10 things every woman should know

stretchmarks1. Everyone has rolls when they bend over.

2. When someone tells you that you’re beautiful, believe them. They aren’t lying.

3. Sometimes we all wake up with breath that could kill a goat.

4. For every woman unhappy with her stretch marks is another woman who wishes she had them.

5. You should definitely have more confidence. And if you saw yourself the way others see you, you would.

6. Don’t look for a man to save you. Be able to save yourself.

7. It’s okay to not love every part of your body….but you should.

8. We all have that one friend who seems to have it all together. That woman with the seemingly perfect life. Well, you might be that woman to someone else.

9. You should be a priority. Not an option, a last resort, or a backup plan.

10. You’re a woman. That alone makes you pretty damn remarkable.

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Packing it all in

suitcase1I write to you from the land of the Kiwis, the home of the All Blacks and bottlers of the finest Sauvignon Blanc. Where chips are “chups”, sex is “sux” and lots of fun things “hair-pen” (happen…)

New Zealand.

It’s a bit of a mini-break. My husband had a few meetings in Wellington and I had a few dollars spare on my credit card.  Win win – for him, for me and for Westpac.

Wellington has more bars and restaurants per head of population than anywhere else in the world. It also has more shoe shops. Walk down Lambton Quay, which is the shopping equivalent of the Queen Street Mall or Orchid Avenue in the 1980s, and you’ll get sore feet from walking in and out of shoe shops.

The only smart thing to do of course is to have a nice sit down on one of the comfy chairs in the shoe shop. And while you’re there, it would be silly not to try on a few pairs. Wasteful, really.

I know I’m not alone in saying that I love to travel. Hell I get excited at an overnight stay in the country to attend a wedding. By country, I mean Ipswich. I try not to go too far west of Kenmore.

What I’m not good at is the packing part. I’m not good at working out what I’m going to wear for the next few days or weeks and getting it all into a suitcase.

Sure I check ahead to see what the weather is going to be like. I see what functions and events we will be going to. I ask my husband to tell me what the baggage weight limit is on the plane.

Then I pretty much open my wardrobe and throw its entire contents into as many suitcases as required.

In the second Sex And The City movie, Carrie gets on the Abu Dhabi-bound flight wearing a hat so enormous it needed its own boarding pass. That hat is never seen nor heard from again. Yes yes I know it’s a movie but she sent a very clear signal that packing doesn’t need to measured or sensible.

What I tend to overlook is that for the most part, I’m travelling to places that have shops and credit card facilities and ATMs etc. If I forget something crucial – a particular lipstick in a fetching shade of rose pink or a pair of black tights – there’s always more at the shops.

The bigger problem is that I don’t leave room for any holiday shopping. That normally requires the purchase of an additional bag. And quite often the purchase of additional baggage allowance.

Travelling by car, whilst devoid of the whole international immigration clearance and duty free shopping fun, means that there’s no real limit on bags.

And it means I become delusional.

Say I’m going to the Gold Coast for a week. I get it into my head that I’m going to be all Mother Nature and Mrs Home Maker and cook a few recipes that are on my cooking wish list. This requires the packing of the wok, my knives, my mortar and pestle and goodness knows how many other kitchen gadgets.

Reality being that we eat out pretty much for three meals a day.

Once I was determined to embrace a healthy outlook and packed my juicer and all manner of vegetables. The juicer never left the boot of my car and the vegies went the way of the compost bin.

About 10 years ago, I was in Singapore with one of my best friends, enjoying this Asian hub’s sights, sounds and tastes. There was lots of fun things to buy, especially in the newly emerging electronics sphere. When it was time to come home, I couldn’t for the life of me get my bag shut.

In desperation, I held my bag firm while my friend bodily dove from one of the twin beds to the other where my case lay gaping, attempting to use the force of body weight to shut it. It is possible we may have been drinking when we came up with this Herculean idea. It didn’t work. I had to buy another bag.

Another time, in Europe, I was at a check-in counter in Slovakia being told that the baggage limit was 15kg or face horrendous fines.

I got the weight of my case to the prescribed limit, but only through wearing three jackets, draping two pairs of boots about my neck, throwing out my shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, and dragging two carry-on bags.

This trip is only a week but I think I’m doing ok. The test of course will be at the Qantas counter on Monday.

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Hair crash investigations

cb

I’ve just returned from my hairdresser, $155 and four inches of hair lighter. The $155 I’m ok with, as this includes a colour, a toner, a treatment, a cut and a straighten.

The four inches of hair is another matter. It is a result of a hair crash.

