Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday 26th June

Oh look.  It has been over a month since last I posted.  

What happens in life when something you did on a regular basis just stops?  Do you lose interest? Does something better come along?  

I like writing.  I write inside my head but these days it appears that is where it stays.  A pile of words and paragraphs all banked up waiting for me to put them on paper.  By the time I get around to it weeks and weeks have passed and when I look back all I can see is mundane days behind me.  

Why would I want to write about that?

But things happen in life and it's good to make a record now and then.  

Today I went to the gallery and saw an exhibition full of Edgar Degas's work.  It was a most wonderful two hours that I spent looking at all the paintings, pastels, drawings and sculptures.  I always get the audio guide when I go to exhibitions as it is the best way to get in depth knowledge about the artist and the work they do.   It's not enough to look at the work,  it enhances the experience to understand what preceded it.  

So I spent a few hours going through the gallery and came home feeling very relaxed. 

Below is one of the paintings that was on show.  It had a very dark and unsettling feel about it however the composition was beautiful.

The Interior (Rape Scene) - Edgar Degas
I think I do not write as much because life has reached this different stage.  My son is nineteen next Friday and about to start University.  His needs have changed and so that changes my role in his life. I am over fifty and I view the rest of my life differently.  I now know how fast time goes because it feels like fifty years just rocked up.

Now I think about what I really want to do for the rest of my life.  I have no fucking idea.  I think about travel and I go "meh".  I think about work and I go "meh".  I worry that I will never work out what I want to do and suddenly I will be 85 and then die.

I wonder if it is because I have achieved the goals I set myself many, many years ago and never thought beyond that.

Mother with her Man Babies

Perhaps I should really focus more on my art work.  I have lots of ideas inside. Sometimes I sit with pencil and paper and do nothing. I stare.  Look at my phone.  Watch television.  Go on my lap top. Get up and do something.  Anything but draw.  I think part of that is because a drawing requires a lot of time and my brain has to engage totally.  I don't always have hours to draw.  So I end up doing nothing. Am I deliberately doing that.  Am I just allowing myself to fall into a state of inertia on purpose?  Am I sub consciously sabotaging my desire to do things for myself, such as drawing?

In all fairness, I think part of the problem has been the whole bipolar thing.  Getting the medication right. Coming to terms with it.  Plus I cannot forget to add the difficult change of life shit that happens to women.  That has been a challenge.

Right now I am titrating with Lamictal.  So far, so good. The stage between getting off Epilim and getting onto Lamictal was hard work.  I feel better now the dose is increasing.  In about six weeks I should be up to a therapeutic level and hopefully be able to get on with life without the mood swings. I am always a positive person.  Even when I am not feeling my best I always figure it will be okay.

Maybe I need a to make a bucket list.  I hate that overused expression.  A better one is a "life list". Lists are good. They are logical.  You can just make bullet points and tick them off.  Start of with doable things and then build on that.

  • Do more drawings (that is an ongoing thing)
  • Keep doing CrossFit (another ongoing thing)
  • Paint front part of house (ho hum)
  • Renovate old bathroom (that is a major job planned later this year)
  • Landscape front yard (actually that is now done)
  • Plan another lone holiday for next year
  • Work less (that is on the cards for next year - a four day week)
  • Teach myself to get up earlier (is that a life list kind of thing anyway?)
  • Take my dog for a walk more
  • Be more organised 
  • Read more books
  • Look at my phone less (oh no)
  • Stop reading the Daily Mail as it is full of shit and is is my dirty little secret that I do read it
  • Don't always dump my handbag and everything else on the kitchen table
  • Keep my bathroom tidy and stop using it as a second wardrobe
  • Don't buy random shit online late at night
  • Brush my dog more often
  • Go to bed earlier (this is so I can get up earlier)
  • Ration chocolate
  • Ration bread (the staff of life apart from Vegemite)
  • Stop buying healthy and weird shit only to put it in the pantry and not eat it because it is disgusting (as well as fucking expensive)
  • Teach my son to cook 
  • Teach my son to clean
  • Teach my son to iron a shirt
  • Make a cake or biscuits every week 
  • Learn to be okay with my body.  It is strong and fit and that is great.  (I deadlift 85KG so that is pretty impressive)
  • Remind myself it is okay to get older and does not mean that I will get Alzheimers. 
  • Don't be depressed about the state of the world.  I cannot change it.  I can only live my life and look after those close to me.
  • Take out the clothes that have been in the boot of my car for months and then put them in the charity bin
  • Answer my emails at work, even the shitty ones. I get around 60 each day.  I am overwhelmed by them.  
  • Tell the barista at my favourite coffee shop that the person he hired to make coffee whilst he went on holiday does a better job at making coffee (oh, that is too hard.  I think I will leave that one)
  • Eat more vegetables (yawn)
  • Ask myself if this is really a "life list" and not, in fact, a "to do list".  I think we know that answer to that.  Still, is has reminded me of all the things I need to do which means I am going to be busy. 
Right now though, I need to go to bed. Especially if I want to get up early.  It is the end of the financial year this week and I am going to be extremely busy.  Two people in the office are on leave this week and Bossman has to come in and answer the phone all day because I cannot while I do payroll.  He will love that. 

