Monday, 3 November 2014

The Civil War that Rages Within My Wardrobe

Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?” 
― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Once upon a time there existed The Wardrobe, a closet of admirable character, where well behaved fabrics spoke in hushed tones and pretty blouses and well structured blazers chattered merrily to each other to pass the time of day. They lived in undisputed comfort amid the backdrop of Japanese cherry blossom. They waited in joyful anticipation, 'will she pick me today?' They were, as a rule, well cared for and even though some garments would disappear for a longer time than others, they were never jealous or bitter of the favourites. They were a happy collection. 

In the southern hemisphere of The Wardrobe there lived a clan of some distant relation, a group known as Shoes. They were the far removed cousins to the Clothes from North Wardrobe. The two groups got on quite well, often the Clothes and the Shoes would go out together but their romantic relationships never lasted long. If a new garment came to live in The Wardrobe the Shoes were easily excitable. They were always attracted to something younger. Anything with glitz and glamour would  catch their eye. Sometimes the Shoes got a bit rowdy and rough around the edges, but in the most part the Clothes would just smile with their shiny zippers. Their bright button eyes would wink at each other knowingly. The Clothes and The Shoes were all happy to live together in The Wardrobe.

Then one day something happened, a pair of rogue shoes, like nothing seen before arrived. They were boxy and bright and very loud. They smelt vaguely of rubber and had long ropey tentacles that flung themselves this way and that without a care. They seemed to have a lot to boast about, 'We're runners!' they would exclaim, "We're here to conquer the world!" The rest of the inhabitants of The Wardrobe became unsettled, unsure of what chaos this maverick footwear would bring to their ideal world.  Soon others joined the first pair of  Runners and before too long they had extended throughout the southern hemisphere, trampling over the pretty heels and bringing a less than elegant smell to The Wardrobe, North and South.

It was not just the Clothes and Shoes whose land was being invaded, the Belts and Watches who lived in the Island of Drawers reported the introduction of funny looking fluorescent time keepers that not only kept time but could also record distance and track something called calories. These were not the beautifully crafted or fashionable watches such as those who had resided in the Island of Drawers since the beginning of time, they were brash and cheap. And more recently, the Belts and Watches said, ugly leg wrapping garments made of Lycra that laughed and joked with sleeveless tops of obscene colour had come to live in the Island of Drawers.

It was a time of change, unwelcome change. The boisterous Runners became more and more demanding and the Shoes became shrill and pompous. The Clothes developed an anxiety disorder and began to doubt themselves. It was a standoff in which nobody could be a winner.

But recently the raucous behaviour of the Runners, the ugly black leg squeezers and the ridiculously bright timekeeping, calorie-munching invaders has become too much for the gentle, attractive residents of The Wardrobe. The motley crew of athletic primitives will be segregated to the prison of Laundry where they can live their days with other undesirables such as bin-bags, bucket and mop.


“She did not shut it properly because she knew that it is very silly to shut oneself into a wardrobe, even if it is not a magic one.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Monday, 16 June 2014


Today is my Dad's birthday, had he been alive today he would be 94. I was 23 when he died and felt the world developed a glitch in its timeline the day he left us. For a long time after he had gone I would hear his voice in the street or catch a glimpse of him turning around a corner or passing through a door ahead of me. At 23 I thought I was all grown up and able to cope, turns out I still miss him even at 52.

I can't remember his voice quite so clearly as I once did. Each morning, after I wake up I lie for a while checking the mental outfit that turns me into Rebecca: Mother, employee, friend, neighbour, once daughter... I think only briefly about my father. He is now a faded, softer memory, distant in the background of a scene that has more new characters than old. It is more likely now that I have unexpected but happy reminders:

His perfectly timed humour is something that endeared him to many, more often than not bordering on the inappropriate. I think of him as always being calm and kind, deeply analytic. I share his love of science fiction and art. When I was five and had chicken-pox, he set up two mirrors between the lounge room and the hallway so that I could watch Dr Who in bed.

He dressed well- in that sixties way, soft body shirts in olive and beige and he wore a suit and tie more often than not. I still have his cuff-links. I would love to watch him shave and listen to him whistle, boy could he whistle. He was in the air-sea rescue division during World War II, a mere boy, and lived a great deal of his life acutely aware of the sinister and ever present Cold War. He was brilliant at Maths and after he died we found exercise books filled with Maths equations.

He taught me how to knit, read a map - a real map using coordinates, how to paint interiors and how to smoke apparently, looking at the photo below!

He smoked like a train and I remember him laughing at me when I would have a go at rolling a cigarette ... imagine that now! The smoking was the end of him of course, along with the many shirts and trousers which suffered the glowing ash of a Capstan Ready Rubbed. Knowing his love of all things futuristic I wonder how he would have embraced the age of social media and smart-phones. He would be impressed and probably an *Apple bitch. I think he would fit right in.

