blog posts read out by some of our favourite bloggers, Bern Morley and the NDM
Edenland and MummyMayhem
an honest and gut-wrenching post by Kim at allconsuming
a heart-stoppingly lovely poem read by Kristin at Wanderlust_lust
and a sobering but beautiful piece by Mark Mullins at Blak and Black
Onto the gossip and scandal part of the evening. Not one to name names, suffice it to say that if
undies "falling off" on the dancefloor
some one dry humping a dyson
a newborn winning the prize for 'most enthusiastic' dancer
a bunch of bloggers doing the nutbush
singing into a fork
Salt n Pepa's 'Push It'
dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld
and the funniest bunch of people you could ever assemble in one room
makes for a good night out, then a good night out was had. It was blogtopia.
This post is getting long enough, so I will cut to the chase with my tale of woe: it involved
waking up with the migraine from hell (after drinking one glass of wine the night before - life is so unfair!)
slumping in the hotel lobby in my PJ bottoms, t-shirt and sunglasses (Sarah Pietrzak saved the day not least by saying I rocked the look, which bolstered me somewhat)
absconding to the house of a lovely blogger (who wasn't even at the conference!) and collapsing into her 3-year-old's bed, and
ralphing into a sick bag on the F3 while trying to give directions to Indydreaming.
Did I mention this was the first time I had met Kerri Sackville? It was a great look for me. She sent me away with a bottle of water, box of crackers and bonus towel (which was kind of like a free 'gift with purchase' except for the purchase bit). I am planning on keeping the towel until she becomes a best-selling author (ie later this year), and then auctioning it on ebay.
Ms Dovic, Bern Morley and Annie Reuss administered sympathy hugs while Jo Foster did a pharmacy-run for emergency meds.
As it is my wont I will now provide you with a one-stop-shop for the ausblogcon-related blogs I have to hand (and as a thankyou to you for reading my first post), to save you the hassle of scrolling through the hashtag, I have done it for you and (besides from those listed above) here they are:
Every one I mentioned here (and some who I didn't - apologies for my post-migraine memory fuzz) rocked my little world this weekend, which is pretty damn rad. I'd do it all again (well perhaps minus the migraine).
Thanks so much to the brilliant organisers -see you all next year! (hopefully I'll do another post before then...)