Oh there were a few random things to prattle on about.  We live just one street from the railway line. They have been doing major work on it.  It is a huge two year project and very disruptive.  The stations have been pulled down and for the next month or more the trains will not run through three or four stations which means buses are going to be used.  Work goes on through the night and during this particular stage we have trucks going back and forth non stop. Not small trucks.  Great big ones. Plus there is drilling.  Noises all through the night.  Rumbling of trucks.  The sound of machinery at work.  The trucks go down a road that is at the end of our street. About three houses from ours.  The dust was thick on the surface of my car this morning.  

It is quite exciting in a way.  I cannot wait to see the finished product.  The traffic flow will be greatly improved.  It gets so congested when the train comes across the road and the boom gates come down. At times you might get four passenger trains coming as well as a goods train that might have thirty carriages on it.  When that happens I cannot turn out of my street into the road for ages.  

So, that is my life.  Loosely based on other peoples lives.  We get up and live the best way we can. Life does not have to be exciting for me.  It just needs to be peaceful and that it is.  I am grateful for that.  Plenty of people live difficult lives through no fault of their own.  Sometimes just being born in the wrong place means a persons life will be hard.  It seems unfair in a way.  Maybe one day the world will be less brutal.  

My post has meandered and now come to an end.

If you are still reading I think you deserve and A+.

Well done. 

linda x
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Saturday, May 21, 2016

May 21st 2016

So it has been over a month since I last did a post.  But that is okay because I've been busy just living life and things have been pretty good. 

The usual stuff has been happening.  Weekly psych visits.  Work.  Walk dog, although not so much because I get home late most weekdays and then the weekends are just full of getting ready for the week ahead.  My art work is still sitting on the back burner just waiting for some attention and that is probably the one thing I feel a bit annoyed about. 

I am trying to think of what has been happening and in what order but I will just say it as it happens.  

Firstly I am going off my mood stablisers.  I would like to say it is because I am no longer bipolar and all is well.  However, it is not so simple.  I had a bone density test not long ago and it came back surprisingly bad.  Even the doctor was surprised considering my outstanding blood tests and fit lifestyle.  Then he looked up my history and saw that I took Epilim which has a history of reducing bone density.   The upside is that the bone density loss can be reversed if I go off the drug, stick to my CrossFit and use and get more hormones back into my body.  Oh, and no running allowed due to the risk of fracture - can't say I am sorry about that one!

When I then saw the psych and asked if he knew that he said no.  I then said "well you do now" and we then talked about getting off the Epilim and going onto another drug called Lamictal.  I had actually planned to go off the Epilim onto another drug called Tegratol due to the creeping weight gain that goes hand in hand with Epilim.  However, Tegratol has the same bone density issue so that was out.  

Part of me thought the psych should have known and warned me but then I figured that he knows now and I just wanted to move forward.  Also, I may well have had bone density issues prior as people can just be that way. 