I’ve always embraced long hair. Apart from that short period circa 1981 when I went all Diana-esque – if I couldn’t have a prince, I was sure as shit going to have a princess’s hair – it’s been long, long, long. Like do it up on your head long. Like plait it long.

And it seems that just when I’ve got it looking amazing, I do something brainless to ruin it and then spend the next year or two recouping.

Here’s what I mean.

About 1985, I landed on the brilliant idea of having a “body wave” put through my hair. Think Farrah Fawcett. Lots of lustrous fat curls all sweeping and swooning about.

I instructed my hairdresser as to my wish. Pulled out copies of TV Week to demonstrate. And I walked out of that salon with hair curled as short and tight as the old lady who calls bingo on Tuesdays in the Valley.

I’d noticed he was cutting quite a bit of my hair off. I’d noticed that the rollers he was using were worryingly small. But I had faith. Belief. What a sucker. Turns out that LJ’s Hair Salon in Coorparoo specialises in perms for the lawn bowls set and I got caught up in their pensioner enthral.

I rushed home and washed it and blew it dry and washed it again. I kept it wringing wet for the next 24 hours. But just like a pensioner in the right lane, those curls weren’t moving.

I put my head down and waited for it to grow again.

Which it must have, because when my daughter was born in 1991, there are pictures of me in unattractive hospital gowns with metres of hair all down my back.

Not much went wrong in the 1990s, mainly because I was too busy working full time, raising my girl, paying back a home loan that Paul Keating had set at 17% and getting divorced.

So I was a bit late to join the Jennifer Aniston/Rachel Green hairstyle party. I’d known about it, I’d seen the invitations, but I’d never gone along. I was determined to change that.

So I rang my hairdresser at the time. Groovy lady, ran some uber-cool salon in that antiques precinct in Woolloongabba. Comes complete with Foxtel, champers, ensuite, gay assistant and scalp massages.

I must admit I sprung my visit on her. I committed that heinous offence of ringing in the morning for an afternoon appointment. So I wasn’t surprised when she remorsefully conveyed the news that she was, in fact, already booked (doh!) but if I really wanted to come, her associate Greta could assist.

I said that would be fine.

Not realising the catastrophic mistake I’d made, I arrived for my hair cut confident in the fact that if the lovely Greta is working under the tutelage of my fabulous hairdresser, nothing can go wrong.

So Greta is chatting to me about her adorable son, I’m throwing in appreciative quips and anecdotes about my daughter, her scissors are doing their thing, blonde hair (mine) is scattered across the floor, I’m paying little or no attention – until I glance up from my magazine to see a huge chunk of my long hair fall victim to her sharp scissors. From a place on my head where I had asked for it to please stay long.

It’s pretty hard to get upset at a hairdresser when you’re sitting in a chair with plastic wrapped around you like a straight jacket, and they’re holding sharp scissors, sometimes upwards of three pairs at once.

Instead of a gentle layering around the front of my face, she’s hacked at right angles, creating this harsh stepped layering. It was awful.

I grabbed her wrist, and pleaded with her to stop. “You’re ruining my hair!” I wailed.

“But it’s the Rachel cut,” she countered.

It seems that her version of Rachel was somewhat different to mine. I think the Rachel she was referring to was on work release and lived with her tattoos and rollies in a caravan park down near Eagleby.

I wore my hair up for nine months after that one.

Around 2007, I got myself in trouble again, and this time there was no one to blame but me. My GHD straighteners were less than a year old but were put to good use most days. No more hours of blow drying, no more clumpy “snakey” hair, just a perfect sheet of blonde.

On this particular day, I shooshed a bit of hairspray on the front strands to hold them in place. I examined the end result and wasn’t totally happy as my hair wasn’t as straight as I’d prefer.

Not to worry, I thought, as I fired up my straightener and swiped its paddles over my hair. A sizzling noise, not dissimilar to pork fat being thrown onto a super hot bbq griddle, was emitted. A hideous smell not dissimilar to rancid meat being microwaved was expelled.

I’d burnt my own hair. The chemicals in the hairspray clearly weren’t too happy when the heat was applied and they took it out on my hair. How could I be so dumb!?

It ended with me at the hairdresser in tears, watching my locks fall around me as this poor fellow muttered to himself in Spanish about how silly blonde women shouldn’t be given access to things that required heat. Or electricity.

Which brings me to my recent hairdresser visit. You see, one night a few months ago, it was quite late and I was in my bathroom taking out my hair. That morning, I’d tied it in a high ponytail, looped the tail part over the elastic and then messily pinned it to create one of those chaotic-on-purpose hairstyles.

