Allowing Ourselves to Be Happy

I'm moving to Happy StreetI wrote recently about how I want to change the words I use after I say, “I Am…”  Today I read a blog post from a woman I met at a blogging workshop in Brisbane last year.  She’s funny, creative, clever and terrific to sit next to at a workshop.

Debbish wrote a post yesterday titled “Getting Out of the Way” and it spoke to me.  I know you know what I mean about reading things just when you need them and how powerful they can be?  That’s the sort of post this was.  In a way it was like I felt when I read about changing what I say after I am.

She writes that nobody can give us permission to be happy but ourselves (and I believe nobody can take our happiness away unless we give them permission as well).  To get rid of what’s holding us back we need to challenge our assumptions and identify our underlying beliefs.

While my personal situation is much different from Deb’s, the self-doubt, the questioning of why I am where I am and do I deserve anything more than what I have already is very much the same.   Here’s one of her confessions:

“Although I don’t want to be fat and single forever and although I WANT to be attractive to the opposite sex, I overeat and binge-eat – making me fat. And single.” Ta da!”

The thing is, I’ve met Deb and I don’t see her the way she sees herself at all.  To me, she is smart, clever and funny, not to mention really attractive.  The weight?  She’s rounder than she’d like to be but that doesn’t stop anyone from finding someone fantastic to love.  She admits that she knows there are people like me who know she’s attractive and desirable but until SHE can feel that way, she’ll never reach out to a man.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  After reading about her self doubt and things she cannot seem to change — I asked myself, “Ddo WE have similar issues that are in our heads and not in any way real?”  I suspect we do.  These underlying beliefs keep us where we expect to stay, all the while yearning for something different.

For me, that’s where changing the words after “I am” hopefully will make a difference because I Am…  clever, compassionate, friendly, kind, intelligent, caring, thoughtful, attentive, respectful etc., etc.  No more will I buy into what my mother said about (and to) me when I was growing up.   I’ve lived a lifetime hearing in my head and also saying aloud,  I am not… living to my potential, a slut, a horrid writer, selfish, fat, undesirable, unlovable and more things that still hurt to think about.  After reading all that you’re only wondering why my mother told me I was a slut, right?   A group of friends were outside at our house when I was 18 (seriously) and the girls got on the boys’ shoulders and we tried to knock each other off.  I was slut because a boy’s head was between my legs.  Yes, now you know why I’m fucked in the head but see how far I’ve come!

Please visit Diet Schmiet and follow Deb.  She’s got a lot to say and I like it all.

I Am…

I am...   wonderfulI went walking at Point Cartwright this morning with my friend Madonna and during our conversation she said she’d come across a terrific post about the use of the words I Am.   When it comes to negative self-speak I think you’ll find I wear the crown.

Just today I heard myself say in my head:

“We’re so broke for the next two weeks.”
“I wish I could have afforded to go to the workshop last night.”
“Will my back pain EVER go away?”

Notice that there were no positive thoughts in there like:

“We’re earning more money and in a couple of weeks we’ll be fine.”
“My back feels a bit better today and it will get better as I walk more and lose a bit of weight.”
“Our creativity is amazing.  We’re getting so many new things launched.”

So nobody needed to hear about “I Am” more than I did today.   I could give you a library of I am nots.   If I do anything good for myself in 2013 it will be to overcome the vision I have of myself as I am NOT everything under the sun.  I need to listen to the voice inside me that knows I’m clever, friendly, giving and kind.   I plan to trust that voice again.

I can hear some of you say, “it’s taken you THIS long to get here?”  Yeah, well, sometimes I’m a slow learner and I’ve been getting my ass kicked by the universe for several years now and it’s time to take stock and listen.   I know I’m not alone in waiting a lifetime to learn these lessons and if I could tell someone much younger, this is what I’d say.

You are special and you are unique and you came into this existence with a plan but it’s gotten a bit fuzzy since you arrived.  You can find clarity and purpose but only when you get quiet and listen to that inner voice of yours.  It will never steer you wrong.

