Like most mothers, I turn into Xena Warrior Princess if anyone so much as thinks about hurting my children; a fully-grown bear would hesitate to take me on when I’m in rabid-mother-defending-my-children mode. Unless…
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I love it when life presents me with new ideas, new skills to learn, new things. While I might get a bit scared at first, I love strapping on my big boots, picking up my rucksack and heading off into the Great Unknown looking for the Next Big Adventure.
Which is why I’m now the proud joint owner of a radio station.
My brother, Alan, and I have never been really close. Actually, that’s totally unfair on Alan. I suspect that Alan wanted to get close to me when we were growing up but I was such and angsty teenaged bitch from about the age of 5, when he was born, that I wouldn’t let him anywhere near me. So, we’ve never been close because I spent my childhood doing whatever I could to make his life miserable. Unfortunately for our parents, Alan soon picked up on how to do the same things back to me and we spent our youth fighting with one another at every opportunity.
Australia is big.
That’s stating the obvious, right, but it’s all very well to know that in an abstract, classroom kind of way; it’s quite a different thing to experience it.
Australia is big.
When we lived in the UK, John and I would get in the car, head down to the south coast and catch a ferry over to France at every opportunity. At that time, The UK had just started the free trade agreement with Europe so there were no import duties on things that you bought in Europe and brought back to the UK, which meant that… alcohol was really, really cheap.
We paid huge taxes on alcohol in the UK and all of a sudden, we could stick the car on the ferry, fill it up with alcohol from a hypermarche in one of the French ports and bring back a car load of booze for about half the cost of buying it locally, even when you included the cost of getting to France and back. Groups of friends (our friends, I have to admit but I’m assuming other people did it!) clubbed together and a couple of them would set off to pastures cheaper (or at least, alcohol cheaper) and bring back the cut price manna from heaven.
A couple of months ago, an old friend, Jane, got in touch with me completely out of the blue. In one of the bizarre twist s that life likes to put on us, we discovered that we were both going through pretty much exactly the same things in our lives. The similarities were really quite spooky. We thought that it would be a great idea to set up a daily call to each other so we could share what was happening for us that day and to keep ourselves on track because one of the things we both noticed about ourselves was that we have all these great ideas, all these good intentions… and we never carry them out. Actually, that’s not true, sometimes I carry out the ideas, but most of the time, they fall by the wayside and life goes on in the same old way that it always has and before I know it, bang! There’s another year gone by and I still haven’t started that project that was such a fantastic idea.
When I was at senior school, back in the dim mists of time as far as my teenaged daughter is concerned, we were given Gerald Durrell’s book My Family & Other Animals to read. I remember quite clearly been offended by the title on behalf of his family. I thought that it was grossly unkind if not downright rude to not only group his family in with the animals they all had but to call them animals in the first place. I mean, I knew that technically we are animals but there’s a vast difference between knowing that and calling someone an animal. That was really not very nice.
Fast forward forty years or so and I’m totally on board with the title of the book. I’ve got four kids and a husband. The title of the book is completely accurate.
I rarely take life seriously…
That’s a complete lie. I try not to take life seriously but sometimes (quite often), I do take things very seriously as they happen, but when I look back, then I see the hilarity in life.
I mean sometimes, yes, I totally get the whole inappropriate giggles that used to get my into a lot of trouble as a teenager. When I first began all this personal development work and had my first stint as a group coach, one of the group members really got offended when I laughed about something that had happened to her. I wasn’t being mean, but it was funny. She didn’t think so. She told me that in her opinion (humble or otherwise) I was a sociopath, unable to relate to other people, and furthermore I should psychiatric help if I was ever going to be able to form solid relationships with people. Right. Well, that little “contribution” burst my bubble for a little while but then I reverted back to my old giggly ways.
