Come Fly With Me

I recently had to travel interstate for work; something that I do on a semi-regular basis. I’ve never understood the jealousy this sometimes incites in people. I’ve often had comments of “ooh, you lucky thing!” Lucky? I’m not sure what exactly is lucky about a 4am wake up call; being crammed into a tiny seat with often very questionable neighbours; long, boring conferences; and dodgy hotel food. Different folks I suppose…

See how rested and happy and vibrant she looks? Yeah, that’s not me.
Image from academysuccess.com

For me, it is the early mornings that are my undoing. I’ve never been very good at getting out of bed, despite having fantasised about all the things I could be doing in the wee hours of the morning. I imagine the hours I could be spending writing, reading the paper or relaxing over a long, healthy breakfast but, despite my best intentions, I’ve never been able to make myself get up. In fact if, by some miracle, I were to achieve this end one of these days, I have a feeling I would end up scribbling foggy-headed nonsense with my Bircher muesli sandwiched between the newspaper and my face.

For those of you who may be thinking I haven’t given this a try, you would be wrong. During my school years when mornings were the only time to practice music and ballet, my tactic was to strategically place my 1970s (LOUD) alarm clock across the other side of my room so I had to fly out of bed to turn the bloody thing off. If I didn’t end up banging out a very uninspired sonata on the violin, I would either take a nap on my ballet barre or cart myself back to bed.

Needless to say, on the morning in question it was a bit of an effort getting out of bed at 4am. Surprisingly, I had a very productive day. I think it was aided by the power nap I grabbed on the flight over (despite the six year old girls giggling at me the whole way) and in part by the copious amounts of caffeine I drowned my body in; however I don’t believe my neighbour on the flight was  aided  in the slightest by the drooling, spasming “suit” sitting next to them. I only hope I didn’t spill coffee into their lap with a rogue arm…

“Tee hee, watch this…”
Image from clipartof.com

As we were coasting at 10,000 metres (I don’t know if that’s correct, but it sounds good, right?) I glanced out my window to a marvellous view of blue sky atop a field of fairy-floss meringues. I’ve always been fascinated by clouds and, despite the science telling me I would fall through, I really want to try jumping on them. I’m convinced it would turn out exactly like a jumping castle only with a delicious snack as an added extra. I blame cartoons for this. Perhaps I should try skydiving?

For me, cloud jumping is like one of those things you are told never to do, which of course just makes the curiosity unbearable. Like Googling “google” or sneezing with your eyes open. You so desperately want to try it, flying in the face of danger that you might just blow up the internet and lose your eyeballs at one fell swoop.

So alas, I am resigned to refrain from my cloud-curiosity and instead will have to be content with looking and not touching. But if the person who pokes and prods every item in the shop is anything to go by (a.k.a. me), I fear looking is futile!

Daddy Cool

This weekend was Father’s Day in Australia. Days like these always make me reflect on what I have and it is nice to be reminded of how lucky I am to have a Dad like mine. Other people speak of their fathers and often their stories are of distance and loss. I feel very fortunate that not only is my Dad still around, he’s a pretty top fella at that.

For most of our growing up years, Mum was the one who worked while Dad was studying at university. For my sister and me, it meant that Dad was around a lot and, reflecting back at my childhood, I feel very privileged that I was able to have these years with him. Not only was he around, but he made such an effort to have quality time with us. In the school holidays we experimented with making paper and crab apple jelly. We collected rocks from the river and painted them together. I loved spending time with him in the shed while he made all kinds of things out of wood and patiently explained how things should go together. I still remember what the “PVA” in PVA glue stands for!

Unfortunately, a lot of people can’t say their Dad’s have always been loving, encouraging and supportive. But I can. I will always remember when Dad printed my first ever poem onto the paper we made. The poem was terrible and I was mortified, but the sentiment has stuck with me and inspired me to write in adulthood. He sat through more violin performances than it is reasonable to put a person through and I can’t remember a hockey match I played without Dad cheering along on the sidelines, despite the frost. When he knew I was having the worst day at work, Dad showed up just to give me a hug. Dad was always the one to give me a stern but supportive word when I had done the wrong thing as a teen and when I grew up and developed a few extra brain cells, I have always known he is proud of me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who says we don’t tell each other enough how much we appreciate them, but I like to think Dad will always know how much he means to me, even when times are tough and I can’t afford to buy him a present to prove it to him! The truth is, if he didn’t know this already, I know he does now because he has read every single blog post I have written, so I know he will read this one too.