I have reduced my meds by more than half and I kid you not, I feel completely normal.  It's a bit unsettling because I never really trust that feeling as it is never long lasting.  But I am cruisy. Not overly reactive to work stress.   Sleep well.  My coping skills are normal.  On the rare day I wake up anxious I take something but that is a very rare thing.  

It's almost too good to be true.  A lot of this is due to my extensive therapy in my mind.  

But, there is one down side.  I have nerve pain on one side of my face and the Epilim helped that.  If I do get a bit stressed or over tired it flares up and feels like someone has punched the right hand side of my face and the shooting pains are very, very uncomfortable.  Lamictal will help that. 

There is one concern about going onto Lamictal.  It has to be introduced slowly as it may cause a skin disorder called Stevens Johnson Syndrome which is very, very disturbing.  Fortunately it is rare so I figure it is worth the risk. Although I would be very fucked off if I drew the short straw on this one. 

I have thought of taking nothing but can't make that call until I am off the meds completely.  I can put up with the nerve pain I guess but I really do not want to have a relapse and be back to micro managing my bipolar.  It is just too hard. 

Anyway, onto other stuff.

I went shopping on Ebay a couple of weeks ago and bought a tall boy chest of drawers.  It is about 100 years old at least.  For years I have wanted one but the price was insanely prohibitive so i just waited and waited until one I liked and could afford would appear.  And it did.  Needless to say we had to drive miles away to pick it up but it was worth it.  So I took a photo of my bedroom and you can see it on the right.

I love my bedroom.  It is a place of peace.  When I first moved out of home I made sure I bought a lovely vintage bed.  My bed linen was nice.  It's always been important to me to have a bedroom that is a pleasure to sleep in.  I spend a lot of time in bed so I want to be happy in that space.

I had a lot of things to write up tonight but they have slipped my mind.  So I will talk about something that is with me pretty much everyday.

CrossFit.  Yes, I have become one of those people who loves CrossFit.  My son calls it a cult but I don't care.  It's been a great exercise regime for me and I will continue to do it as long as I enjoy it.  I now go four times a week.  It means that Monday to Friday sees me not home until 7.30 pm which is okay as I don't start work until later in the morning.

It does mean that I have to be very organised on the weekend to make sure things run smoothly for me during the week.  Food has to be planned.  Laundry organised.  By Sunday night everything is in place to make sure that I don't have to think too much about what I will wear or what I will eat.  The food for K and S is there for them to cook as I don't eat when they do.  It's working out very well and without too great an effort.  I realised it actually only takes a few hours if I break it up into little blocks.

Work has been okay.  The stress issue finally sorted itself out in my head after months of talking about it to the psych.  He gave me strategies which I just used over and over consciously and then one day I just changed.  I also told work that from next year onwards I would work four days a week. That was a difficult decision but the right one and once I decided to make the change it felt okay.

My son is still enjoying the life of "almost student".  He built himself a new computer and felt very pleased with himself.  So he plays on the computer.  Sleeps in until late.  He has applied for lots of jobs online but not much is around.  However he has joined the gym which is at the end of our street and goes nearly every second night with K.  Such a cruisy kind of young man.  I'm happy that he is happy.  Life in the big world will come soon enough.

My Mr Benny is adorable.  When I first got him as a puppy I had no idea how much of a buddy he would be to me.  At night he sleeps inside.  We cover the couch all over with a thick blanket and he sleeps on it.  Once I go to bed though he comes into the hallway and sleeps there for a few hours and then comes into the bedroom and sleeps right beside my side of the bed all curled up.  He won't leave the bedroom until I wake up and let him outside.  Even if K is up and about.

So, not much else.  Not that I can recall right now and it is very late (11.35) so maybe I should go to bed.

I can't sleep in tomorrow because someone is coming at 9.00am.

How annoying.


PS the weather has been great.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Jims Fantasy

Every Wednesday late afternoon I go into the city for my weekly psychiatrist visit.  I have to leave work at around 4.15pm to make sure that if the traffic is heavier than usual I won't panic.  As a rule it isn't busy and I will arrive around 25 minutes early.  I'll sit in the car or, if the weather is nice, go for a walk across the road in the gardens.

