Being a Step-parent is no fairy-tale.

This post has been in my drafts for months pending legal settlements. I am now free to share my story and although a little off topic from my usual career focused information, I feel is important to share. Please note that for privacy reasons, names have been omitted.

We met on a blind date at the Italian Forum in Leichardt, Sydney. A water feature created some ambient noise as we dined at a small restaurant known to his family. He did all the talking which was fine with me.  Towards the end of the evening the words “I have a daughter” hung in the air before I responded with “Really? How old?” and the rest is history.

Yeah right!

For me, adjusting to the label “step-mother” did take some serious work. In fact I fought the label till the last day insisting I just be referred to by name.

Images from classic fairy-tales like ‘Cinderella’ flashed through my mind. Fear of warts suddenly appearing on my face along with a hunch and cruel sneer haunted me. The reality was less dramatic of course but I still smile when I think back to all the stereotypes I worked through as his five year old daughter entered my life.

The challenge was of course not entirely my own. The child had some serious adjusting of her own to contend with and at such a young age, her challenges were far more open for the world to see.

I was told I was her father’s first serious relationships since the child’s mother and as a result I received the full brunt of the child’s insecurities.

I was faced with frequent interruptions during moments of intimacy with her father. Sitting next to her father on the couch would prompt her to dive between us, nestling into his chest while simultaneously smirking my way. I come from divorced parents myself so this allowed me probably more patience than most but to say it was easy would be untrue.

This was during the early days and things soon moved into more of a harmonious rhythm.  I began to develop a mountain more understanding around the challenges of being a parent. I had no children of my own and to land a 5-year-old instantly was unexpected to say the least, and exhausting. However I was determined to persist. I had always been told I had a kind heart and compassionate nature plus I held a volume of sympathy for this little blonde firecracker. She had not had her father in her life as much as I had at the same age and this was evident in her need for constant attention and validation. She was resilient but she had been given a hard lot in life.

During 2008 the child witnessed both her biological parents marry – confirmation that her parents would not be getting back together – ever. Comments such as “Why don’t you go back to living with mummy?” often came up in her conversations until that point then it suddenly stopped.  Neither of my parents has remarried but I suspect at such a young age her parent’s weddings left their mark on the child.

Unfortunately my marriage to her father did not last. Four and a half years we were together, two and half of which we were married.

During the few years our relationship endured we included the child in all family events for my side of the family which usually involved my siblings and my parents. The child instantly inherited a new family and seemed to enjoy the attention of being the only grandchild. My father in particular, a master at shunning labels, announced from the outset that there was no such thing as “step-children” in his home, only children.  To him, that was that. She was family.

Christmas soon became focused around my step-daughter. We all looked forward to our portion of her heavily scheduled Christmas day to watch her unwrap each gift and exclaim “Just what I always wanted!” before pushing it aside and moving onto the next gift. The child wanted for nothing. Existing between four sets of extended families now that both parents were married, her Christmas wish lists were always fulfilled.

Her life was carefully scheduled by an attentive mother to insure all grandparents, parents and relatives received equal time with the blonde beauty. We fell at the end of the priority list however we accepted our status and enjoyed the time regardless.

As the ashes of my marriage scattered to the wind the child remained forefront in my mind. Her father, not one for maturity, utilised threats to push me from her life. While telling me we would have an opportunity to re-define my relationship with his child at a later date, he had gone and told the child she would never see me again. Upon hearing this sometime later my heart broke into a 1000 angry pieces. The blonde princess, who curled into my chest and came to love me and was apparently asking to see me, had been told I would remain a memory of her past and that would never change. We had not even been given an opportunity to say our goodbyes – not that a goodbye would have been easy.

Legally step-parents have minimal rights in this situation. Although a step-parent does have the option of perusing visitation it is a lengthy and costly process through the courts. I did consider the option – considered it very seriously. However I was fuelled by anger and resentment rather than the best of intentions for the child. Once I had taken time to consider my actions fully I realised walking away is the best option for the child – burying her father in expensive legal paperwork does not benefit her much in the long run. The child’s father prides himself on being seen as the ‘victor’ in most situations so the choice to stay compliant was a hard one to make. I still have moments where I hover over the words “proceed” in response to my lawyers request to commence legalities. I am only human after all plus what I perceive to be injustice and manipulation of a child are two things I really struggle to stand by and watch unfolding.