So Dad, if you’re reading this (and I know you are), happy Father’s Day. You really are the best father anyone could wish for and I love you a thousand times over.

Just Call Me Captain Olympics!

It’s now just over a week since I last enjoyed the spinning, sweating, gyrating, lycra antics on my television…I’m talking about the Olympics of course! I have to say, it feels like a small Olympic-ring sized hole has been left in my life. It was only sixteen days on the television, but it’s amazing how quickly you adapt to change in your life and new routines.

Although I love watching the swimming, sprinting and rhythmic gymnastics, I have to say I was disappointed with the coverage and after week one I would have been satisfied had I never seen another tumble turn in my life. Our Australian rowers did very well, but honestly, if I had to watch another stroke I would have hit the “off” button faster than you can say “Eaton Dorney”.

It got me thinking about how I would spice up the Olympics had I been the one to invent it. As it turns out it was the Greeks, not I, who invented the Olympics; however I think my ideas stand head and shoulders above burly Greek soldiers sprinting in full armour and competing in chariot races. Although I’ve always loved a good chariot race…

Image from guardian.co.uk

Anyway, so here it is. If I, Captain Olympics (that would be my name), invented the Olympics, I would:

  1. Put a series of wooden staircases in place of hurdles and get the athletes to compete in socks.
  2. Make the synchronised swimmers either dance or swim. It freaks me out just a little bit, perhaps something to do with the “dance face” combined with a pegged nose…
  3. Get all the divers to start from a hand stand. It’s too amazing to not watch it every time.
  4. Get the rhythmic gymnasts to do the thing with the ball on a unicycle. It’s clearly far too easy done on two feet.
  5. While we’re at it, get the track cyclists to compete on unicycles too.
  6. Introduce gumboot throwing in place of the shot-put. The gold medal would go to the person who throws it the furthest AND has the best decorated boot.
  7. Have people riding blow up dolphins and giant seahorses distracting the marathon swimmers. I don’t know if you noticed, but it is very boring.
  8. Give the archers nurf guns instead of bows (is it bows they use?).
  9. Make the basketball hoop sit another few feet higher and give all the players springy stilts…I swear they exist!
  10. And finally, instead of the national anthem, every winning country has to do a novelty dance on the podium. The first one shall be the Chicken Dance.

So there you have it. I think you can agree that these Olympics would be way better and, in essence, I should be crowned Captain Olympics. The end.

What’s that Flipper? I should be crowned Captain Olympics? Oh alright then.
Image from carnivaltoys.com

My Favourite Things

“Run, children, run for your lives!” Maria leads the children in her favourite game: doorbell pranking.
Image from scene-stealers.com

I once played in the orchestra of my school’s production’s of The Sound of Music with my sister. Having both always loved the movie we were pretty stoked to be playing the music despite the challenges for the violin section. After weeks of rehearsals we had committed to memory every line of the script which, consequently, drove my parents bonkers in the car on the way home. I’m sure there were lots of deep breaths from the front seat each time they heard us cry “Maria! Maria! Where’s Maria!”.

Several years later I was lucky enough to be backpacking through Austria when I landed myself in Salzburg; the place where all the Von Trapp magic started. Practising my danke shoens and auf wiedersheins through the corridors of the backpackers where I was staying, I spied a poster that piqued my interest: The Sound of Music Tour. You ripper, I thought, and straight to the booking counter I went. As it turned out, it ended up being a clapping, singing, cheese-fest, but who doesn’t love a bit of cheese, particularly when you can yodel at the same time (note to self: do not try doing both at the same time, you may just choke). As cringe-worthy as some of the tour guides comments and ideas were, it was a great way to see some of the spectacular countryside Salzburg has to offer. Plus I got a photo of the Von Trapp family house, therefore it was totally worth it.

A particular favourite song of mine from the musical was My Favourite Things. I loved Maria’s optimism that if you think of the things you like, everything will be alright. It’s fair to say there was a lot of fitting in of these so called favourite things to the lyrics. I mean, doorbells, Maria? Really?

