Our top 20 list of instructions for life (in no particular order)

  1. rulesStop worrying about how your kids are going to turn out. Once they become adults it’s up to them to get their lives sorted. All you can do is arm them with good principles, teach them right from wrong, make sure they brush their teeth and show them how wonderful it is to love.

  2. When faced with a health problem, get a few opinions. You may have been seeing your doctor since you were in the womb, but you’re entitled to have the broadest knowledge possible.

  3. Never be afraid to say I don’t know, or I’m sorry, or I love you, or I need help. Or I made a mistake.

  4. Sleep with a pen and paper beside your bed. When an idea hits you at 3am, or you remembered you need to do something the next day, scribble it down and then your mind will rest and you can go back to sleep.

  5. If someone is telling you a story about something great or something funny that happened to them, don’t be in a rush to come over the top with your own story. Let them have their moment in the sun, don’t rain on their parade. There’s plenty of time later for you to tell your story.

  6. When you get a crappy email, give yourself at least one hour before you respond. Overnight if you can. You may have been provoked, but provoking that person back just makes the problem circular. And when you respond, start with “Dear X, thanks for your email”. You’ll be surprised how setting a friendly tone can disarm the other person.

  7. It’s all well and good to marry someone you are hopelessly in love with, or someone with whom you have great sex. Or makes you laugh or has lots of money. But if you really want a life partner, pick someone who doesn’t ask you to sacrifice too much of yourself to secure the relationship. You were fine as you were before that person came along. You don’t need to change for them.

  8. Read to your children. Sing to your children. Listen to your children. In ten years from now, it won’t matter that the dishes weren’t washed or the sheets changed. It will matter that you all headed outside in the rain to kick water in the gutter.

  9. Don’t ever watch sausages being made.

  10. Go on every date you’re asked. Doesn’t matter if he’s too short, too dull or too old. You don’t have to sleep with him, just have a coffee. You don’t know if you may end up with a long term friend, or get further introductions to other guys, or even opportunities for business or travel. Don’t limit your experiences. And a coffee only takes 15 minutes.

  11. When you’re an overnight guest, don’t just make the bed in the morning. Ask your host for clean sheets and do the job properly. Chances are once you’ve left, your host would only have to strip it down and put fresh sheets on herself.

  12. You never need that last drink.

  13. You always need sunscreen. Even in winter. Put it on the back of your hands when you’re driving. Put it all around your neck and décolletage.

  14. Don’t think a higher price always means higher quality. But if you’re shopping for an item, be it a jacket, a lounge suite, a car or whiskey, that you think is going to be around for more than five years, buy the best you can afford.

  15. Don’t discuss business in the lift. You never know who might overhear you. If you’re going to have a good bitch about someone at work, take a look around first to make sure the coast is clear. You never know who might be listening and reporting back.

  16. Commit yourself to constant self-improvement. Learn to cook a curry from scratch, jog five kilometres without stopping, ballroom dance or meditate. Rid words like “try” and “should” from your vocabulary. Smile all the time. Write affirmations and goals and read them every day. With a smile.

  17. Learn to forgive. Forgiveness is simply accepting that you can’t change the past. No one can change the past.

  18. Give people a second chance. But not a third.

  19. Never deprive someone of hope. It might be all they have.

  20. Lend only books, CDs and DVDs you never want to see again

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The pen is mightier than the iPad

pen

A bit of humour for a cold evening… hope you get a laugh! xx

Everyone knows how to use a pen. Even your grandmother

Most people can pay for a pen with cash.

It is common to own more than one pen.

You don’t get fired if you steal a pen from work.

It’s not a big deal if someone borrows your pen and doesn’t bring it straight back.

And if someone borrows your pen and loses it, it’s usually not a big deal either.

Your pen can be active or switched on for longer than 10 hours.

Your pen will still work, even if you have left it alone for one month.

If, by chance, your pen does run out, you can buy a new one, for as little as $1.00.

You don’t need to wait for your new pen to charge up before you can use it.

Your pen automatically knows you’re from Australia so it won’t omit the “U” from words like “humour” and “colour”.

You don’t need to secure or password-lock your pen when you leave it on your desk or in your car.

A pen doesn’t make a harsh beeping noise or add a red underline when you spell a word incorrectly.

You don’t need to pack a special adapter for your pen when you travel overseas.

It is not often that you have to put up with people boasting about having the latest pen.

