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Most of us parents try so hard to give our kids the best start in life. We may invest in their education, take them to soccer training or teach them how to cook, but somewhere along the way we stuff up. There are those little moments in our busy lives where the cracks start appearing in our ‘perfect parenting plan’ or PPP for short. Sure, we’d love to always say the right thing to our kids but sometimes they just get under our skin even though they are as cute as two boots.

There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ childhood. As much as we try and try and try to be awesome parents, sometimes we just aren’t and I’ve realised that it’s ok if there’s a few moments of ‘reality’ flung in there because it keeps them grounded. Real life will not be such a shock when they’ve had a parent full of flaws, as long as I am humble enough to apologise when I’m in the wrong and as long as I can shake off the ‘perfectionistic parenting’ thing and the guilt that goes along with it. As long as they know I’m trying and that I love them, I can’t ruin them too much can I?

On certain days I feel like I’m at the top of the parenting scale; I’m ticking all the boxes, giving my kids the encouragement they need, and squatting down and looking them in the eyes as they tell me the detailed story of ducky and the garden full of bears for the umpteenth time. Ah, yes, those are the good days. But, as with most things, it can turn in an instant and I can go from super-mum to super-dud-mum depending on my mood and spitty-spatty words that somehow just come flowing out of my sometimes careless mouth. And then it’s like I’m hit with an anvil of guilt which hits my head and pounds me into the ground like a hammer to a nail. And it’s a bugger trying to climb out of that claustrophobic hole.

As much as I try not to ruin my kids, I know that somehow, sometimes I do hurt their feelings and build horrible walls between us that may last for a moment or longer, I’m not sure. But above everything else I’m just desperately in love with those two little souls and I tell them that every day which, I’m hoping, will cover over a multitude of sins…as they say.

Do you have those bad-parent moments as well or is it just me?

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Fear can be crippling. It can steal your sleep, give you horribly deep worry lines and make you jump at the smallest noise. The worst thing about fear is that it can stop you having a full and enjoyable life and that makes me plain old mad! So, to kick fear in the you-know-wheres I thought I’d give you a list of funny phobias so that we can stick it to fear and not let it take over our lives; bring it into the light and have a good old laugh. It’s not to make fun of people who experience these fears but to give us scardy-cats a little laugh at ourselves and at fear itself!

Here are the funniest phobias I could find… is yours here?

  • Acerophobia- Fear of sourness.
  • Alliumphobia- Fear of garlic.
  • Anthrophobia or Anthophobia- Fear of flowers.
  • Apotemnophobia- Fear of persons with amputations.
  • Arachibutyrophobia- Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
  • Aulophobia- Fear of flutes.
  • Aurophobia- Fear of gold.
  • Bolshephobia- Fear of Bolsheviks.
  • Chaetophobia- Fear of hair.
  • Consecotaleophobia- Fear of chopsticks.
  • Dextrophobia- Fear of objects at the right side of the body.
  • Dutchphobia- Fear of the Dutch.
  • Euphobia- Fear of hearing good news.
  • Geniophobia- Fear of chins.
  • Genuphobia- Fear of knees.
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words. (HA HA)
  • Kathisophobia- Fear of sitting down.
  • Leukophobia- Fear of the color white.
  • Linonophobia- Fear of string.
  • Lutraphobia- Fear of otters.
  • Metrophobia- Fear of poetry.
  • Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons.
  • Onomatophobia- Fear of hearing a certain word or of names.
  • Pogonophobia- Fear of beards.
  • Tremophobia- Fear of trembling.
  • Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.
  • For more go to http://phobialist.com/

I wonder whether there are heaps of people who suffer from these fears or only a few? Hmmmm.

What’s your phobia?

I’m scared of whales… strange but true!!!

I hate cleaning, I hate tidying, I hate scrubbing my shower but I love washing my clothes. As a mum, there’s a lot of expectation on us to be clean, neat-freaks. We’re supposed to have our house, finances, children in order and if we’re not, then we’re failing.