How do I know this?  I’ve proved it.  I lived a glorious life filled with love, laughter and money and then forgot how.  I’m working my way back but when I was on top I was meditating every day, visualizing just what I wanted in my life and I was grateful for everything I had.  Then I got grumpy and I stopped meditating and I stopped feeling grateful for what I considered to be nothing good in my life.

Yesterday I read an article by a blogging friend of mine who said that the world has never been better in its history, in spite of global warming, wars and threats of war, weather events and more.  I thought, “huh?” but what about all we read in the news or see on TV?   My friend wrote, “the truth is there are fewer people living in poverty than ever before in history, we have more gadgets to make life easier than ever before in history and we’re more connected now than ever before and no government will ever be able to stop us from speaking out because of that connection.”  So why are we always looking at the negative side?   Good news doesn’t sell.

If I need to stop watching the news to get to where I want to be by the end of 2013, then that’s what I’ll do because I’m committed to making 2013 the best year of my life.  I know I can do it and you can too.  Join me.  🙂

China to Overtake US Economy

China to Overtake US EconomicallyThat’s a recent headline on Fox News.  Yeah, Fox News so you know it has to be pretty serious when even they agree with the IMF predictions that China will overtake the US economy by 2016.   I thought the article was right but deep inside me I didn’t want to believe it.

I still believe in the American spirit of striving to be the best…  at least I did until I read a comment I received on my cooking blog today.  I had written a post many months ago about the best onion ring recipe in the world and I received this comment:

No one said math was going to be involved.  Here in the USA we use Fahrenheit.

Recipe looks fine but converting the oil temp will stop me in my tracks.  🙂

Seriously?  She can’t figure out how to convert a temperature?  People around the world who use Internet/blog recipes from the USA have to convert from Fahrenheit every day of the year and none of us finds it that difficult.

If this were the first comment like this I’d say it’s a once-off and not to worry but sadly it’s not.  Which brings me back to the original subject.  Have Americans lost their competitive spirit?  Maybe Romney was right about the 47% and too many people find competing all too hard?  The tertiary education in the US is widely regarded as being the best in the world so there are some pretty cluey people coming out of American universities but there seems to be a real split between those and the ones who can’t figure out how to convert a temperature.

Personally, I find it quite stressing.  This is where my children and grandchildren live and it’s not the same sort of place I grew up in.  Yeah, we were taught from kindergarten that the US was the best in the world and had everything and we didn’t need to ever leave the states to find anything better.  It didn’t exist, my 5th grade teacher said.  Mind you, she also said that Castro was a hero to the Cuban people and then had to turn around and say he was a bad Communist.

The US needs to control its debt, stop spending trillions fighting wars they can’t win and be a good global citizen who doesn’t go around telling other countries what they should do.  It doesn’t seem like such a monumental problem but there are so many special interest groups who must be listened to, it might be impossible to achieve a solution.


The In-laws Are Coming!

the oldsOkay, you’ve seen my photo and you know I’m older than dirt because I told you so.  Well, imagine ME having the in-laws coming to visit for two weeks for Chrismas.  Most people my age don’t have in-laws any more.  I found out today that they’re arriving on the 17th.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like my husband’s parents.  They are over 90 and are still living independently and get around better than I do if I admitted the truth.  Their social calendar is dwindling a bit since most of their contemporaries have passed on but they still go to the golf club for dinner a couple of times a week, attend functions in Melbourne for former university lecturers where they gab about holograms, still participate in charity work and clubs and they have a 5 acre garden that until recently they cared for by themselves.

These are NOT old people waiting to die.  My mother-in-law is the sexiest old woman I’ve ever met.  She will flirt with any man and I doubt she realises she’s doing it.

They are delightful people.  A few years ago we took them to Europe with us for nearly a month.  They have relatives in Scotland and they wanted to attend their grandson’s university graduation, plus they wanted to see Salzburg and Rome and Paris…  oh and London and Glasgow too.  They were in their very late 80s then and I was a bit worried about how they’d cope with all the walking around.