Last Wednesday I had more time than usual and went across to the Shrine of Remembrance and took some photos.

With Anzac day ahead I felt quite reflective as I stood on the steps and looked down towards the city.
When I was young I would make my way into the city for the Anzac dawn service.  It was one of the few events that would get me out of bed early.  Hardly any other people went.  Returned soldiers, families of those who had gone and people like me.  I had no family who had been part of any war let alone WW1 but there was something very moving about being part of this solidarity.  Did one have to have a relative to think about the the sad deaths of young men and women in a war?  I thought not.

One year I went and could not find a place to park my car.  The dawn service had become a huge event with thousands attending.  I never went again.  I'm not quite sure why I didn't go.  Too many people maybe.  I felt like the reasons I went were shared by too many now.

Sometimes I feel like that about the art gallery.  When young I would go into the city on the weekend and the streets were empty.  The gallery too was almost devoid of people and I would walk around in peace to look at everything.  No crowds.  No loud noises.  It belonged to me.  In the past ten or more years it has changed completely.  It's a business and therefore has to make money.  I get that even if I don't like it much.

When I went up to the Shrine on Wednesday the weather was beautiful.  One of those warm Autumn days that make me want to go for a long walk along a silent path with just the blue sky above me, a thin sweep of clouds here and there.  I felt really emotional in a good way.  Thoughtful. Peaceful.  I relish those moments because I don't get them often.

I can't say I was happy or sad.  I just was in the moment.

Then time ran out and I had to make my way across the busy road and to the psychiatrist.

Sometimes I wonder how long I will be seeing the psych.  The other week he was away and I had an internal meltdown in my head and this was followed by a dream where I said to him "I'm not coming here anymore because I can't be bothered" and was, in general, kind of rude to him.  No doubt the dream came about because I was shitty at him going away for the week.  As if he has no right or something.

It's taken a long, long time but he and I have a fairly good relationship and I do get a lot out of most sessions.  He can pick where my mood is at the second I walk in the room even when I try to hide it.

Each week we discuss my weight issue.  It's hard to work out if the weight is related mostly to my CrossFit or to the Epilim.  I think the Epilim has a lot to answer for and there is the option of changing meds but it makes me sick to the stomach knowing that I have to go off one to transition to the other and I will have months of feeling very unstable and fucking around with other stuff to bridge the gap.

I am not sure if I have it in me anymore to live with the level of destabilisation.

If you looked at me you would not say "wow, she's put on weight".  You would probably say that I look like I'm working out a lot.  But it's the number on the scales that still does my head in.  Every time I speak to the psych about the weight he says that we should speak about it.  Maybe he is right. Even when I was 50kg I still felt overweight so there's a problem deep down.

It's always a work in progress.

Once I leave the psych's I head home.  By this stage the traffic is pretty much bumper to bumper.  It's the one time I really regret that I drive a manual because I am changing gears non stop.   This is the third Autumn that I have been seeing the psych and I feel that familiar sense of time slipping past as another season enters.  Now my visits to the psychiatrist are part of that seasonal wallpaper of life.   I will always remember these visits each time I do this trip irrespective of whether or not I have seen him.

In Summer the drives to and from the city are usually hot enough that I have to have the air conditioning on in the car.  But in Autumn the heat changes and I will have the driver window open to feel the breeze come in.  I pick the music I will listen to while I drive.  It's almost part of the therapy, this driving in, open window, music playing and anticipating the traffic flow.

Once daylight savings ends the drive home is dark and all I see ahead of me are a see of red tail lights of cars heading in the same direction.  The cars brake and the lights brighten then they head off and the lights go back to normal.  This is a constant until I get to my turn off which will take me closer to home.

I turn right at a main intersection but have to wait for the green arrow to give the go ahead.  (this would be equivalent to a left hand turn in the US I think).  I sit in the lane and diagonally opposite me is a sign that has been attached to a power pole.  It's a black board upon which the words "Jims Fish Shop" have been roughly painted with white paint (no apostrophe).  It's always there, almost like a welcoming beacon light telling me that soon, soon I'll be home.  I stare at it while I wait for the green arrow because by this time of the night I am really hungry and a visit to Jims sounds like something I want to do really badly.