It had been a long day. I was heading overseas on holidays the following week and there was much to do at work to get things in order. I’d lurched home late, guzzled a glass of wine, reheated a plate of food, and then headed to the bathroom for a shower.

As I was taking my hair out, the elastic band got caught. The more I pulled and tugged the more my hair entwined itself around the offending elastic. Desperate for a shower and sleep, I grabbed some scissors and maleficently chopped at the elastic band.

Without a mirror.

After a glass of wine.

As I snipped, I heard a sound and remember thinking, “this can’t be good.” It wasn’t. I pulled away and in my hand was a good six inches of my hair, and no elastic in sight.

It was, of course, still caught in my hair.

My wailing brought my husband, who cut the elastic for me, after he had finished rolling on the floor in laughter. For better or worse anyone?

The next day I was at the hairdresser, having layers and layers cut all around my hair in an attempt to hide the cruelty of my home haircut, while my hairdresser and all her assistants rolled about on the floor in laughter.

Which brings me to this week, where I can proudly say that my hair has been behaving nicely and growing steadily, and the four inches I lost yesterday brings the layers of my hair closer together.

Once upon a time, I used to get my hair and nails done at the same place. Triple As for convenience in geographical location and efficiency in dialogue. I didn’t have to make separate trips and I didn’t have to give the same updates twice. They could cut, file and listen together.

Until the day dawned, about three years into this mutually festive partnership, that I was no longer thrilled with the quality of my nails. I knew I’d have to find another technician. Which women of the world will understand meant I had to find a new hairdresser as well. I could hardly waltz in there for a haircut and bypass the nail studio. I had to cut all ties (pun intended) and start again.

Here’s hoping I get to the end of this decade without another disaster. My husband has my hairdresser on speed dial, however, just in case.

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My right to bare arms

001Oh shit. Shit shit shit shit shit. It’s nearly summer, hey.

Which is actually ok by me, despite my repetitive profanities.

Now you know I’m not really a winter person. It’s like beach or countryside. Tea or coffee. Country or western. We tend to be either one or the other.

I’m more your summer person. I like to swim, eat outdoors and drink white wine that is almost sub-Arctic in temperature. I like to sleep with the scent of my jasmine vine wafting over me. Gawd that was almost poetic!

My birthday is the 25th of August and people are often perplexed as to why an imminent birthday causes me no grief. It’s because once my birthday is done, there’s literally one week more until winter is over. Literally. Praise to you Lord Summer.

For a brief moment every year, I pause to consider whether I would like to change teams and become pro-winter. Like voting for Clive Palmer. I think that one day I’ll be all nasty and menopausal and wanting to put my head in the freezer. Brisbane summers look like they could be somewhat brutal to menopausal women.

Or when we got back from a few weeks in the UK, where I wore 5-metre long scarves in some ultra-chic Elizabeth Hurley way, and slept under massive goose feather doonas, and drank wee drams of whiskey by the fire… Yes then I think I might like to be a winter person.

That is, until it’s time to go back to work and I’m standing at the train station at 6:45am and it’s freezing. [Read more…]

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Single woman vs married woman

002Having been both single and married for equally significant periods in my life, I feel well qualified to share these insights. Let me know if you agree with anything I’ve said…

What to do when there’s a noise in the night

Single girl: She’ll prod whatever random lover she chose for the night, and ask him to go investigate. Ten bucks says that while he’s poking around and finding there’s nothing sinister going on, she’ll suggest that, seeing as he’s up, he may as well head home. That way she can snuggle down and have a blissful solo sleep and not have to contend with the morning-after-the-night-before issue of making a noise in the toilet.

Married girl: She’ll prod her husband, who is lying flat on his back and snoring louder than a coffee grinder, and ask him to go investigate. Ten bucks says that while he’s poking around and finding there’s nothing sinister, she’ll ask him to bring her a cup of tea on his way back, check on the kids and empty the kitty litter. No point wasting the effort of getting up.

What to do when cooking for one

Single girl: She uses her oven for storage and keeps hair accessories in her Tupperware. She’s not cooking for one. Either she makes a massive pot of something on the weekend, and eats the same thing every night, or she has a glass of wine and a piece of cheese. Because who can be bothered. Mind you, if she’s got herself organised, she’ll have one of her attentive admirers take her out for dinner. Straight after work of course, because who can be bothered going home to change when all you want is food.

Married girl: If she’s cooking for one it means either of these: She’s put herself on a diet and won’t be eating a morsel until next Tuesday, so she has to rustle up something for her husband. In instances like this, hubby should count himself fortunate if she bothers to microwave the baked beans before she dumps them on some toast and hands them to him. Or, option two, hubby is away for the night and she’s got the whole house to herself. She won’t be cooking then either. She’ll be busy watching back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones or Sex and the City, and pouring her dinner into a wine glass.