As I was moseying through Pinterest today, I came across a post titled “30 Day Challenge – Day 3 – A Picture Of My animals”
I assumed that it was a photography challenge (I think I’ve been tagged in a fair few of those and not realised because 1) I don’t read Facebook notifications and 2) I don’t pick up my Messenger messages very often, either), but it wasn’t. It was actually a blog challenge.
Now, as you’re probably aware, I don’t really need a challenge to make me start writing, but I really liked the sound of this one, so I’m going to do it. 30 days, each day a different topic, with the intention of letting the real me out into the world. Or at least, letting the real me loose on those poor unsuspecting… sorry, awesome people who read this blog!
I was sitting in a gorgeously green & lush garden café in Byron Bay with my beautiful bestie who was happily tucking into her second glass of Prosecco (I was on another kind of fizzy – water- as I had 5 more hours of driving to do that day) when she said something that jolted me like a cattle prod. “It is so good to owe nothing to no one. To be able to do whatever you like and not have to worry about any debts or upcoming bills or anything like that.” She sighed happily and ordered another glass of wine, while I buried my face in my water, hoping to all hell that she hadn’t picked up on the “oof” that came out of my mouth when her words hit me in the solar plexus or seen the flash of envy that turned my eyes bright green for a second.
I can hand on heart say that this was a defining moment for me. This was the moment when I said
'Playful' and 'adult' don't generally go in the same sentence and put together, they might even be considered (by most grown-ups) to be an oxymoron. But here I am, learning how to be just that: an oxymoronic playful adult.
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The universe recently presented me with a very interesting moral dilemma. A big one. It’s really, really fascinating to see what went through my head.
And, by the way, my kids are going to be mortified when they read this, but that happens sometimes in life, doesn’t it?
I don’t want to name anyone or point to anyone here, so I’m going to name the child that I was having the conversation with as W (a letter with is not related in any way to any of my children) (and it isn’t X, it’s way cooler).
I heard the ping of a new text from one of the kids; I glanced at the message on my phone, but decided to answer it on my iPad because it’s easier to type. Only I couldn’t follow the conversation on there because it went like this:
Child W: [the message that I’d glanced at on my phone about our recent phone call]… followed by a string of other messages that didn’t make any sense and which I didn’t remember sending:
I’m avoiding things. I’m not procrastinating, of course not. I’m simply avoiding. I’m doing things that are easier, things that I don’t have to think about, things that involve automatic doing, not things that require me to switch my brain on. Actually, it’s less about switching my brain on, because it’s definitely on, as evidenced by the fact that I‘ve hardly slept in a week and I’m waking up at 5.30am with thoughts zinging through my head. My brain is on and the command console is ablaze with lights, it’s just that it’s switched to the wrong mode. I’m in doing mode, also known as Busy mode, Preoccupied mode, Flat-Chat mode, Can’t-Sit-Still-For-A-Minute mode, Running-On-Adrenaline mode and Pusher mode, depending on who’s doing the describing. But, whatever the title of the mode, it’s a mode that doesn’t allow creation. Not creation from scratch, anyway. Things like writing, playing piano, painting, anything arty at all, are all a big no-no when I’m in this mode. And it’s so difficult to switch off.
We put up a video on our YouTube channel – Stop Being So Poor - last week about John’s recent rock climbing experience (you can check out the video here) and I wanted to tell the story in a little more detail. Actually, let me rephrase that: I want to put the story into my words.
Back in the eighties John was a pretty hot shot rock climber who spent every weekend and most evenings of his youth, down at the local quarry, Pex Hill, honing his skills so he could venture out into the rock-filled world of the Lakes District, Snowdonia, South Wales and then further afield into France (in particular Buoux). This is a man who, when we started seeing each other, would do one finger pull-ups on the architrave over the door every time he went through it. Given half an opportunity, he’d “traverse” the lounge using the Victorian dado rail as his finger hold. There was no foot hold. Heaven knows how it didn’t fall off! He climbed with the glitterati of the British rock climbing world of the time: Joe Healey, Gerry Peel, Tony Mitchell and Phil Davidson. John stopped climbing in the 90’s. But I know he misses it and I’d love to see him get back into it. John, however, felt that he was too old now to do something like that.