This is an unspoken rule, of course. It’s not as if you pop out your baby and the midwife says, “Oh, by the way, now that you’re a mum, your house must be stylish, clean and tidy each and everyday. Even when this little muppet becomes a toddler.” But there is an expectation the basic dusting, vacuuming and cleaning will be done weekly but in my house (gulp) I must admit it often gets left until it’s so gross that I can’t stand it anymore and out come the rubber gloves and tub of Gumption!

Let me propose that cleanliness is not the bee’s knees; that it is not the most important thing in life. I have wooden floors and I cannot remember the last time I mopped them but they don’t stink and they still look relatively clean when I bother to vacuum them. And some would say that cleaning too much is actually bad for our health; that anti-bacterial cleaners actually do away with the good bacteria as well as the bad, leaving us at the mercy of any bug that would walk through our doors.

In fact, would it be better for our hair and skin if we didn’t wash it as much? The natural oils would come pouring through and do their God-given job on their own, without any help from those nasty chemicals in our shampoo and skin cleansers. Have you ever gone for days without a shower? Sure, you stink but a quick swim will wash away any truly nasty odours, would it not?

I’m not saying that we should all embrace the hippy lifestyle and grow dreadlocks and eat mung beans but I just think it’s crazy how obsessed we are about how we present ourselves to others. Why do we care so much? I think that a clean toilet is a MUST and that showers are fantastic but the rest of the stuff, the surface stuff, who do we do that for? And what are we missing out on when we’re on our hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor?

To me, relationships are so important. So, if someone needs me or if my kids want to talk to me, I’d rather roll around on my dusty floor and listen to who pushed who at school, than be vacuuming while they stare at me with sad little faces. I think we should all be free to spend as much time with people and less time scurrying around making ourselves and our houses look perfect to impress those very people. Because, in the end, everyone loves to feel important, they love to be listened to, they love it when people show that they care and how can we do it when we are elbow-deep in Gumption?

And, that’s my excuse for having a messy, dusty house and I’m going to stick to it! Join me, why don’t you!

 

Early morning. Freshly (?) squeezed mango juice and strawberry juice! Oh. My. Goodness. So yum. It made the 5ish am start to the day bearable. Thank goodness for 5 star hotels!

After our delicious breaky we headed off to the airport and hopped onto our Egyptair plane. Oh dear. Firstly the flight attendants scared me. Smile people! And secondly they had a camera on the bottom of the plane giving us a great view of the dodgy tarmac. Hmmmm. Sounding like a whinging westerner here but whatever!

Up, up, up we went. Then, eventually the scary attendants served us a weird inflight meal: partially frozen muffin (which was actually quite yummy) and a cup-o-tea! It was a shortish trip to Luxor. And after we landed, the whole plane cheered! Fu-neeee. But it was all worth it. This place was incredible. Temples a-go-go! Hardly any tourists.

After a day of temple exploring we headed to our boat. Oh bliss! We had to walk through about six other luxurious floating hotels to get to ours. We found our room – just like the hotel we left in Cairo. This is the way to travel Egypt! (Cocky westerner now? Oh well.). Up to the deck we floated and sat there sipping some kind of drink overlooking the Nile! The Nile!!!!!

That night we headed back to Karak temple for an exciting (yawn) sound and (yawn) light show. Ooo sorry… flashbacks. It was freeeeeezing cold and the first ten minutes was creepy and exciting. But then it went on… and on… and on! And we both nearly fell asleep.

Next day was the flippin’ Valley of the Kings. This place rocked. The tombs were beautiful. The colours of the drawings/paintings were still brightly coloured and well preserved. We headed down into the bowels of the thing and checked out where the poor Egyptian was laid to rest. We heard tales of brains being sucked out the noses, grave robbers and the afterlife. Fascinating… and a bit gross.