People don’t usually bore you by showing off their pen to you.

You are allowed to operate a pen while the aeroplane is taking off and landing.

A pen doesn’t need to be put into flight mode.

When you pen runs out, you usually throw it away.

If you look, you’ll probably find a pen in your glove box or under your couch.

A pen comes with its own apps, ie. 4-colour combos, cap or click, fine or medium point.

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On motherhood #3

Life rarely turns out as you hope or plan or dream. Neither do your kids. That’s ok. Be flexible. Go with what you have, work with what you’ve been given. No matter what, being a mum is a gazillion times better than you could ever have expected – for better or for worse.

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On motherhood #2

Sure your kids need boundaries. My kids need boundaries. But ultimately you don’t teach them about boundaries through setting and enforcing rules. They learn about them from the examples that you set … the way you live your life, your beliefs and values, the boundaries that you set for yourself. This is what has the greatest impact on your children.

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On motherhood #1

Here’s the thing. When my daughter was at school, I felt guilty running to work (away from her) and felt guilty running home (away from work). But looking around, I realised there is no perfect mother, whether she goes out to paid work or doesn’t. You simply do the best you can, with what you have, and that is good enough for your kids. Ironically, when you reach that point, and realise you’re doing your best, you seem to get more time to relax and enjoy your little family xo

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Pop psychology

dadAnyone who reckons that kids say the darndest things hasn’t had a conversation with my father.

You know that saying “dad jokes”? Those irritating, repetitive comments made by fathers globally that are marked by two distinct features. They are not funny and they become less funny the more they are repeated.

Here’s an example. You give dad a bottle of wine for his birthday and he shakes it saying, “I know, I know! It’s a book!”

He looks at the roast that mum has just pulled out of the oven, casts a glance at the kids, picks the serving plate up and says, “I’m not sure what you lot are eating for dinner, but here’s mine.”

My dad is one of those dads. He indisputably believes he is funny. He has this repertoire of jokes which he has been repeating with appalling regularity since I could understand English.

Take Christmas Day lunch. My mother painstakingly bakes this plum pudding then goes about shoving all manner of imperial coinage into its centre. The task being that as we eat, we chorus over who scored a shilling and who got a sixpence (go figure).

Not so for dad. He’s eating away, aware that nobody is paying him the slightest bit of notice, when he starts this phoney coughing routine. After a few good snorts and the satisfaction of having grabbed everyone’s attention, he makes a big production of pulling money from his mouth – except it’s a $20 note not a 20 pence coin that he’s carefully hidden in his hand.

He brought new meaning to Norman Lindsay’s “The Magic Pudding”. The wrong meaning.

It is interesting to note that as higher denominations were introduced by the government, so dad introduced them to us at the Christmas table. When the $100 note hit mainstream currency, we knew we only had to wait till Christmas to see it

We’ve also been through Bankcard, Mastercard, Visa, Platinum Amex, Diners, Medicare, Qantas Club, Fly Buys and more recently, the Seniors Card, all apparently excavated from dad’s pudding. Along the way was a DJs card, Myer card, Harvey Norman card – exactly how many credit cards does my father have?

It’s not just at Christmas. Every time we go over a speed bump in the car he hollers “oh, there go my false teeth”. Every time we drive past a cemetery he comments “people are dying to get in there”.

Once we were driving down a street like quite normal people when he pulled up suddenly. “What’s the matter dad?” I foolishly asked. “There’s an ant crossing.”

Dads are biological necessities but social accidents. They’re always getting excited about something. When I moved into my first flat (yes, it was a flat, not a townhouse, not an apartment, not a unit – but I was poor) I did the right thing and had mum and dad over for dinner.

Excited or what! He rang me every morning for a week to tell me that he was bringing my favourite bottle of bubbles (tragically, at the age of 19 it was Asti Riccadonna, don’t hate me). He rang every afternoon for a week to tell me mum was making a lasagne to bring (tragically, at the age of 19, I couldn’t cook and mum had to supply the food, don’t hate me).

It’s only dinner dad, I would placate, not an audience with Oprah.

Dads are also very good at being protective of their daughters. Sons don’t bother them so much.

At the tender age of 17, my brother did not come home for two nights following a win in his soccer grand final. Now, this is 1979 in the Pre-Mobile Phone Era. Was dad worried?

Not a bit.