Remember what I said about them doing all their own gardening?  They had more energy than either John or I.  If I said, “would you like to have a rest for a few hours?” the answer was always no, they were ready to see something new.

The only problem we ever had and it wasn’t a real problem was that my father-in-law thought he should help to move the suitcases off the trains.  If you’ve been on European trains before you’d know you have about 90 seconds to get off (or on) a train.  No time for a 90 year old to fiddle with a suitcase.  “Dad, move out of the way, the suitcase will land on you,” John yelled once as he was tossing the bags to the platform.

I got on the next train and J’s dad said, “I don’t like it when John gets angry with me,” and I felt really bad for him.  John did apologise and explained (again) why we had to hurry and that he wasn’t angry.  His dad understood but didn’t appreciate hearing that he was nearly 90 and catching a 32 kilo suitcase being tossed from a train was not a good thing for him to be doing.

It was like taking children with you on holiday but you couldn’t spank them.

It was a wonderful holiday and I have memories I will treasure for a lifetime.  They live in country Victoria and the Victorian siblings think it’s time that “the olds” as we all fondly call them should move to a smaller place and one near public transport.  90 year olds with arthritis shouldn’t be driving.  Neither was a great driver when they were young but now we all worry.

The reason for the trip is for my husband, the baby of the family, to convince them that living up here on the Sunshine Coast is a good idea.  Whenever they visit I wait on them hand and foot and spend time entertaining them every day but I’ve never had them for 2 weeks straight.  Because I’ve spoiled them in the past with fancy breakfasts, lunches and dinners, they are going to expect the same and I don’t have the time I had before.

I’ve warned John that these are HIS parents and he’s going to have to help me get the house ready.  He decided we could afford to get some help to do that.  :eyeroll:  He hates housework more than I do.

Have you had to talk parents into assisted living situations?  We are not looking forward to it.  J’s brother, sister and sister-in-law are considered bullies by the olds for bringing up the idea of moving.  They aren’t ready but they live in the middle of nowhere and have no family close by.  We’ll have to be very gentle indeed.  Wish me luck.

We Should Pay for Online News

We should pay for online newsI know this subject isn’t going to be popular with some people but I’m convinced that with the number of small laptops, smart phones and tablets, the days of carrying a newspaper neatly tucked under our arms are nearly over.  I was having coffee with a friend the other day – a much much younger friend, I might add.

During our conversation I mentioned that I’d seen something in our local paper, the Sunshine Coast Daily that day and began talking about the article.

“You still read paper newspapers?” she asked.

“Don’t you?” I replied.

She shook her head and said, “It’s old news by the time it gets to me.”

Ever since CNN began 24/7 news coverage, the writing has been on the wall about print newspapers.  Is there a newspaper without an online presence?  I doubt it.  Their sales of advertising and newspaper copies reduces every year so how can we expect decent news if we’re not willing to pay for it.

Their writers won’t work for nothing, nor will their photographers, editors, or type setters/designers.  I asked my friend Cindy if she’d be willing to pay to read her local paper online or one of the major big city newspapers and she said absolutely not.  “Let them get their money from advertising,” she told me.

I knew I had a steep hill to climb on this issue but I persevered.

“Do you see many ads on the Internet newspapers you read?” I queried.

She thought for a moment and said she wasn’t even sure that they had any, so I asked her to look.  Sure enough there were ads all over it and she had no clue.

“If you are so numb to those ads, how much money do you suppose they’re making off people just like you?  If nobody is clicking and buying, they aren’t making much money off advertising.  Advertisers pay for results.”

After a bit of brow wrinkling and twitching in her seat she mumbled something about making better ads that she would notice.  I could tell by the volume and tone of her voice that even she didn’t believe what she was saying.

The bottom line is, do we want quality news about what’s going on in our community and around the country and the world?  If we’re satisfied with getting national snippets from inferior journalists, then the price we’re paying for online newspapers is just fine but it’s not good enough for me.  I’m not going to be satisfied with content that’s only gleaned from sources in another location or content provided by sponsors.  Sure, we all know that sponsored content happens even now but do we want nothing but sponsored articles?  Not me.