Out we popped and off we went to one of my fav places: the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. This giant temple was built into the side of a mountain. It has a sad history. In 1997 62 people were shot by terrorists so it had an eerie feel about it. But it was also magnificent and awesome. For me, Egypt was full of ‘moments’. And this was one of them. Loved it!

After a full morning we headed back to the boat and set sail for Esna. Ah, this was the life. I felt for the poor adventurous tourists in Felucas (small sailing boats) with their lack of toilets or personal space. Imagine if you got the runs on board! Eeeeeeek.

The next few days were filled with Nile-side temples, jewellery purchasing (oh why didn’t I buy more? So cheap and lovely) and various interactions with various locals that made us feel a various range of emotions from annoyance to affection.

After reaching Aswan we went to a perfumery, had a dance on the ship with our tour guides and headed back to the airport to brave the scary flight attendants once again. Smile and nod. Smile and nod.

Hello Cairo with your crazy cars and your millions of people. Hello The Egyptian Museum with your amazing artefacts and floor filled with King Tut stuff. Hello Bazaar and Egyptian Restaurant. Hello taxi driver and hotel again. Hello… where had the Americans got to?

After we went to the restaurant our tour guide put us all in taxis (this was not part of the tour so no bus). We all made it safely and way too swiftly back to the hotel except the car-full of Americans. We feared the worst. It was a bad time to be an American in Egypt. Half an hour went by. One hour. Our tour guide was frothing at the mouth. He was furious.

Finally the little taxi ambled its way back to the giant hotel and everyone started to breathe again! Crazy times.

The tour was over. We said our fondest farewells to our lovely tour guide and prepared ourselves to become our own tour guides in Europe. In countries we had no idea about. In places we couldn’t speak the language. Driving on the wrong side of the road. Um. Yeah. We felt a little apprehensive. But that’s adventure, baby!

See you in Paris! Bye.

 

Picture this you’ve been awake for 30 hours straight, travelled 13 hours and spent 10 hours waiting in an airport in foggy London. Add to this 5 extra plane hours full of gurgly foul tummy motions and a single vomit and that’s how I arrived in Cairo!

We hopped off our BA flight to be met by our ‘tour guide’ (or WAS he?). Off he tottered with our passports, tickets and tour coupons as we stood dazed in the Cairo international airport. Ding dongs. The first rule of travelling is do not let go of your passport. But there you have it.

We were lucky. Our smiling guide strode back with all our things in hand and we were whisked past eager taxi drivers to our minivan. We were off. It was a tense time in the Middle East. Bombs had just started to drop on Egypt’s next-door-neighbour, Iraq the day we arrived and we were not sure what reception us Westerners were going to get.

We arrived at our fancy pants hotel and found ourselves staring at a king sized bed, wondering what the dickens it was… ah yes… a bed! We took a quick glance out our window at the glistening Nile and fell into a deep sleep. In the morning we arose with a spring in our step… sort of. We had a down day at the hotel and it was here we met our first Egyptians.

The cleaner came in around umpteen o’clock with a smile on his face. I swear  I could see dollar signs reflected in his eyes. We soon realised that a lot of Egyptians thought Westerners = cash! How wrong could they be!? The poor fella tried everything from us teaching him a little bit of English, he teaching us Arabic to gifts of sandy pyramids and other impractical travelling the world, can’t take home prezzies. Then he brought a friend along for some more English lessons and that’s when we called it a day. We had learnt our lesson. The door gently slammed shut on that chapter.

The following day we met our real tour guide and our other fearless fellow travellers. Poor Egypt. Instead of having a full tour of 30 people, our group was down to 8, which was good for us. People were just plain scared to come to the Middle East with bombs and such. Not us!

Off we toddled to our first couple of  sites: The Pyramids at Saqqara and the ancient city of Memphis. For this part of the tour we had our very own bodyguard with an impressive looking weapon. And this was the moment I embraced the travelling thing and  decided to (pardon the Egyptian pun) live in denial (de Nile!?!).  I love history so I was not going to cancel this tour, unless something major happened… and it didn’t!