Happy Birthday Dad

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Runway Time

I can think of the many times I've almost made a decision that will set me on the path to achieving something I want, but then at the eleventh hour I've hesitated. Even when things as they are seem no longer tolerable, I've retreated. I’m fairly confident that this isn't just me and that we all make excuses, that we tag as ‘reasons’ for not doing what we would ‘love to do’ if only…

Most of us already know what it is we want to change and are clear about why we want to make the changes required. It may be leaving your tired old job and starting something new, moving to another town or country, leaving your partner or maybe changing something about your appearance.

Some of our best back-out excuses revolve around not having the time, energy, support or the money. We say we want things to be different but immediately we start mentally scrambling for all the reasons why these changes are not really possible. We stop ourselves from even starting. We’re stuck on the runway with no take-off in sight, we just taxi on and on through the weeks, years and decades.

So what happens from the time we buy the ticket and board the plane, rocket ship, submarine –insert mode of transport of your choice here - to the point of take-off? What makes us back off on the throttle and exit by the clearly marked signs?
For me, and I’m guessing for most of us, change triggers a deep fear that comes from stepping out of my comfort zone and possibly succeeding. I avoid any chance of experiencing pain. What if I fail? What if people will think I’m strange?

The problem as I see it, is that by thinking everything to death and over analyzing the pros and cons, I wind up paralyzed and take no action at all. All of us contemplating change need have more faith in our own resilience and trust that the steps we take will be the right ones. We need to be a little bit brave and commit to doing something RIGHT NOW. The truth is nothing is guaranteed and we’re all just guessing.

This week I signed up for a half marathon, and yes I’m terrified by my action, but I’m pretty excited too. Sometimes it’s easier just to take action and not think too much about it. If you’re scared to make the change you want, take the first step, take action and rely on the fact that you've got the ability to adapt and learn the skills required to get you to the end.

Do what you have to do this week; sign up with a Personal Trainer if you want to get fit, get rid of all the bad food in your house, be ruthless with this, register in a course that will take you closer to your dream job or set up a web page for your start-up business, book in for driving lessons, cooking lessons, there’s always someone who will teach you for a price, dare to get that piercing or tattoo … Just commit to making a change and then take one small action that will get you off the runway.

Friday, 23 May 2014

The Power of Three

Once, about six years ago, I did a 100 Day Challenge. I scribbled down big hairy goals and set schedules and surrounded myself with vision boards and positive people and worked like crazy to change my life beyond my wildest dreams. It lasted about a fortnight and then my concentration slipped because a new episode of LOST had come back on TV… and then I lost interest in LOST too because I had to trade my vision board for a white board to keep track of the characters and the emerging themes… damned if I know what happened in the end but I do remember I liked Sayid better than Jack who turned out to be a little bit                                                                             dull. I digress.

I have to confess I've always been a bit of a self-development junkie, which is why over the weekend I decided to Google ‘100 day Challenge’ to see what’s new.  In the space of what seems like a few years this 
  topic has exploded, and that’s good, and it still excites me. However, I still seem to have the concentration span of a gnat. The very idea of stepping out 100 days in time to reach a better place in my life leaves me exhausted and I know I’ll not make it: across the river of adversity, down the path of good intentions, through the door of opportunity, past the point of failed attempts or towards the light of never ending spiritual enlightenment without having to pause for some mind-numbing TV or bad food.  

So I figured I’d settle on something shorter and more manageable. At first I thought 50 days, half the time, sounds doable, but no, that’s quite a bit of planning still and a very large to-do list to go with my many and varied goals. ‘How about 30 days?’ I asked myself. Maybe, but I want results people! Successes, heady achievements, I don't want to fade. 30 days is just too long to maintain that much adrenalin-guzzling action, besides, that’s a long time to smile every-god-damn-day! Even a week requires a decent amount of planning and effort. So, I settled on three. Three days. Three days to get it right.

Three days of ‘getting it right’ will provide me with enough heart-pumping action and steely-minded determination needed to reach the challenges I've set myself. Here is my Three day challenge for anyone who has the grit to take it on..


Plan three days’ worth of meals and shop for groceries = No going to the shops for three days, hooray! No having to find a car park;  No kicking the cat out of the way because you forgot to get the damn cat food

on your way home; No snide remarks required when your husband or significant other (see former comment about cat) asks ‘what’s for tea?’ No eating rubbish because you’re hungry and have to eat Tim Tams while deciding what to have for tea.