But when I went to my school dances, dad would unashamedly walk into the hall 15 minutes before finishing time and come looking for me. Once, I was doing something naughty like having a fag in the loo or pashing a boy under a table, and heard my dad’s voice over the speaker, “Bronwyn, this is your father, come home with me now please.”

I would rather swallow a battery.

Dads have patience. In the swimming pool, my father would stand astride about two metres from the pool edge for seemingly hours, so his three children in military order could dive in and swim between his legs.

I tried it once with my daughter when she was about six. I grew bored by the third dive even though I was holding my wine, and had to get her father to relieve me. Of course, as he was a dad, he was fittingly capable of remaining in that position all afternoon or until our young princess grew weary – whichever came first.

In my defence, I brought him a beer and the cricket score.

Dads also have a touch of Captain Obvious. One time dad rang me when I was in my doctor’s waiting room. After telling him where I was he replied “so are you waiting to see the doctor?” Or when I hand him a cup of tea he says “is that for me?”

“No dad, it’s for the guy next door. He sells vacuum cleaners for a living, listens to AM and is completely hairless but I’m attracted to him.

“Of course it’s bloody well for you! “

Save the earth. Not only is it the only planet with chocolate, it’s the only planet with dads.

Love you dad xxx

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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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You touched me Chrissy

chrissyampChrissy Amphlett terrified my parents.

Although to be fair, they actually didn’t know her name was Chrissy Amphlett. They wouldn’t have bothered with that much detail. To them, she was that vulgar woman who sang those lewd songs.

Cover your ears darling daughter, you might lose your virginity.

I’m not going to have my only daughter corrupted by such foulness on the radio.

Bronwyn, turn off 4IP (or 4BK) now, or I will confiscate your radio.

I think any woman who sang a song other than Fernando terrified my parents – Tina Turner, Martika, Martha and her Muffins, Kids in America chick Kim, Cher, Magenta, Madonna, that fabulous gal who sang about having brass in her pocket (Chrissie with an “ie”) and any female who wore a lot of black eyeliner on her lower lid.

Interestingly, they weren’t so worried about the boy singers, and there was no requirement for them to take the lead in Fernando. They particularly loved Racey, even though they begged me to lay my love on them. They adored The Proclaimers, even though they foolishly said they would walk 500 miles when airfares are so affordable. Peter Allen was a particular favourite but seriously, I give you one word. Rio. Code for gay.

Billy Field, Jamie Redfern, Glen Campbell. Any male on Young Talent Time, apart from its host. All were verifiable husband material. Bon Scott, Doc Neeson, Jimmy Barnes? No, they weren’t heavy rockers, they were just silly boys having a bit of silly fun.

Maybe the 1980s were too early for my folk to embrace girl power. Maybe they were worried I was going to take the lesbian route. Maybe they don’t like eyeliner.

Regardless, I loved Chrissy. Correction – love. I’ll tell you why.

Her song, “I touch myself” is pretty much faultless for me when we’ve all had one too many vinos and going to a karaoke bar seems like the smartest idea since Nicole married Keith.

Its sexy words and sensual undercurrent means I don’t have to dash about the stage in manner of a crazed Cyndi Lauper; instead I can croon seductively and truly believe that I have charismatic pheromone-infused vocal prowess.

Really it’s the wine singing, but so what.

You know how people talk about their favourite super power? Being invisible, bionic strength, reading minds?

I’d like to be able to sing. Sing like Kelly Clarkson. Or Whitney before the drugs. Hold a microphone and belt out a note – hard, strong and confident.

Chrissy’s song is the only song where I can do that, and still show my face in public the next day.

So Chrissy, thank you for music even though it wasn’t Fernando.

I don’t want anybody else. Just you and your song.

Hope you’re at peace xo

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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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Lift etiquette

Lifts. They were invented to make our lives easier, faster. And if I were to die in one, I’d push the up button first. Yet some people get on board leaving their brain and manners in the loading dock.

Here’s what I mean.

Scenario 1: You’re already in the lift, heading up to level 22. Someone gets in at level 7 and elects to disembark at level 15. Fair enough.

Until you get to level 15. The doors open and this fool stands around, idly admiring his comb over in the mirrors, unaware that he’s supposed to get out. But I guess not every oyster contains a pearl.

“Oh, is this my floor?” he ends up spluttering, all the while checking the LED display just to make sure. Was he expecting a red carpet, some form of fanfare, a media opportunity perchance? Just get out.  [Read more…]

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