After this we headed to … wait for it… The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx (pronounced Spinx in American). This was bloody amazing. Beautiful, old, tall, strong structures. It was awe-inspiring. You have to go! But I must say, the Nile does not flow past the pyramids – that’s just a Hollywood thing peeps. The Sphinx was so special. It was a moment in life I will never forget.

Back we went to the hotel. And, to tell you the truth, I would have been happy with just that day cos it rocked. But we had 9 days ahead of us… Stay tuned to see what other Egyptian adventures we had. Watch this space…

Image by Marie-Lan Nguyen

It’s so funny that women have a sort of elegant reputation… mostly. That we’re little princesses, sweethearts that, for the most part, enjoy a gross-free life. Well, shock horror, it’s not true. So if you are of a sensitive disposition, I would recommend that you stop reading now, because things are going to get gross!

Farts/ Toilet smells – No. Our farts do not smell of roses. Our faeces do not smell like a fresh baked cake. We are human. Even the Queen has smelly gas. It’s just a fact of life. Although, I must say that my daughter seems to be a lot less smellier than the rest of the family. Perhaps she is a ‘true’ princess!

Hairy McClary! – Without the humble razor, or less humble wax, most of us silky smooth ladies would be a pile of gross black hair. We’d be a lot more smelly too; surprise, surprise. Our legs would be soft and fluffy, great for those winter days when you feel like wearing a skirt as there would be more insulation. Bald legs are a funny invention. I understand the reasons behind shaved armpits and nether regions, but why the legs? Any hoo. If the world ran out of razors and wax today, we would be left with a whole bunch of fluffy women, cos we’re not born bald.

Luscious lips and dark sultry eyes – We do not all have eye slapping lip colour or perfect lip shape. We are paintings of our real selves. Isn’t it a shock when we see photos of celebrities without make up on! How normal do they look? It’s all because they are people, not gods. They only look incredible because of professional make up and hair peeps oh and photographers! It’s unrealistic. Yet we cake on the make up, draw on our eyes and puff out our lips to lift our confidence, to have a bit of fun or to join in with the other millions of women in the world doing the same!

Dangerous drivers – no we’re not! Some of us can park cars quite successfully. We can point the car in the right direction and get from A to B without annoying anyone or causing an accident. We can drive the speed limit and zip in and out of traffic, legally! We are not generally risk takers, that’s all. We’re mothers and daughters with more on our minds than our egos and most of us are darn good drivers!

Emotional & Irrational – Myth! Ha ha. Ok, well, maybe not this one. Most of us wear our emotions everywhere. Tears will flow, brows will frown, laughter will soar, it’s just how we’re built. We can be irrational creatures but most of the time I think we’re a lot more emotionally intelligent so our ideas may just be more sophisticated… not irrational. We read into things that others don’t. We imagine things that sometimes aren’t there but could be! And we rehearse conflicts or conversations in our heads that will probably never happen but at the end of the day, like the Scouts proclaim, it is always essential for survival, to be prepared!

Nagging – This is a pat description of a much deeper thing! Nagging only occurs when people don’t listen or when they don’t value what you have to say in the first place. It comes from frustration and feelings of insignificance. It’s not just bossy boots behaviour. There are deep reasons for such annoying behaviour. So if you listen in the first place and respect tha wo-man! then you won’t get nagging. Simple as that!

So, to summarise. Women are really smelly, hairy, colourless, thin-lipped, great drivers, emotional but highly intelligent and in deep need of respect! Would you agree?

Image by Whit Welles

Fear. Dread. Anxiety. Terror. Things that go ‘bump’ in the night, or the day, or in your head. What scares the nickers off you?