But sometimes you have to stop thinking about yourself and think of others. Maybe I will change my mind, but for now I am doing my best to hold my head high.

Being a step-parent, and now ex-step-parent, was by far the most challenging and rewarding thing I have done in my life. As a step-parent you always fall second to the biological parent which does take some serious getting used too. After the initial transition period I found my niche by behaving more like the fun-Aunt. The child did not need any more authority figures so I moved into the “let’s have some fun” space. This saw the child transition from seeing me as competition for her father’s attention, to the person who she would happily play hairdresser and dress-ups with for hours. I enjoyed watching her practice new dance moves while dressed in her latest pink tutu more than I ever thought I would. Assisting her with the choice of clothes for the day and braiding her long blonde hair were highlights for me during those few years and each time I reflect back on those moments my heart clenches.

I am told being a parent is the most rewarding thing a person can do during their lifetime. The glimpse I had of it while being a step parent certainly confirmed this statement.

Of course just like parents, not all step-parents are equal, but most have the best of intentions. I share my story to shed some light on the role of a step-parent in the hope the future will hold more sensitivity to the position and its challenges.

The step-parenting role is challenging from all sides. Blended families are becoming more and more frequent in society as marriages and relationships fail. Sad facts I for one have lived through.

If you happen to be new to the role of step-parent I offer you the most important piece of advice once given to me – be patient!

Yes you will always fall second or third to the child’s parents (as we should) but that does not mean you are less of a person. Find your niche, carve your own path and remember to enjoy the small moments for as I discovered, they may not be around tomorrow.

Rory Gilmore Reading list

Inspired by

I have been a bit of a ‘classic book’ fan ever since my teens years. I remember finding “For whom the bell tolls” when I was a teenager and loving it! Surprise considering the language is old English. I do find myself often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of classic novels available and unsure as to how to navigate their vastness. I came across and idea on twitter which is a reading list based on the show “Gilmore Girls” – every book below has feature in an episode. Considering the volume of books in the list, that is impressive!

Some I have already read – and I started the 1000+ pages of “Little Dorrit” on the weekend which will probably take me a few weeks to get through. If anyone would like to join my quest to read all the books on this list, leave your details in the comments below.

I will also continue adding my little book reviews as per usual for anyone who is keen on some insider information.

Gilmore Girls Reading list

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – read – July 2010
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
–> Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – read
–> Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – read
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
–> The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – read
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire – read – June 2010
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – read
–> Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White – read
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – read – December 2009
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber – started and not finished
— > The Crucible by Arthur Miller – Read
Cujo by Stephen King
— > The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – read
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown – read
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
— > Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller – read
Deenie by Judy Blume
— > The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson – read
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – read – 2009
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
— > Emma by Jane Austen – read
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – started and not finished
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
— > The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR) – read
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
— > The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – read
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (TBR)
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (TBR)
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inferno by Dante
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – started and not finished
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
— > Life of Pi by Yann Martel – read
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens – reading now!
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Love Story by Erich Segal
— > Macbeth by William Shakespeare – read
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
— > Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
— > My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – read
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby – read
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – read
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers – read
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
–> The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – read
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
— > The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR)
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
— >Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
— >A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – read
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
— > The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – started and not finished
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Hotels of Europe
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – read
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy – on my book pile
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers – read
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
— > Sophie’s Choice by William Styron – read
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
— > The Story of My Life by Helen Keller – read
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – read
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – read
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
— > Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – read
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe – started and not finished
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray – read
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
–> Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson – read
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
— > Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – read
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Something #4

Something I read…

“The Man Diet” by Zoe Strimpel.