What to do when the car breaks down

Single girl: She’s sensibly a member of some reputable breakdown service. She’ll phone them up and once they know she is a) single and b) stranded alone, will have a mechanic to her in no time. He fixes up her car, checks her hand for a wedding ring, asks her out, gets a polite rebuff but he still says he’ll watch her drive off just to make sure everything is ok. If she’s not a member of a reputable breakdown service she’ll take the only other viable option. She’ll ring her dad.

Married girl: Of course, it’s the husband’s fault. Isn’t he in charge of servicing, battery replacements and fuel? She’ll ring her husband up, and berate him for forgetting to ensure her car was roadworthy, tell him it’s all his fault she’s stuck on Gympie Road with a car that won’t start, and ask him what is he going to do about it? The husband then rings the reputable breakdown service on her behalf and gives them the address of where she is, and wishes them luck. The husband will probably get cold baked beans for dinner that night. The wife will have wine.

What to do when there’s a big electricity bill

Single girl: She never has to worry about a big electricity bill because she rarely cooks and when she’s home, she only uses small side lamps or candles because this type of lighting makes her look younger, softer and more alluring. Even if she’s the only one in the house, there’s no point in scaring herself when she looks in the mirror. She really only needs electricity to keep her wine cold and her hair straighteners hot.

Married girl: Instantly blames the husband. He’s the one who comes home and switches every light on. He stays in the shower for 20 minutes, insists on having five televisions with Foxtel, and will put the dishwasher on when it contains only two dirty saucepans and a knife. He’s the one out in the shed with the drill and angle grinder and bench and saw goodness knows what else. Therefore, it seems logical that he should pay it. She usually rings the utility provider to let them know this.

(Part 2 to follow shortly)

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The story of Mrs Nock

musicSit back. I’m going to tell you a story about Mrs Nock.

The reason I tell it now is because she died last week. Not in a tragic-screaming-car-crash-murder-suicide-death-plunge way. Simply because she was old. And even by today’s standards, when you’re in your 90s you’re old.

Sure, you can be sprightly. Agile. Active. But you’re still old.

So it’s not a sad death story. Pop those tissues back in your purse. But it brought back many memories.

Mrs Nock was my piano teacher. My parents were those vigilant breed of parents who drilled my brothers and me in table manners, made us do chores, and enrolled us in all manner of things like Sunday School, girl guides, boy scouts, and music lessons.

Now the Sunday School bit was all right. We grew up in the Wynnum-Manly area so the kids we went to school with were the kids we went to girl guides with, and were the kids we went to Sunday School with. They were also the kids we played with after school.

On the weekends, my brothers and I would get on our bikes, grab the dog and head off down the street to meet our friends with our mum hollering after us, “Just make sure you’re home when the street lights come on!” She knew we would be safe. We didn’t know that we couldn’t be anything but safe. 1974 was a wonderful time to be eight years old.

The only time I became obstinate, belligerent and uncooperative was when the piano was involved.

I hated the bloody piano. Ergo I hated Mrs Nock.

Twice a week, Dad would drive me the three blocks to her house, drop me off, and go back home to watch Bellbird with Mum, arriving back 30 minutes later to collect me.

During those 30 minutes, I would unimaginatively bash these poor ivory keys, making Chopin, Bach and Liberace collectively turn in their graves. Well, I think Liberace was still alive back then, but you know what I mean.

Scales and more sodding scales. Mrs Nock loved scales. Middle C, F sharp and B bloody flat. Scales have the sex appeal of a dial tone. It went on for years. In 1978 I took Mrs Nock the sheet music for Kermit’s Rainbow Connection that I’d lovingly saved up for and purchased from Palings in the city. She gently put it aside, placed Mendelssohn in front of me, and that was that. Sorry Kermit.

If that wasn’t torture enough, she’d then turn on the metronome. Now, a metronome can actually make a dial tone sound sexy. It could give you a migraine. It would smile at me from the top of the piano, like a mother-in-law in a divorce court, and keep clacking away.

Such was Mrs Nock’s enthusiasm for her piano, she would train up mobs of us to play trios and enter us in all manner of frightful events like eisteddfods and charity concerts and telethons. She’d dress us in her favourite colours of lilac and pale blue and conduct away while I sat squashed in the middle trying to play my bits without stabbing anyone in the heart.