The tangible: spiders, snakes, lizards, whales, donkeys, hippies, carnies, clowns, fingers and/or toes. For me, it has got to be spiders and whales. Imagine a spider whale or a whale spider… (she shivers). I don’t mind cockroaches or snakes or sharks unless they’re crawling over my face as I sleep or trying to bite me to death. Nup, it’s the hairy, multi-eyed, crawly little eight legged bug and the huge lump of blubber that gets my heart racing. What about you?

Answer: __________________________________________________

The intangible: failure, success, rejection, nightmares, ghosts, commitment, marriage, being a parent, not being a parent, being a nerd, not being a nerd, other people’s opinions on you being a nerd, depression, sunshine or failing friendships. This is the big section if you ask me. Because you can pretty much stay out of the way of sharks, spiders and snakes (if you’re lucky) but these are always with us. We carry these fears in our heads, throughout our lives. It’s a constant battle to keep them in check so that they don’t ruin our lives.

Fear of failure is pretty common. Especially when you take on a new job or school, most of us just want to be seen as successful. It’s humiliating when you miss the mark. It hurts. And that hurt stays with you and effects the future levels of anxiety and fear. Ooga booga.

Then there’s rejection. There’s nothing like school to instil in a person the fear of rejection. Girls especially are skilled at the nose in the air, turn of the back move. They perfect the ‘you’re not my friend’ sentiments from a very early age. Not sure why girls are particularly hard on each other. Must be something in the waters. Or the emotions.

Fear of people’s expectations is tied into the whole rejection thing, which is linked into the fear of looking daggy or not seen to be fitting in. And I bet that nearly every person is walking around with this paranoia; that they’re not good enough, that they don’t fit in. It can drive a person crazy, all this comparing clothes, cars, careers, houses, smarts with everyone else is exhausting. Why do we bother?

Our masks don’t help anyone. Rather, they perpetuate these false standards that everyone hates but strives to life up to. We’re all running around trying to be good enough, when the truth is that we are good enough, because no one is good enough, if you get my drift. We all have our weaknesses. Truth is powerful, masks are harmful.

What are your biggest fears? Come on, remove the mask and share. Cos you’re not alone out there.

The philosophy of our age is you can do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. On the surface this statement looks fairly sensible. It looks like freedom of speech, of action. But can you have true freedom with no (or little) boundaries?

‘As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone’ is a subjective boundary. You can put it where you like and justify almost anything, as long as it feels right to you. But what if my behaviour doesn’t feel right to someone else? What if I am hurting someone and they are so politically correct, so polite that they can’t say anything? And this philosophy doesn’t apply to everyone.

Take the swear word ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ for instance. If you’re a Christian and someone swears with these words, it can be highly offensive but most people continue to say it regardless. And who are we to say who is going to be hurt and who isn’t? It’s subjective and we don’t know everything.

Our individualistic society is a little blind. We’ve lost a beautiful sense of community and compassion. I know the past was far from perfect but I kinda miss manners and lovely words and the respect that all brought. People were unafraid to show that they cared. They would bring meals, make phone calls, write letters and were careful (in public at least) with what they said. Or perhaps I’m remembering some kind of ‘Anne of Green Gables’ type of reality that never really existed.

To be frank, I really don’t think many of us stop to consider whether we are hurting people. We’re kind of desensitised to that kind of compassion because we’re individuals now and we have rights. The individual always trumps the group/community. It’s a stubborn, narrow view of the world in my opinion.

We are not islands. We have been made to live in community. It’s a beautiful thing. So perhaps the new philosophy should be ‘Do what is beneficial not just to you but to your community – speak life into those around you, be generous, be considerate and don’t be afraid to love.’ It’s a little long-winded, I know, but you get the gist!

What philosophy do you think the world needs to adopt?