So working with Maria’s theory, I thought I might do a bit of conjuring of my favourite things…

Rain on my window and chocolate pudding,

Comedy movies like Rat Race with Gooding,

Sunshine and water and Flattley’s flings,

These are a few of my favourite things…

Long, slow cooking and hours of reading,

Writing and gardening as long as it’s not weeding,

Winter and Summer and Autumn and Spring,

These are a few of my favourite things!

So there you have it. See, Maria? I can do it too! Okay, I’ll admit that second line is almost as dodgy as your doorbells, but you try finding something that rhymes with pudding!

I’m considering sending my revised lyrics to the tour guide from Salzburg; it would be such a shame for them to go unheard, and I can guarantee every Sound of Music song would be heard on the tour bus. Loud and on repeat.

 

Family Matters

This weekend we celebrated my Mum’s sixtieth birthday. After much Secret Squirreling, we managed to bring together almost all of her family for a surprise, intimate dinner; quite a feat considering she is one of ten siblings, all of whom live in other states of the country. Consequently we packed out the restaurant and sent the waiters to Whiskeyville by the end of the night.

Turns out Secret Squirrel was an actual character. Who knew!
Image from wikipedia.org

As you can imagine, Mum’s jaw hit the floor when she saw the restaurant packed full of her family. She was so overwhelmed and excited to see them all, it was a beautiful moment. All of the good vibes in the room got me thinking about family.

The subject of family has been explored far and wide through television. Shows like Full House, Family Ties and The Cosby Show showed us that although family can be challenging at times and has it’s ups and downs, at the end of the day it’s like a big decopage: lots of little pieces (the people) are held together by glue (family. See how I metaphor? Do ya?) on a giant duck (okay, I’ve lost the metaphor, but the paper’s got to stick to something, so why not a giant duck?).

Take Family Matters, for example. It tells us that even the most awkward, poorly-dressed, black sheep can be loved by family. It also teaches us that if we do something wrong, all we need to do is say ‘Did I do that?’ (preferably with a nasal twang) and family will accept us. Unfortunately I’m not lucky enough to have a Steve Urkel in my family, and sometimes it is up to television to teach us these lessons.

Steve Urkel: not a member of my family.
Image from entertainment.wikia.com

Like most people, I don’t see our family as often as I should. The thing about family is that, no matter how long it has been since you have seen them, they are still so familiar to you, and not just because you look the same. It gives you ready-made comfort, much like a buttercream cake from a box, only without those little silver cachous that will break your teeth. Family doesn’t change, it doesn’t desert you, and hopefully it doesn’t judge you (and when I say ‘you’ I mean ‘me’) for keeping in contact far less than you should. If I were paparazzi, the world would be finding out about Kate and Wills in 2030.

I did tell you about the Black Plague, didn’t I?
Image from clipart.com

Call me selfish, but although the night was for my Mum, I got a lot out of it myself. It made me remember how happy and loved I feel around my family, simply because they are that: family. I hope that there will be another reunion soon, but until then I will strive to keep in contact, and possibly take a few fashion tips from Steve.

Stop Kidding Around!

Have you ever walked through a park, seen all the crunchy, Autumn leaves blanketing the grass, and felt compelled to dive bomb them? Or maybe you make a bee line for the swings? When was the last time you drew a hopscotch with chalk and hopped your heart out?

If you are reading this, and you are an adult, chances are it has been a while. You may have looked at the leaves, but convinced yourself that leaves in your hair is not proper business attire and it may give everyone in the office the wrong impression. Or perhaps you were worried your bum would get trapped in between the swing’s arms. No? Just me then…

The fact is, we could all do with a dose of childishness from time to time. And no, that doesn’t mean pinching me and repeating everything I say. I said that doesn’t mean…okay, stop it.

When you consider children, their philosophy is mostly: if it’s fun, do it. They don’t think about what other people are going to think about them, and they generally don’t care what state their clothes might be in. Diving head first into a sand box is of no concern to them, so why to us adults?

Image from crankyfitness.com

Quite simply, we only have ourselves to blame. We all want to go on the round-a-bout, but we don’t want to be the first one. We are afraid that other adults will think we are strange or a little crazy.

So what do we need to do? Well, contrary to the title of this post, we need to start kidding around. This week I challenge you to do something you would have done at ten years old without thinking. Even if it is a little hippity-hop every time you step of the curb (which is my personal M.O.). Treat yourself to a little fun in your day. You will be amazed what it can do!