I had 8 hours to kill at the airport so I picked up this book from the newsagents, settled in with a good coffee and begun an insightful read. Initially I thought this book would be quiet humorous, but instead I cringed as I discovered each of the horrible little things I had done in and out of my previous relationships. I was horrified…. so horrified that I became more motivated to keep my commitment to single-dom. For anyone that happens to be like me, a serial dater, or is struggling with being dubbed “single” (as opposed to “couple”) – this book will certainly offer you some support.

Something achieved…

My sisters combined Birthday and Hens weekend away – which I volunteered to organise and was a great success!  See my post on how to organise a great hens party!

Sonya Madden (left), Louisa Forrest & Belinda – on Louisa’s Birthday and Hens Weekend


Something fun…

I have followed Jenna Marbles on Youtube for ages and find her hilarious. This is her latest post but check out some of her older videos.

Something watched…

Okay I admit my expectation for “Drive” was fairly low. I was only interested in seeing it because Ryan Gosling was the lead (I’m only human) but I have to be honest and say I REALLY LIKED this movie. It was so far from what I was expecting. I assumed it was some kind of “Fast and the Furious” clone but it was nothing like F&F and had a much more compelling story line. It is an intense film so be prepared to remain on the couch for the full duration – oh, and it is violent.

Onto a completed different film genre is “Our Idiot Brother” which is a nice (what I call) ‘fluff’ film. It has you giggling in some places and is entertaining enough to fill in the time. Nice little light hearted movie with no violence and from memory not much swearing. I did enjoy watching the dynamic between the lead character and his three sisters change throughout the film. Has a lovely happy ending too. Happy sigh.

Sunshine Award!

Exciting news – Emerging Dark Horse has been nominated for a sunshine award!

The uber-awesome fellow biker chick Clare Lopez from “I’ve been there Clare” has very kindly selected me to participate in the Sunshine awards. I first came across Clare’s site while trawling for inspiring blog/website designs – Clare’s is fantastic! Granted I may be a little biased due to the motorcycle theme (and cause bike-chicks are in a word AWESOME!), but Clare’s writting always stirs me emotionally. Whether I am laughing or crying – I love it.

As a sunshine award nominee, it is now my responsibility to;

  1. Thank the person who gave me the award.
  2. Answer questions about myself
  3. Nominate 10 bloggers for the award and let them know they’ve received it.
Favorite color: Red!
Favorite number: 5
Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Green Smoothie… ooh ooh… and a rosewater Lassie.
Facebook or Twitter: Twitter
My passions: My VESPA… my dog… writing and reading.
Getting or giving presents: Giving 😀
Favorite pattern: Ummm… I like the look of vintage wallpaper 🙂
Favorite day of the week: Friday!
Favorite flower: Any flower – I love them all 🙂

My Sunshiney nominees:

1. My sisters blog, Louisa – The Eco Mum – is awesome! I am not a mother (she is, lol!) however I love reading her helpful tips for home remedies, green cleaning products, health care, organic produce. Love it, love her – super great site.

2. One of my closest and dearest friends probably needs little introduction – Leonie Dawson. The brains behind the “Goddess School” which includes a monster selection of eCourses and materials – Leonie is helping women discover their authentic selves and to enjoy the journey. I had the privilege of contributing to 2 of Leonie’s courses which was pretty exciting.

3. I came across Michelle’s blog Chamomile Punk a few months ago when we both participated in a vegan 30 day challenge (see number 8). I loved her writting, her website and her whole approach. Have been following her amazing work ever since.

4.  Courtney’s blog Be More with Less is fabulous! I had the honour of working with Courtney during the Good Blog Project and loved it! If you are after some great tips on simplifying your life, or even how to grow and develop your blog – Courtney’s blog is where it is at 🙂

5. Rachelle’s blog Magpie Girl is beautiful, I LOVE her design. Rachelle’s focus is on caring for creative souls which I adore. She has some beautiful and inspiring blog posts but I warn you… once you hit her site, you’ll be there for hours. Well I was 🙂

6. I came across Jamie Ridler Studio‘s blog and loved it instantly. I love the material she covers in her blog along with the overall look and feel. Inspiration tips, dream boards, she even recently ran a great little competition prompted by the World Domonation Summit. I have touched base with Jamie also on twitter and discovered a mutual love for morning pages 🙂

7. A life of Blue is an example of someone living my fantasy life. I love my job, my dog, my home – but if I didn’t, I would become a nomad just like Conni. And to start at such a young age – wow!