If you had to write the story of your work life, how would it go? Traineeship, apprenticeship, university degree, family business, interview (disaster/success), bosses, payment, experience…

My work life has always been grey. After leaving school I went to University for a year. It was a sad 12 months. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was studying Communication which was cool and all but my heart was not in it… unfortunately. So I dropped out and worked in the Travel industry for a couple of years, thinking that I would be able to travel. Which I didn’t.

I just had this nagging desire for something to do with my mind, something more. So off I toddled back to University and absolutely loved my new course, Bachelor of Creative Arts. I had never worked so hard in my life, because I was finally studying something I loved… Drama, English and even a little bit of Business. (Got a ‘B’ in Accounting which was a big deal for a Creative Arts student).

After Uni, all I wanted to do was to travel with my hubby. And we did… after a year of mindbreaking, soul sapping work as a receptionist. But I did it, I travelled and loved it.

Back home and once again I was lost about what to do. I really wanted to have kids, but what to do in the meantime. So I took a job with kids, fell pregnant and was/is a mum, going on 8 years. Panic set in when my first baby went to school… gotta work… but what to do!? Had I squandered my working years, wandering around in a haze of options, doubt and confusion? I had to nail down what I loved to do…writing!

I was sent into the blogosphere by a friend who is a headhunter. I was wary, unsure but it was here I found my voice. But the eternal question hovers; do I do what I love as a job or should I get a local job in a shop/office just to pay the bills?

So my husband and I are both freelancers. Scary and exciting…?! You never know when you’re going to get that magical job that will propel you forward in your career. But there’s part of me that wants the steady income every week. The magical increase of numbers on a Thursday! Ping! Love that ping.

In the end everyone makes the decision to either do what they love, or what they have to do. The lucky or smart people get both. I’m hoping to one day be that lucky or smart or whatever. In the meantime, I keep plugging away at my humble blog/s (oscarclub.wordpress.com – check it out!) and hope and plan and pray that one day I can do what I love for work.

Dougie Hoswer – First Blogger featured on Television?

Today I became a canteen mum. There was I with my holey but protective footwear, my bright eyes, my expectant face and a little fear of the responsibility of adding up cash correctly.

But never fear! It was a great experience. The other ladies were very nice and patient and understanding but I must tell you about the star of the day. His name, I cannot remember but his presence was unique.

I arrived 9:30 ish to find a tall, elderly man pottering around the canteen kitchen. His eyes were bright as he pottered around. He saw me and the other new mummy and tottered over to tell us something in hushed old man tones. With personal space not being his forte, it was a little confronting at first. But then he was sent on a supermarket errand and the ladies told me his story.

This man used to be the maintenance worker at the school. So each week he comes in for half a day to relieve his glory days, to sit, to drink in the familiar surrounds. It is a nice break from his home life, where he visits with his frail wife who is suffering from dementia. But there’s not a skerrick of bitterness in him. He looks like a man full of stories, full of experiences and full of hope of more life left to live.

Like any of us, he loves his weekly routine. He serves the kids at recess, often giving them freebies if he can’t quite understand what they want or how much it costs. After this he eats his chicken sandwich, yoghurt and sweet chilli chicken, lost in his own happy world.

His pottering continues with stories of being a sailor, travelling throughout Asia. I picture him with a captain’s hat on his head and a pipe clenched between this teeth, squinting into the sea spray while singing a sea shanty through his gritted teeth, urging the ship to go faster, despite the roaring waves.

Because of his lack of personal space, I would imagine this man is a brave soul. Despite his age, he still travels overseas, often bringing back presents for his ‘girls’ in the canteen.

Around lunchtime he packed up his tucker and did the kiss-on-cheek rounds to all of us, all while sharing jigsaw pieces of his life in snippets of conversation. He left me smiling. Though some find him intimidating, I thought he was fascinating and sweet.

I love that older people have such a wealth of experience to share with us. To the rest of society they may seem past it, quirky or muddlesome but when we scratch the surface, when we ask the right questions, there is gold to be found, stuff that we can learn from and admire.

 

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