I want to know there are people with cameras and notebooks actively getting a good story.  For me, news isn’t about branded content.  That’s not news for me – it’s fluff, cash for comment sort of thing.  I acknowledge that newspapers both print and online need to have some of that just to pay the bills these days but come on, surely news is important enough to fork over a few dollars a month to pay for it.  It will make a huge difference to what we’ll be getting.

Sure, we can get our news off Twitter or Facebook but I’d prefer it from a local newspaper I trust.  I want to pick up my tablet and read the news while I’m getting my hair done or waiting to get a tyre changed or waiting for the dentist or doctor.  If we all contribute a little, we’ll get a better product.  Good writers are worth reading.

The Best of Intentions

spelling, or lack of itWe’re working on a new food website project and in order to create a searchable index of ingredients, my husband the programmer must parse recipes which will be included in the search.  You would be amazed at how many spelling errors there are in recipes on blogs.

I know there will be some who honestly don’t know any better but I believe the vast majority either have no clue that it’s important or are lazy.  Either way, routinely bad spelling or grammar will reduce a website’s reach.  With so many good blogs out there, why would you read a blog you have to struggle to understand?

My favourite from today is 3 bacon rashes.  or 2 tabelspons week tea.  or all purpoise flower.  Spelling like this makes creating a good search extremely difficult.  Yes, we crack up at some of the funny ones.  I thought I’d write a blog post on my food blog about it so that food bloggers would realise that even after a new post has been created, there are people still going to the older posts.  They’re found on Google or Yahoo! or other search engines, links from blogs or from social media.

If we want people to take us seriously, we need to be able to follow the recipe without scratching our heads.

Anyway…  I ended up really pissing off a woman I like who’s a non-native English speaker.  For some reason she felt that I was attacking people who try to write an English blog when it’s not their native language.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The truth is, it’s the English speakers who are too lazy to proofread their blogs.

Honestly, if someone reads their recipe and doesn’t catch glaring errors, I can’t take their blog seriously.  That said, we ALL make typos and we all miss things.  If you miss something 3 times proofreading, you’re never going to find it.

I felt really bad that I hurt my friend’s feelings and I regret making the post even though I got a huge amount of comments on the post from people who feel the same way I do. I’m not an unkind person and would not have posted my views if I thought it would cause discomfort.  I have apologised and hopefully our virtual friendship can continue.  If not, it’s my loss.

Have you ever written something that someone thought you were picking on them about?

We’re all responsible for the words we write.  We aren’t responsible for how someone else’s perspective views them.

Women Aren’t Women Anymore

women aren't women anymoreI could feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck as I read an article by Suzanne Venker about women’s war on men, published on the Fox News opinion blog.  Ms. Venker is convinced that women have gone about equality all wrong.

We have emasculated men and now they won’t marry us.  She’s spoken with “thousands of men” who tell her they aren’t ever getting married because women aren’t women any more.

It seems that men haven’t changed one bit and women have gone through this huge overhaul and nothing is fair anymore.  “Men didn’t NEED a revolution!” I want to scream into my computer monitor.

She might be a qualified writer and author of three books on the American family but who is she writing for?  Does she want to go back to the place where women had little opportunity in the workplace?  Further back and not be permitted to work at all?  Further back and not be allowed to vote?   I can go back even more but we’d all be sobbing.

While I don’t live in America any longer, I still have the American gene in my body and I feel confident that I understand the way many American women think.  They’d smack this woman with their iPhone as they head off to work.

She opines that women are angry at men and defensive all at the same time and we’ve pushed men off their pedestal because we never realised that we were sitting on one already.  Give me a fucking break.  I saw my ex mother-in-law do as she was told.  She never heard of feminism and I promise you, there was no pedestal for women in that household.  My mother didn’t know about feminism either and you guessed it, she wasn’t on a pedestal either.