8.  Beauty that moves – is the best title for this blog. Her posts are full of beauty. I find myself staring into her sublime photographs probably all too frequently. I enjoyed watching the journey of her families relocation and the new puppy pics are adorable. I also participated in the “30 Day Vegan” course and found the materials were fantastic. Would highly recommend.

9. Open Road Writing – came into my life while I participated in The Good Blog Project with “Be More with Less” (see number 4). Beverly is a fantastic writer and was very supportive as I dipped my toes into online writing.  Currently sharing her road trip adventures with the world – check our her amazing work.

10. Low Impact Betty – this blog is AMAZING! I love the look, love the work, love the author. Monica’s writing is about living life to the full while minimising the impact on your wallet and the world. She is a fantastic writer and also great to follow on twitter as she shares regular little tips on low impact living. Check out her stuff – the girl has edge 😉

Before you go, don’t forget to check out my nominator as well as all of my sunshine award nominees. Support each other and have a sunshiney day!
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The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks has introduced me to the concept of an “ULP!”

This term is an abbreviation for “Upper Limit Problem” which is discussed in detail though out Gay’s book. Gay also includes examples and case studies showing  how “ULP” can affect and ultimately restrict our lives.

I have really enjoyed reading this book. Often self-help/personal development books I find really interesting initially, then repetitive as they go over and over the same theories or insights. The last half of the book is often an up hill battle.

Although “ULP!” (BTW – I added the exclamation mark as I feel the term deserves emphasis) is discussed throughout the book, it is discussed in regards to the different key areas of our lives which I have found very insightful and refreshing.

For example, what has resonated with me is how I suffer the “ULP” in personal fitness. I have discovered a mental limitation that means I work out super hard, eat well and come so close to my ultimate goal and then self sabotage by breaking the routine and/or indulging in too much junk food. Classic “ULP!”

It has been rather fascinating to recognise that this is nothing more then my own limiting belief system and that it can be changed. This realisation is liberating – especially when the alarm goes off at 5.30am for my morning boot camp and I am tempted to ‘accidentally’ (on purpose) oversleep. I spot the “ULP” in action, and slide out of bed.

Although I suffer less “ULP” on the work front, I can see instances of where I am not working to my full potential. Spending those extra few  minutes checking personal emails, or Facebook updates on my phone – this is time wasted that could be better spent furthering my career or my career progress.

This book is NOT about becoming a ‘anything-a-holic’ but about how to identify that often the cause of our frustration, or perceived failure, is ourselves and our own belief systems around what we deserve and can achieve.

Simple and amazing!

If you have read this book I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether, like me, you turned each page and discovered a new “wow!” moment.

If you are yet to enjoy this book – it is available on Amazon and most book stores. Enjoy!

Living ‘Life on a Little’

One of my blog-buddies Monica is launching a fantastic opportunity I wanted to share with you!

‘Low Impact Betty’ or Monica as I know her, is a genius in the art of living Life on a Little. And c’mon, who doesn’t need help in living on a little!
Financial abundance does not always have to entail earning more – sometimes it is more about managing what you have better.

The program runs from Monday July 16 – Monday July 23.
Follow hashtag:#lifeonalittle to Live life to the fullest on a not so full wallet, bank account or mattress. You can discover and share tips, videos, recipes and blogs on how to live on a little income but still increase your happiness and health. Feel free to tweet your own tips with the hashtag and she’ll retweet them.
Below is the outline of the content:
Day 1: Money Management
Day 2: Food
Day 3: Going out and Shopping
Day 4: Transportation
Day 5: Personal Care & Cleaning Products
Day 6: Travel
Day 7: Sharing
So c’mon and join me on this great sharing opportunity!

Life: Ctrl+Alt+Delete

Sometimes we need to stop and assess where we are spending all our energy and make sure that our time is spent moving towards our goals. I like to think of this as a “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” on life. An opportunity to step back. Look at all the things happening in our lives and decide which ones we can shut-down and which ones need a little adjustment.