When the green arrow appears I turn right and pass by Jims fish and chip shop.  It has a modern sign with blue fish lit up across it.  I think to myself that one day I will stop there and indulge in some of Jims battered fish and chips. Savour the salty, delicious flavour of fried fish and fat chips.  But if I do that I might spoil the want, spoil the longing, break the magic of wanting that food.  I like thinking that I would really enjoy eating it and would rather leave it at that.

So, each Wednesday I can just look at the sign and fantasise while I wait to turn right.

Thanks Jim for a wonderful fantasy.

linda x

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Friday, April 08, 2016

Goodbye Lord Howe Island

I awoke on the day of departure and looked out of the window of where I was staying and saw that the sky was blue.  It meant that I was heading home.  Home to my bed.  Home to my boys.  Home to my routine of life.  Was I happy to be heading home?  Yes and no.  I liked just doing what I wanted and eating out.  Walking.  Climbing.  Just having a relaxing time. But that is what holidays are for. 

I took a photo of where I stayed.  A little tropical place.

I rode my bike around the island before handing it back to the bike hire place.  The day was so lovely and warm.  However it was also humid and I subsequently had to let my hair succumb to the curls. 

I headed down towards the airport and took a photo.  I love how small it is.  

This beach is the main surf beach.  There were not many people here but there was a dog further up digging big holes in the sand.  The water looked beautiful. 

This was at the airport waiting for the plane to arrive.  Everything was so casual.

This was my little plane back to Sydney.  A little flea.  Up until around the 1970's they had sea planes.  

Another photo of the airport. 

It was a good flight home.  Noisy but to be expected in such a small plane.

When I got home I was so happy to see my furry boy Mr Benny.  He was happy to see me.

So that was my holiday.  It's now been five months since I got home and life has gone on.  I have celebrated another birthday.  My son has finished school and is waiting to start University.

I need another holiday.

linda x
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Saturday, April 02, 2016

Lord Howe Island Day Five

This was the day I had planned to go snorkelling for the first time.  However, when I awoke I knew that there was no way I would be snorkelling at all.  The weather was wet and gloomy.  Flights back to the mainland had been cancelled for two days running and people were having to stay back until their flights could be rebooked.  Considering my flight was going to be the next day I had no idea whether or not I would actually leave the island at the time planned.

When I opened my eyes in the morning it was quite late.  I was so tired from my climb the day prior that I lay for a while in bed listening to the rain outside.  Eventually I got ready for the day and pondered what to have for breakfast.  The idea of toast and soft boiled egg - again - held no appeal so I decided that breakfast at the restaurant would be perfect.

The raincoat I had foolishly forgotten to bring with me for the climb up Mt Gower would have to be worn otherwise my clothes would be soaked.  I picked up the pack it was tucked into and pulled out a pair of rain pants.  What?  Rain pants.  I don't know how that happened.  My rain coat was at home and all I had were these rain pants.  Just as well I didn't bring them yesterday.  Any explanation of why I would wear rain pants and not a rain coat would have seemed very lame.

So I went looking in the utility building to see if someone had left behind a rain coat to wear.  There were indeed a few to choose from.  They ranged in the "Monsoonal weather durability" to the "dainty Spring shower" non durability.  I found something in between that was both too big and a very unpleasant green in colour.

Once I was all ready to go I got on my bike and made my way down the slippery wet road to have breakfast.  The raincoat was proving to be fantastic for a small area of my body.  My legs, face, hair, hands, feet and a few other exposed areas got wet.  But at least I was warm.

At the restaurant I met up with a woman who did the climb with me but finished it.  She had come to the island with her mother and was finding sharing many days together a slight challenge now and then.   On the way down from the climb yesterday there had been a small rock fall and one of the women had to crouch down to avoid getting injured.  I had zero regrets about not getting all the way up but do think that one day it would be nice to try it in warm weather.