Maybe Ms. Venker is too young to know what it was really like for those of us who were coming of age in the 60s but I know because I lived it.  I remember life before the pill when only “bad girls” got pregnant before marriage.

She goes on to say that the lack of great men to marry is most likely the fault of women because we’ve browbeat them and told them there was something wrong with them.  “Men aren’t threatened by us, they’re pissed off,” she says.  To that I say, “Good!  If we’ve pissed men off because we want equal rights to the same jobs, equal pay for the same job and the right to feel respected and valued, then I say I’m glad they’re pissed off and it’s not gonna get better.”

Men no longer have to marry us because we’ll have sex at hello, the article says.  I’m not sure where that comes from because I don’t know one woman, not one, who sleeps around with total strangers.  Maybe her circle of friends is different considering that she’s talked with thousands of men about sex.  I’ve run a dating site on the internet for years and I can tell you that even online, women are women and yes, some sleep around but most don’t.

You’ll be pleased to know that she ends up with really good news.  We can turn around this mess we’ve made with feminism by surrendering to our nature – our feminity.   Yes, and that and $5 will get you coffee but it won’t pay the rent and it won’t appease our frustration at not getting paid the same as men and being passed over for promotion.

Men with brains do exist, Ms. Venker.  I’m married to one.  He knows he doesn’t own me, he considers my opinions worth listening to, he treats me with love and respect and is my biggest champion as I am his.  I bet he’s not the only one like that.  You should widen your circle of friends.


People Are Funny

zombie foodBecause of my blog at, my husband wrote a WordPress recipe plugin so that my blog could be nicely formatted and yet still give Mr. Google all the back-end bits and pieces that they require in order to give my recipes a photo and a rating and hopefully come up as relevant for the recipe name.

We’ve offered the plugin to other food blogs to use and we were going through the list of recipes that people have created using EasyRecipe.  It was more like a quick scan because there are nearly 90,000 of them and they’re coming in at the rate of 1 every minute or so.

We decided to reward people who were kind enough to tick the box on the plugin saying they wanted their recipe photos to be included in our promotions so they get a link back to their blogs.  We’re not pinching their recipes, only the main photo they’ve selected and linking it back to their site.

All recipes that get entered using our plugin must fill in the cuisine tag because Google requires it as a part of their recipe view inclusion.  Now you’d think that most people who write a food blog would understand what the word cuisine means but I’ve got to tell  you that you’d be wrong if you thought that too.  I’ve been going through a list of cuisines that don’t fit what WE thought the normal cuisines would be.  You know, French, Canadian, Australian, Swedish, etc., etc.

Here are a few “cuisines” that made me scratch my head:

  • doggy treats
  • Balls (I don’t want to know)
  • 2-cups
  • All of the above and below (I have NO clue)
  • Peanut butter and jelly (I’d put this one under American)
  • Injection
  • Crispy Bits and Burnt Ends (I need to meet this person)
  • Make-up (edible?)
  • Problem solver
  • Zombie  (this dish is probably best served cold)

So far I’ve classified most of the cuisines and will have to consolidate them now from names like “Dolce di Carnevale” to Italian and “Hoofdgerect” — I’m guessing Dutch but I’ll have to look it up and so on.  THEN I have to work on meal type.  It makes me roll my eyes to see what meal types people come up with for what I would classify as breakfast, lunch, dinner, picnic,  snack, beverage or dessert.  Here are a few meal types:

  • allergy-friendly (probably better suited for a tag)
  • dipping sauce (condiment?)
  • Buns (Come on over for buns around 7?)
  • homegrown
  • Maine (I’m sure they meant Main. I’m from Maine and John wanted to know if Maine was a national cuisine.  No.)
  • Rice
  • Sweet Tooth (While I have the sweetest tooth in town, I suspect this is dessert)

I can’t wait to share with you what we’re doing with all these photos.  It looks very cool indeed and I’m very proud of my long suffering husband/programmer who will code anything I ask.  Even if he thinks it’s dumb.  Not this one – we both like it and we hope you will too.