I’ve always loved horses, so it was only natural when Kira expressed a desire to learn how to ride, that I enrolled the kids into riding lessons.
I have to go onto a bit of a side track here: if one kid did something, then most of the time, they all did it. Extra curricular activities were just too tricky to handle if all four kids were doing something different, so while they all did something they really wanted to do, they also had to do things that maybe they weren’t so interested in. In this case, Kira really wanted to learn how to ride and the boys were interested (and turned out to be great horsemen, just not interested in riding as a long-term prospect). Keeley, aged 2 or 3 at the time, just loved it.
Like anyone who’s been around horses for a while, we’ve had some complete doozies. There were horses who were great but totally unsuitable, there were horses that were great, but they didn’t like their owner. There were horses who were perfect in every single way. Most of the time.
Between you and me, since I was a teenager, I’ve actually been looking forward to getting older. I mean, the whole sagging bits, aching joints and grey hair don’t intrigue me one iota but there are other aspects of ageing that I’m definitely looking forward to. I have to admit that feeling this way could entirely be the result of my innate contrariness...
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I’ve just finished my first “Abs, Butts & Thighs” class. You know you’ve had a good leg workout when you have to hang on to the handrail to get down the stairs. Tomorrow is going to be interesting, to say the least.
I love feeling physically fit and being physically tired, it’s one of the reasons why I’ve exercised my whole life. When I did the interview for the Daily Mail recently, about women who’re the same weight now as they were in their 20’s, the quote about me was that I “take inspiration from Kate Moss”. No, I don’t. What I said was that I relate to what Kate Moss said about nothing tasting as good as skinny feels. I’m at least 15 years older than Kate Moss, how can I possibly used her as my inspiration since she didn’t come onto the scene for years after I was on my path to health & fitness?
I had a surprising conversation with a friend yesterday when she said, “How are you? And I mean, how actually are you, with the whole menopause, hormonal thing? We say ‘how are you?’ but we never really get specific.” And she’s right.
I am now the proud author a monthly womens' column for the wonderful well being magazine, Vivia Maridi.
Click here to read the latest article entitled Certifiably Insane, a tongue-in-cheek look at pregnancy and ultrasounds
I could never quite understand my cousin Julie (I've changed her name. Regardless of the fact that she lives over the other side of the world, I'm still not going to invite her wrath). She is a week younger than me, we look similar - same height, same kind of weight (back then, anyway), same dark curly hair - but we were totally different. I grew up in the countryside, surrounded by animals, playing in the dirt, watching horses & cows giving birth, being chased by donkeys and geese. Julie grew up in inner city Salford (now part of Manchester) among the cars and the noise and the overwhelming number of people. She is also one of seven kids. I loved going down to their house during the school holidays because it was so different to my house. Well, I loved some aspects of it, I didn’t love the fact that they were limited in how much they could eat and drink, for example.
The lengths I go to to keep my husband alive and in one piece (and hence able to earn a decent crust for the family)...
While my husband is unconcernedly swinging on the end of a rope ten metres up in the air, having gracefully ascending a climbing wall, making the whole thing look ridiculously easy, I'm at the bottom of the wall on the other end of said rope, trying, with increasing desperation to lower him just as gracefully to the floor.
I wrestled with the descender with increasing desperation, but to no avail. Try though I might, the bloody thing wouldn't release the rope in any kind of controlled, slow manner and John got more and more alarmed as he jerkily dropped three or four metres, pretty much in free descent, every ten seconds or so. After plummeting the final few metres so quickly that he couldn't get his feet under him, he picked himself up off the floor and, swearing like a pirate, demanded to know what on earth I was playing at.
“I need help!” I said to my brother, “I’ve got these programs sitting there, ready to go and I feel bad because they’re just going to waste. You’re good at selling, and I hate selling, so can you give me a hand?”