Her and her mother joined me for breakfast so it was good to have some company.  They were stuck for at least another two or three days on the island, their flights having been cancelled due to inclement weather.  It was at the point in time they were becoming bored.  Being stuck anywhere is a bit boring when the weather is wet and the things to do are limited.

Once I had breakfast I road my bike aimlessly around town and then back to where I was staying to pack most of my suitcase in preparation for leaving the next day.  After that I rode back down to town to go on the glass bottom boat to see the reef.

Although the current was a bit strong, the water was clear and the view impressive.  What can I say about a pristine reef?  It's an amazing eco system.  Full of colours, fish, turtles, shark, stingray and, of course, the most outstanding species of coral.

Only two people went snorkelling.  They had been many times beforehand so were very confident. Being a non swimmer meant that there was no way I would go out in cold water that had a current.  It would be a recipe for disaster.  Also, I had a sore throat and I don't think water and sore throats go together.

So, it was a pretty quiet day overall.

Tomorrow would be my last day and I hoped that the sun would be shining so that I could fly home to see the boys.

I was, by this stage, a bit homesick.


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Saturday, March 05, 2016

Saturday 5th March 2016


Five days into Autumn and we are having a run of hot weather.

Just days of it.  I'm bored with it all now.  Let the cold weather in, let the rain come down and let the sun set early.  It's as though Summer has been going on for ever.

I was going to do another post about Lord Howe Island but thought that could wait until next week.

The photo above was taken in 2004.  I had bought myself a Vespa and this was a toy version of it.  I am not sure where this little toy has disappeared to.  Hidden somewhere in a cupboard for my son to find when I am gone.  Though, after my husband and I sorted through his sister's things I am feeling it my duty to empty my cupboards of accumulated shit that I really no longer need.  There is an awful lot of irrelevant stuff that I think needs moving on.

My mum said something about when you reach a certain age you get sick of things owning you.  So I am pretty much at that age.

We are going to take lots of things that belonged to K's sister to a giant trash and treasure market. This is a good time for me to go through my cupboards and move things on.  Linen that will never be used.  Crockery that belonged to K's parents but we never look at.  Things I have had hanging around.

When someone close to you dies it is hard not to think about your own life and mortality.  K and I often go over the awful demise of his once very vibrant (if difficult sister).   We received the death certificate and she passed away of complications (ketoacidosis) from type one diabetes.  There was no alcohol in her blood which was a surprise.  Her death would not have been a good one and it's more than likely she would have been in considerable pain and not unaware of what was happening up to a certain point.

It was not the first time she had this but in those other cases she had made it to hospital and spent time in intensive care.  Being an alcohol dependant person added to her health issues and certainly aggravated this one.

There a a number of things of hers that I kept.

One is this Italian stove top coffee maker.  She had it for years and I recall her making coffee for me with it.  I now use it every morning and it reminds me of the times when she was okay.  She also had a coffee grinder so I grind the beans fresh each morning and get two big cups of lovely coffee from it. I call them my heart starters and I always thank my sister in law for this.

The other is this Japanese tea pot.  It is heavy and holds the heat.  Inside is a strainer to put in tea leaves.  I went to a shop and bought the little cup and the base for the tea pot.  I found the tea pot in a cupboard in her kitchen.  I never saw her use it.  I'm filled with a small sadness to think that once she was well enough to use these things but towards the end of her life she could not even wash herself in the shower.

Sometimes when K and I talk about her there's anger.  Everything she did was so self inflicted but, as we all know, it's easier said than done to get away from yourself.  She was depressed for most of her life.  Sensitive.  Yet acted so tough at times she was positively unpleasant.  K says to me that she was difficult as a child and it just went on from there.  We found half a dozen diaries she had kept from thirty years ago and you can see that she had her own way of thinking that, despite being self destructive and despite years upon years of therapy, never changed.  She was what she was.

So, for me, using her things brings me back to when she was okay.  When she was mostly happy.  It helps me forget what a burden she was for my husband who, no matter what, was always there for her.  I know it was hard because since she has gone his blood pressure has dropped.  Seriously. Never underestimate stress and what it does to you.