Nap, interrupted.

Image from bestdogpictures.net

A classic case of Murphy’s Law…

After a big week at work and an unnaturally early morning flight which my body simply does not cope with, I have come down with a cold. Lucky for me, I had a long weekend this weekend. I thought I would make the most of the time with a nap or two.

What? They tell me it’s good for recovery!

Anyway, so there I am, snoozing away and all of a sudden my computer starts talking to me. To paint a picture, my laptop sits about a metre away from our couch and, therefore, very close to my head.

“Come into McDonalds and buy the new I’m Going To Wake You Up In a Most Hideous and Confusing Way Burger (or something to that effect)!”

Brain: If I’m dreaming, why is it that the best I can do is McDonalds? If I’m dead, ditto!

You see, somehow (and personally I blame gremlins) something had hovered over one of these ads that talk to you. Now I feel it is only fair to clarify my confusion at this point. My computer had been on for the best part of the previous six hours, not in use. It had not chosen to speak to me in any of those six hours, but just as I was entering the Land of Nod…

BAM! Talking computer.

Despite the unwanted conversation and the phone ringing just for a little added tranquility, I still managed to have a bloody good nap.

I also still have a cold. And I feel like McDonalds.

A Day in the Life

I have been observing my cat, Tommy, this week on my quest for contentment. You see, he, like many other animals I have observed, seems to find happiness in the simple things. As humans, it seems to take a lot to make us feel content. We need to go for a walk on a mild, sunny day with a gentle breeze; our dinners need to be comforting yet healthy with a little variety thrown in for good measure; and hold the phone if our piece of fruit has a blemish!

Tommy, on the other hand, goes tearing through the house whenever he feels like it. He would have Tuna Marinade for dinner every night regardless of how good it is for him. And as for his fruits and vegetables, he’ll pretty much give anything a go once, even a piece of fluff.

After fifteen months observing his behaviour I thought I would try it his way. Maybe the things I think are important, are in fact not. Perhaps cats have the right of it and I have just unlocked the key to eternal happiness!

I had an a-ha moment … a different a-ha moment. (Image from http://www.mtv.com)

So, I decided to live a life in the day of Tommy. A day where his rules rule. So here goes…

Kitty Rulz 1: Sleep. In fact, sleep pretty much anywhere you can, as often as you can. The more awkward the position, the better.

Kitty Rulz 2: Eat small meals often. Food tastes best from the ground. Again, fluff is worth a try.

Kitty Rulz 3: Bend the rules from time to time…but not the Kitty Rulz.

Image from catladyland.net

Kitty Rulz 4: Exercise regularly. Running is good. The more random the better. It keeps everyone on their toes.

Kitty Rulz 5: Keep clean.

Kitty Rulz 6: Take every opportunity to play. It’s fun.

Kitty Rulz 7: The simplest things can be entertaining. Don’t mind the expensive toys, everyday things will do. Straws, bottle tops, fluff…

Image from ilovefunnypics.com

Kitty Rulz 8: Seek sun.

Kitty Rulz 9: Appreciate your surroundings. Show your surroundings they are appreciated by rubbing your face along them or licking them.

Kitty Rulz 10: Look after number one first and foremost. And second…and third…

Image from tickld.com

It was an interesting day and I have to say I haven’t felt this relaxed in a while. I followed most of his rules, with a few exceptions. I slept in this morning and showered (good start). I spent quite a bit of time listening to music and grooving around the house just because I could and it was fun. I deliberately sat in a sunny spot in my house and enjoyed it. Although I should have cleaned my house, I didn’t. What a rebel.  I snacked like a champion and had a great nap in the afternoon (and now have a crick in my neck due to the awkwardness of my position – nice tip Tommy). I also showed my appreciation for our comfy couch by drooling all over it.

The funny thing is, when you break down the Kitty Logic, it is basically the same things that human professionals advise us to do: eat well, get plenty of sleep and Vitamin D, live in the moment, exercise, enjoy life’s simple pleasures, and look after yourself. So, in effect, it is not so much Kitty Logic as Kitman Logic. Or Hutty Logic. Call it what you will, but the point is, our pets are onto something.

Unfortunately, due to breaking the rules (no cleaning) I couldn’t bring myself to eat off the floor. There was just far too much fluff!

I AM a Maniac!