Plan three outfits to wear over the three days and hang them ready to wear. To increase the degree of difficulty of the challenge, accessorise outfits = No running from the shower to the laundry in the nuddy to find underwear; No stumbling around in the mornings looking for your running shoes and having to turn on the bedroom light at 5am. ‘Soooo sorry my darling, did I wake you?’; No arriving to work with top inside out; No mismatched earrings; No wearing the same outfit with tomato seeds on the
collar for three days in a row; No dressing in something that startles the cat.

Plan three work-out sessions = Feeling pretty damn proud and energised; No excuses; No mediocrity and No feelings of guilt about the Tim Tams.

Plan three must do projects for work = No regrets; No last minute scrambling to reach a dead line; No having to look for a new job.

Plan three projects for home and personal life = No thinking something else is more important right now; No delaying the dream; No need to wait until you’re on holidays, it’s a long-weekend, the family are visiting, the tax cheque arrives in the mail. Make it simple and preferably nothing that requires paint brushes.

Plan to watch only three programs on TV= only three EPISODES not three SERIES

Plan for three ‘fun’ activities = No martyrdom; no bitterness, no resentment, no stopping to check your work E-mails or whether your last study module submitted has been marked yet. Just have fun!”

So that’s it, my three days are pretty much planned for and achievable. It will be a challenge and if I'm successful I might really stretch myself and try for four days sometime in the future. It’s all about the journey…speaking of which, what did happen to Oceanic Flight 815?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Grey expectations Chronicles of My Hair - Part 1

"There is only one cure for grey hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It's called a guillotine." PG Wodehouse.

I'm experimenting with the idea of going grey. It’s a complicated, thorny topic which shouldn't be. A subject loaded with social constructs, ageism, sexism and self-worth.

It’s been a long time since I've seen my virgin hair. For 27 years I've been hiding my natural colour. There’s probably been a whole decade in which I couldn't tell you what that colour was.
At twenty I would race home from work on a pay day with a packet of Clairol ‘One Shade Lighter’ and armed with sheets of newspaper and a pastry brush I would set up a salon in the bathroom. Oblivious to the persistent interruptions of others knocking on the door and the life-threatening vapours emitted from said product, I would transform my dull mouse-brown, dirty blonde hair into something more vibrant. And so it began…

To many, a woman’s hair colour defines her. Grey equals old age. Youth is such a valued commodity in our society. There is an endless quest to look 25, right through to 85. As the years creep along dyeing your hair becomes creepy.  For some, going grey is akin to a medical condition, one to be avoided at all costs and sometimes to the extent of looking absurd.

Now, I want to go natural. Why? I'm tired of being a slave to my hair and the maintenance required. There’s something liberating about not having to worry about dyeing your hair, about being authentic, being the real me. Importantly, reducing the amount of time and money I spend on my hair is in line with my ideal of minimalism.

I know going grey is a result of time and genetics, but there’s a feeling of entitlement, having arrived at this moment and I'm inspired by the increasing number of women who have let their hair go grey with beautiful results.

I think I'm ready for this. My hairdresser has become my accomplice and assures me that with the use of highlight and lowlights, the transition to grey will be relatively painless (it’s that medical condition again). I trust her completely and recognise that I may not be as alone as I first thought in my endeavour to go grey. We will do this together the artist and I.

And if I don’t like it? It’ not irreversible, it’s a grey area.

After visit 1 in which I embrace my roots.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Meals on Wheels Ladies are Doing It… the Zest for Vests

I've been kept awake for too many nights now, tossing and turning in my Peter Alexander pyjamas, and I have to ask the question...when did we become so risk-adverse that we allowed high-visibility vests to become part of our daily fashion? It seems no one leaves home these days without adorning themselves in these hideous luminosities.

Once upon a time, these garments were the necessary attire reserved for people working in high risk areas such as  building construction sites, atop skyscrapers, drilling deep holes in the road, crossing raging rivers, railway yards with large locomotives and racing to the scene of an accident. Now however, it seems that every man and his dog are wearing them… and chickens too!  Forget ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ now it’s ‘when a chicken crosses the road, be sure to dress him in a ridiculous high- viz vest”

 Are we such an accident prone nation that leaving home without glowing is just not an option anymore?These ugly, shapeless and over-represented garments have stealthily worked their way into the very heart of our community… we have become a high visibility culture.

It’s disappointing that in recent years even the Boys in Blue (or khaki) have dropped their dress standards. Now the hot young cop that directs you into the RBT station has taken on the appearance of an upright squid jig with a gun.

At footy and netball, appointed stewards can be found prancing around the grounds, directing the crowd and giving orders, bolstered by their vests. Council workers grab you eye like a line of Bollywood dancers as you drive down the street, surrounded by witches hats, that were once considered bright but now dull in comparison.

On a recent visit to Adelaide I was helped into my taxi by a cabby wearing a fluorescent vest, protecting himself no doubt, from an hysterical crowd of holiday makers or a stack of runaway luggage trolleys.