I am week two into my own personal life “Ctrl+Alt+Delete.

Sparked by a transition back into singledom, I was excited about the opportunity to just focus on me for awhile. I took a step back and had a look at all the things I do each day and assessed whether it could stay, or if I could let it go and add something new.

I have been doing yoga once a week for about 3 months now. I love it. It is very quietening for the mind AND this is the first time I have kept at Yoga for longer then a few weeks. Yoga was to stay.

I am a Taurus and by nature I believe exercise/workouts need to be hard and gruelling so the movement aspect of my life needed some fine tuning as this need was not being met.

I do Pilates once a week in addition to yoga. A little more in alignment with my need for hard exericse. I at least raise the heart beat and sweet a little but was still not physically satisfied.

I wanted to get back in touch with what my body could do physically – to know what I was capable of and what my limits were, if any. I opted to go back to my tried and true method of bootcamp.

I have done bootcamp with 5 different companies in the past (if you want to know who, leave comments below). Each of them slightly different but all challenging in their own way. So more challenging then others, one of which was ridiculous and cost me 3 days off work with a back injury.

Bootcamp is a great way to blast into fitness at a rapid pace. Rep’s are high. Sessions are intense. Pain level on recovery is pretty hefty but results start to occur after only a couple of weeks.

The first week is the hardest and I am in that period now. At 6am this morning I was at my second session. The entire group felt equally sore after Monday’s gruelling leg workout. We meet again tomorrow morning. Mixed feelings about that at the moment.

I would highly recommend bootcamp to anyone looking for a serious reboot on their fitness levels. I do suggest a moderate level of fitness before you commence as the level is pretty advanced – the rewards after the first 4 weeks are well worth it. And as I try to remind myself,  “Pain is only temporary.”

To accommodate more workouts in my life I get up a little earlier each day. I was already a morning person but I now hear the alarm at 5.30am as opposed to 6am.

I have eliminated staring at the television for hours in the evening using this time for my next new task – which was to create a new vision board.

I had not created a vision board in many years and felt now was a good time to create an inspiring collage for my wall.  The thought was it would help me get out of bed on cold miserable mornings for training. I wanted to visual my end goal.

Vision boards, if you have not come across the term before, are essentially a big collage of images and words (usually taken from magazines) to help visualise your goals and how you would like your life to be. My board included images of travel,  toned and fit females, key words and inspiring phrases.

My vision board didn’t require any expensive materials. I used some wrapping paper for the base by simply flipping it over so it was white side up.  I already had scissors and glue. Took about 2 hours and was a lovely way to unwind from work.

My mental reboot is my commitment to continue with yoga but to also read more and stop wasting my time in front of the box (tv). There is nothing much on anyway. Currently I am reading “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks which is very suitable for my current point in life. Gay talks about how we often reach our upper limit thresholds and self sabotage.

Last week I undertook a food allergy test as I felt my body was not too happy with my food intake.

I already eliminated Cow’s Milk and most Wheat products from my diet. I do not eat fast food (KFC, MacDonalds, etc) and had started a personal “Dry July” challenge – no alcohol.

A food intolerance test is so fascinating to me. My results showed Cows Milk was a no-no, so was Rye and surprisingly Rice. I also had a mild intolerance to Strawberries, Apples, Oranges and Lemons. These are only intolerances (as opposed to allergies) so I can continue to eat them, however it is recommended to keep them to a minimum where possible or remove entirely.

I have also spent time refocusing on what my passions are and how I would like to invest my time long term.

I have a great project in development which I will launch into the world very soon. It aligns all of my beliefs and interests beautifully and I cannot wait till it is up and running. For now, patience is the key… in which yoga helps.

I was also accepted into MGSM for their MBA program which is very exciting. This particular graduate school is ranked #1 in NSW and #3 in Australia. I did lots of ground work before finalising my decision, then did lots of paperwork to apply. I was very happy to be accepted and start in September.

So those are the areas that my personal “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” identified as needing some work.

What areas in your life do you think could use a restart or shut-down?