Adulthood and moving out of home at 18 solved the Mrs Nock/piano problem. That is, until my mother effusively gave me the piano, and I spent the next 20 years dragging it all over Brisbane at great expense every time I moved house. I finally got over my Mrs Nock/piano guilt and sold it.

And adulthood, as it is prone to do, also gave me a fresh perspective on Mrs Nock. Because it is the little things that as kids you never notice that become points of awareness when you’ve grow up.

Here’s what I mean. My lesson started at 7pm, and at 7.05pm each time, Mr Nock would come into the music room to bring his wife a cup of tea. He would then return to the kitchen and continue washing the dishes (I could hear him, even over my scales). At 7.20pm he would retrieve Mrs Nock’s tea cup and go wash that up as well.

In addition to home tuition, Mrs Nock also taught at Brisbane’s Grammar Schools, became a trained cathedral organist and got herself three university degrees. And had some kids of her own. She didn’t drive, nor was she particularly partial to public transport, so it was Mr Nock’s job to ferry her to her various commitments and back.

I’m not even sure that she cooked, cleaned or ironed either. Mr Nock was often spied folding a bit of washing in the lounge room while he watched Bellbird at night.

She’d read about a concert, or hear that some bods from Trinity College would be in town, and it was game on. Gangs of us practicing all over place, getting special pieces ready to perform. She’d garner extra support from a xylophone or a drum, and we were a veritable amateur orchestra.

Single-minded, determined, forthright. A woman who knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid of going after it. That was Mrs Nock.

2013 is an era where women pursuing their goals and reaping rewards from their passions and making strong choices about the person they want to be are as commonplace as wifi and cheap wine. But in 1974, it was really only just starting.

Yet there was Mrs Nock forging ahead with her plans, dream and talents and not bothered in the slightest by societal conforms or neighbourhood perceptions. And it seemed that neither was her perfect partner Mr Nock, who faithfully brought her tea and kept the car filled with petrol so he could assist his fabulous wife.

I think there’s something in that for all of us. Don’t you?

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Do your boobs hang low?

Sing this with me sisters:

Do your boobs hang low
Do they wobble to-and-fro
Can you tie them in a knot
Can you tie them in a bow
Can you throw them o’er your shoulder
Like a continental soldier
Do your boobs hang low?

Back in the days when jokes were distributed around offices and factories by fax, I remember picking up this gem.

It was a picture of this little old lady at a bus stop, looking at some beefy burly bloke wearing a t-shirt offensively emblazoned with “Show me yer tits”. Next graphic is the little old lady demurely lifting the bottom of her knee-length coat to show two exhausted breasts flopping limply just above her knees. [Read more…]

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You’re fired

firedMy first job was at Big W at Carindale. It was waaaaay back in 1980, when I was in Grade 10. Yes, grade. We hadn’t upgraded to ‘year’ at that stage. Thursday night and Saturday morning.

Back then, in those halcyon days, the shops only opened late on Thursdays, and at 12.01pm Saturday, they were locked up tight and everyone either went to the footy, the pub or the uni library to study.

My daughter once asked me how I ‘coped’ with such restricted access to retail opportunities. But it’s the same stock answer anyone who’s older gives to anyone who’s younger when they ask how we ‘coped’.

We didn’t know any different.

My career at Big W started with the checkout, [Read more…]

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I’m losing my mind

The first time I noticed it was the other Saturday morning. When I finally got out of bed, I stripped the sheets to make ready for fresh ones.

I took said sheets downstairs to the laundry. Looking out the laundry door, I saw a few ugly weeds sprouting rudely below the shrubs down the northern side of our house. I plonked the sheets on the floor and went out to pull the wretches.

While outside, I noticed the Saturday papers on the lawn. It always delights me that someone has a good heart and a robust spirit to rise at 2am, wrap newspapers in plastic and drive around the suburbs chucking them out a car window.

I’ll get back to the laundry load, I think, [Read more…]

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Girl, you’ll be a woman soon

Every now and then, I topple over and twist my ankle. Sometimes it’s because I’ve had too much to drink and my heels are too high and my husband is too far away for me to balance against him.

Sometimes it’s because I’m making like Elle Macpherson and jogging on the beach in a bikini and go A over T in a hole in the sand.

Sometimes I am just walking down the street minding my own business and over I go. My husband always tells me not to walk and text at the same time.

The result of this constant clumsiness is that my ankle invariably ends up tightly bandaged in this stretchy crepe material for a few days.

And on Christmas Day, at the buffet lunch at the Gold Coast casino, I found out that the same stretchy stuff is now being used for dresses.

Or so it appeared. [Read more…]

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