This week, I nearly had a small accident myself while driving home from my very safe office job. I took my eyes off the road for just a second, no make that several seconds, distracted by a sight that I can only describe as absurd. Imagine my surprise when two of our lovely local Meals on Wheels Ladies, carrying their baskets full of warm goodies, stepped out of their vehicle wearing…. you guessed it…. high visibility vests! Please... explain to me... what perilous situation could threaten and put in mortal danger the lives of these community icons to such a degree that they have to wear retina-searing fluorescent! Were they expecting space debris to fall on their heads?

What’s next? Is it just a matter of time before Bikies have to wear high viz vests and use fluro flags? Good luck with that one… What about Undertakers? Should they be wearing them? … After all, it’s a job that involves high emotion and a deep holes.

Now it seems the ever-present risks have entered our city buildings, the lady at the target entrance and now cleaners everywhere are wearing hi-viz attire. Why would they do this? What’s going to happen? Why don’t I know of the impending doom that lurks in every corridor, waiting area and shop entrance?  

I can understand the need for cyclists who use the roads wearing high-visibility vests, they’re already wearing lycra, so there’s really not any more damage they can do to their sense of style, but at least it alerts others to their presence.

The burning questions that keep me awake are:  where will it end? When will we get to the point that so many people, animals, buildings are draped in neon that everyone looks the same? When will Doctor Who have to wear one…?  

Superman is that really you?

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Have Giddy-Up Bra... Ready to Run!

‘Ask me, ask me anything’ she murmurs, we are close now, really close, and I’m conscious of her firm breasts and oh-so-supportive lycra-ensconced body… I look anxiously around to be sure there is no-one listening. My husband is only metres away on the other side of the flimsy curtain. I hesitate, and then blurt out in whispering tones ‘I… I … I don’t know where they should be!?’ She smiles and scrutinises my mature breasts and nods knowingly…. I know nothing….

She swishes past the curtain and returns with what looks like the inside of a tyre but with sparkly bits… ‘This will stop any movement… things will stay right where they should’. I smile nervously and begin to undress… I pause, waiting for her to leave but she is waiting with the sparkly tyre bra thingy in hand. And there’s not just one, she is holding an assortment of constraints… pink, blue and pretty, others look more…challenging.  
In an attempt to alleviate my slight nervousness I focus on the fact that she is a highly-trained- fitness-and-exercise-garment-consultant, and that she has no interest whatsoever in my fifty year old attachments, other than their geographical positioning.

… There is no way to describe the inelegance, the exorbitant amount of energy and the skill level required to put on a sports bra…. All I can suggest is that you picture a dog that has a sudden and compelling itch and must contort his body or squirm on the lawn to find relief….a similar amount of grunting and leg kicking is necessary to get into a sports bra.

The first bra was too small, obviously, and squeezed my cleavage until it resembled a scrunched up brown paper bag. The life-threatening tightness of the said bondage gave me a head-ache and slightly bulging eyes. The competent sales assistant misinterpreted the tears in my eyes for disappointment.
‘Slip out of that one and we’ll try the next’ she smiled. SLIP!?!?!? 

If I thought putting it on had a high degree of difficulty it was nothing compared to taking it off. I pulled and heaved and started to break out in a sweat…. I must have cried out at one stage as a smaller version of the highly-trained-fitness-and-exercise-consultant popped her Barbie-like head around the curtain and asked if everything was okay. ‘It’s fine!” I hissed… as I grappled with the pain of what could only be a shoulder dislocation. “Here, I’ll help” she offered sweetly and positioned herself behind me. I caught a glimpse of us in the mirror; she had taken the stance that is used to deliver a calf from a cow, while I looked like a Japanese wrestler as I poked back the flesh that was squeezing out wherever it could, like icing in a tube.

But… if I had been physically and mentally squashed by the first bra, the second delivered me from hell. I couldn’t stop admiring and touching my newly shaped and re-defined breasts. They were marvellous! I do not use the term flippantly, as if by some lycra miracle, I had been transformed into cat woman.   

I preened and pranced around the change rooms like a pony! The gorgeous and ever so helpful highly-trained-fitness-and-exercise-consultants applauded en masse. I was stricken by the grandiose idea that I was now an official athlete, because only we athletes could look and feel so good with our perky breasts. My elation knew no bounds “I’ll take two and one of those pink, tiny tank tops too!” The stunning and incredibly talented sales assistants tossed their golden heads and flittered around me like Greek goddesses, sporty and athletic Greek goddesses, who had probably been in an Olympic event or two at some stage and, like me, knew the benefits of a good sports bra.

So, now all that’s left to do is run 12 kilometres sometime in September along with thousands of others. But I’ll be sure to stand out in the crowd, as I prance along in my giddy-up bra, tantalising onlookers with the sparkly bits.