I have to say, dragging my butt along to the gym is not always easy after a full day of phone calls, emails, people, emails, meetings, and did I mention emails? I have a common tactic of getting caught up in a conversation at work just long enough to miss the class I was going to (apparently there are no options other than classes at my gym). The simple fact I forget time and time again is how bloody fantastic I feel after going. I feel like I could conquer the world one treadmill at a time. Move over Jane Fonda, check out my hot cross buns!!

Jane Fonda (Image from flowtv.org)

Today my constitutional of choice was Spin, which in essence is forty-five minutes of  cycling that leaves you quivering in a pool of your own sweat, and a little of the person’s beside you. There happens to be a track in this class that I am particularly fond of: Maniac. In my fuzzy-minded exhaustion, I’ve often contemplated shoving the instructor off the stage and ripping out that classic Flashdance scene. Don’t worry, the instructor would be fine. Not only is he very fit and agile, his padded shorts provide a soft landing platform for his bum.

The aforementioned song has a knack for making me spin my legs off in a way that Barbie simply could not manage. Flying like the speed of light, yet technically going no where, I felt I could have overtaken every row ahead of me in a blaze of over-sized jumper and leotard bottoms. I feel I should mention that I was only the living embodiment of Jennifer Beals in my head, but that is entirely beside the point.

Jennifer Beals is a maniac too! (Image from sowhateverhappenedto.com)

But seriously, if we are talking about getting happy, exercise would have to be one of the best ways of improving your mood. If you have ever pushed yourself past that initial burn and reached the euphoria that only comes with this kind of exercise, you will know what I mean. Today, I could have gone on and on until I fell off my spin bike a la Bridget Jones.

Bridget Jones (Image from culture.com)

I think there is an important point to consider here, however. You do need to enjoy what you are doing just a little bit. That doesn’t necessarily mean enjoying the hours of debate with yourself. Or other people’s stinky feet. Or the eye-full of someone else boob you accidentally got in the change room. Those things no one can enjoy unless of course you are a male lawyer with a foot fetish. The point is that I’m not sure I would get quite the same feeling if I were jogging or rock climbing. I just don’t enjoy those things. But give me an aerobics room or something to punch and I’m a jumping, kicking maniac!

Be warned: what follows is the red, puffy, sweaty phlegm monster, but it’s all part of the magic my friend. If only modern society would still accept the wearing of leg warmers and leotards, I would be as happy as a pig on a spin bike.

Mood Music

Music makes you feel good. I know, duh, right? How many times have you found yourself bopping around to the radio and singing at the top of your lungs like you just don’t care. Or more to the point, how many times has someone else walked in on you doing this. Now there’s a fun experience.

It’s something that we all know, but the fact is it is a fact. Well, at least many a clever person has studied the impact of music on our health and the benefits we can derive from it. Music has been said to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and even improve recovery times following surgery. A friend of mine who suffers from extreme anxiety at the dentist (who doesn’t, I hear you say) was advised by the dentist to listen to music on her earphones while he chipped and prodded and drilled…quick, where’s my iPod!

I have personally tested the theory that music makes you feel better and have taken to wearing earphones when cleaning the house. My study indicates that there was a significant decrease in chipped skirting boards, noise pollution (caused by things slamming into other things) and instances of “toilet face”: a condition caused by toilet water splashing in the subject’s face.

So that proves it: music really does work! Breakthrough accomplished now pass me my Nobel Prize please sir! Who hasn’t felt one hundred times better doing a bit of butt slapping along with Sir Mix-a-Lot. Personally I like to mix-a-lot of Riverdance a la Michael Flatley. Just his legs along would improve anyone’s mood.

At the top of this post you will notice a link to a video which would have to be my ultimate feel good song. I had to pass on my favourite lyrics because they’re just so, well, you make up your own mind:

So what we have to do is move on up and keep on wishing
Remember your dream is your only scheme so keep on pushing

Seriously, try listening to this without busting a groove on your dance floor a.k.a. your living room. In fact, if you’re not inclined to do some toe tapping, I’ll set you a challenge. Try listening to this song, frowning. Honestly, you won’t be able to. Certainly another friend of mine wouldn’t be able to as I recently found out he can’t frown, but that’s another story which was also one hilarious discovery I must say. Perhaps I’ll have to make him the poster boy for my blog…

Enjoy and I hope it leaves you feeling chipper!