Now life is different.

My son has finished high school and started University.  Well, there is a bit more to it than that.  He went in on the first day and came home saying there was no way he was doing that course because it was just repeating what he did at school.  He had applied for the Bachelor of IT and Associate Diploma of IT and got into the latter.  So he reapplied for the Bachelor of IT and was accepted.

However the catch is that he won't be starting until September 1st this year.

I said he has to get a job.

And now I am seeing what it is to have an 18 year old at home who does not have a job.  It's really a great life for him.  Go to bed late.  Sleep in.  Play on the computer and talk online. Don't shower. Eat food.  Go out with friends now and then.

Part of me thinks "get of your arse and get a job".  The other (and much bigger) part of me thinks "just enjoy yourself because it's the best time of your life".  Deep down I want him to enjoy these precious and youthful years because you are old for a very long time and I never had the chance to be free just as he is now.  So now when I get home I say "been job hunting" and he replies "yeah, kind of".  I'm not fussed yet.  It will all work out in the end.

At work someone made a joke about my son being a sponger and I said "you're just jealous" and he had to agree.  My parenting skills have always been diametrically different to others.  The same with K's.  I never really feel I have to defend my parenting.  The proof is in the pudding.

What's been happening with me?

Aged around six with my older sister.
Same old stuff.

Although, I did join the dreaded cult CrossFit five weeks ago.

I was whinging (again) about putting on weight since I had changed my medication.  It was a sudden and major spike and there was no way I could have eaten my way to it in six weeks.  I just felt and looked horrible. Actually, I probably did not look horrible but I felt that I did.  Plus, I was reflecting on how I hated not being at a fitness level I liked.  My exercise regime was really down to the bare minimum.  So after some thought I decided CrossFit was for me.  A measurable way of getting fit and keeping strong.

After five weeks I have to say it is the best exercise I have ever done.  It suits my personality. Despite being the oldest person there I am not fussed.  Most of the people are fit and that is inspiring. I don't feel the need to be as fit as them and they are half my age anyway, but I do feel less inclined to slack off.

I have been going four times a week but may change that to three time during week days and, if I can do it, a Saturday morning.  Three days is still good and the going is hard each time.   I can't say I have lost weight because my aim is to be fit and strong.  My body is changing and I can feel it.  It feels like I am doing so many squats and they are not like any squat I have ever done before.  Each session I learn something new.  The trainers are extremely good.  And I am a perfectionist so I work hard at getting the move right without risk of injury.  I love going to it.

After putting on weight I dropped back my mood stabiliser and also went off the anti depressant.  I had started back on the HRT three weeks ago but went off it because it made me feel meh.  When I went to the psych last time he noted my elevated state and was concerned about it escalating.  We agreed that I would increase the Epilim up by 100mg again and if I put on weight within four weeks I would go off it and try a new drug that does not put on weight (but makes you vague and dumb).

Recently I worked out that going to the psychiatrist and getting all my medication costs me around $5K a year.  I am not even going to think about my CrossFit, hairdressers and other things. Although, exercise is good value for money in the long term.  So is the hairdresser.  Don't ask me why but it is.

The other week I had my yearly blood tests.  It had been two years since I had them however.  My results were just outstanding.  Like that of a young woman.  Unusually healthy.  So all my efforts have paid off.  On Tuesday I had to go to another doctor and gave him a copy of the blood tests so he did not repeat any of them and he looked at them and said "you are incredibly healthy".  Needless to say, I was a bit smug about it.  And continue to be so.

It's like the house is in order except for one room which is in total chaos. That room being my brain.

Next Saturday I am getting tattoo number two.  On my other shoulder.  I have always known there would be a second tattoo and now I am ready for it.  I can't say my husband is happy about it.  When I booked it in I was driving home and thinking if I should tell him the day before or just get it out of the way.  Anyway, I just told him when I got home.  It's hard for him because he is a person who does not like tattoos and I am a person who does. But he loves me and understands it's my choice and that it is important to me.  My son, of course, thinks it is fine and not big deal. Different generation.