I had a kind of vague , wishy-washy, airy-fairy idea that Alan (former radio presenter, master salesman, sports commentator and general all-round gasbag who could talk himself onto a mars-bound spaceship) would maybe do all the talking for me and somehow sell my programs. Honestly, I really had no idea what it would look like at all.
And I certainly didn’t expect what I ended up with: several hours of me and my brother laughing and poking fun at ourselves, each other and the world in general.
As I write that title, I’m beginning to wonder something: our bodies reflect our minds (so the new age, mindset kind of books say), in which case, is what’s going on with my body a reflection of what’s going on with my mind? Am I mentally becoming an intolerant old bag and that’s why my body is becoming intolerant and baggy? The body is a reflection of the mind? It’s an interesting and not very appealing thought.
I’ve been a bit quiet for the last few weeks, at least as far as blogging goes, and that’s because I’ve had to spend my time learning how to cook! At my age! Like I haven’t been cooking for forty-odd years! It’s been a bizarre and overwhelming experience. I’m used to just being able to open the cupboard & fridge and make some kind of dish out of it. I rarely do a shopping list anymore, I don’t need to. But now? Now, I have no clue what I can or can’t cook, how to cook it or anything.
Weekend? What weekend? Oh, you mean the last two days? The ones that normal people, with normal Monday to Friday jobs spend doing things like the weekly shopping, mowing the lawn, washing the car and getting drunk? THAT weekend? Oh, I spent those days doing stuff for the accountant, you know, updating spreadsheets, downloading data from the bank, checking and cross-checking everything, filling in gaps, making sure everything balances and adds up, that kind of thing. And I really don’t enjoy doing it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of the things in life that I truly loathe doing. I get a small satisfaction from seeing everything add up and reflect what’s on the bank statement, but that’s just the OCD side of me getting a hit of Dopamine and going on a restrained little gambol of joy around the living room. I spent my weekend doing the accounts so that I could have this week free and clear, happy in the knowledge that all of the detested bookkeeping work is completed for another year. Now THAT is cause for celebration. I felt so good when I finally not only sent off last year’s info to the accountant but I also updated the current year’s info to match how he’d suggested I do it. I am on top of my game! Watch me and turn green with envy. I am where everyone wants to be, I have it handled, it’s all done, sorted, completed and put away. I am Organised, the Queen of the Annual Accounts. I went to bed last night feeling incredibly smug and proud of my achievement.
I’m in this bizarre space where I’m flitting between pride, excitement, severe worry and sleepless nights. And we’re nowhere close to the time of The Event.
Last November, Keeley asked if she could go on exchange with school this year. “Sure!” says I, keen for her to spread her wings and experience the world in all its diverse glory, “Where do you want to go?”
“Somewhere warm,” says Keeley, who’s a cold-blooded creature like myself, “So I’m thinking maybe Fiji or… what about Colombia?”
Okay, Colombia is a bit left field, I didn’t expect that. Fiji I can understand, it’s close to Australia, she’s been there before and she likes it. England I’d expect, France definitely, possibly Canada, but Colombia? That's an interesting choice. Why Colombia?
Ryan sent me a video to watch the other day by a guy called Simon Sinek, who’s talking about how Millennials are struggling with forming relationships, having rewarding careers and life in general. I shared the video (and I’ve put the link at the bottom of this post or you can click on the picture on the left) with the intention of putting up this post to go with it. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked. Several days later, I’m picking up where I left off. Well, kind of. I also had several conversations about the video with Ryan and my Uncle and I thought it would be an interesting exercise to get their views on the video, too: three generations of commentary.
At the start of the video, I was intrigued; Simon makes several great points. But I don’t agree with his ultimate point at all, because he’s saying that Millennials are the way they are and it’s not their fault, poor them; they’re victims of poor parenting and the narcissism of today’s technological lifestyle.
Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...
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