Bossman hates tattoos.  I have not told him as I do not feel the need.  Once he said to me that he would not have hired me had I had the tattoo I currently have.  I said that would have been his loss.

You can bet he will be most upset when I rock up to work with another one.  He will think my medication is not working.  However, this has been a thought in my head always.  Tattoos for me are not something to do on impulse.

I'll come into work with a little light weight cardigan to cover it up for when clients come in.  Just in case they freak about a grey haired,  52 year old tattooed woman who does CrossFit.  Sheesh, when you read that it sounds odd.  But I know how to carry it off so can get away with it.

It's a funny thing people have very strong opinions about tattoos.  I love that whenever I come across an article about tattoos that allows comments you can bet, without fail, that 99% of them comments are negative.  Should the article be about tattoos and women it's fantastic. Such judgemental comments.  We are not talking about the perfectly acceptable mindset of "I don't like to see women/men with tattoos".  It's quite vitriolic.

I remember doing a post about how women with tattoos are often perceived.

You can read it here.  Nothing has changed.

Just for the record I have never once regretted getting my tattoo.

Still, it is fortunate that I am actually not fussed what others think.  I accept it and respect their right to an opinion.

I think that is about all I have to report for now.

Until the next post.


linda x

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lord Howe Island Day Four

I almost don't feel like writing about this day on Lord Howe Island as it really was an experience that I cannot say I totally enjoyed for a variety of reasons.

This photo is the only one taken on the day due to the heavy rain.  I did not want to take my camera out of my bag to take photos.  Don't be fooled by the smile on my face.  There was nothing happy going on in my head.

Day four was when I had organised to climb Mt Gower.   This climb is a grade 5 day trek 875 metres upwards.  It's a strenuous 8 to 10 hour return trip but you don't need exceptional climbing skills.  However, it's a must to be fit.  The trek can only be done with a guide.  There are two guides on the island who take the tour and if you ever go there do not book in for the one that does it on Monday and Thursday.  Which is what I did.  Book yourself in for the one who does Fridays.  He may do another day too but I am not sure.

The grey sky day started early, around 7.00 am I was picked up by a woman who was simply joyless.  In the jeep with her and myself were three others.  A youngish couple and a german man who was very, very fit and itching to get out and start climbing.

When we got to the starting point the rain started.  Only a light shower.  It was at this point I realised that I had left my rain jacket back at the place I was staying.  The "F" word went over and over in my head.  I was not really dressed for this rain.  It was at this very point I really, really wished I was lying in bed reading a book.  Call me unadventurous, but climbing in the rain is a very uninspiring thought.

On this tour there were TWENTY SEVEN people.  The guide who takes it on a Friday limits the amount to fifteen people.  So, here I am in the rain with 26 other people.  One guide at the front and his daughter at the back with a walkie talkie that only intermittently worked.  Not a good start.

The walk started off pretty straightforward through forest.  We then stepped down onto rocks at the base of the cliff face and made our way along the side until we came to a section to step back up and start to climb some more.  Walking on the slippery boulders was a bit challenging.  One false move and I might find myself in a "head meet rock" situation.

As I am writing this now months after the event my motivation to expand on it all is very low and I think that is why this post (that was started 20th January) is only being looked at again shy on a month later.

Anyway, let's plod on.  The guide, whom I am sure is a very nice person, headed the conga line of enthusiastic climbers with all the excitement of a man who has been doing this very trek thousands of time.  We just followed.  Some fast, some slow.  I was in the slower pack.  The last half a dozen who just took their time up slippery slopes, swung legs over wet boulders and pulled themselves up and over rocks with no discernible places to grip.

There were parts that were not too hard but most sections required some thought as to how one would get from one point to another without twisting an ankle.  It did not help that the rain was not letting up.  Slippery surfaces come with their own set of challenges.

It is hard to explain the nature of the climb.  The rocks, the paths, the ropes and the feel of the place are crucial to giving an idea of how strenuous it is in parts.  So I have taken liberties by uploading photos of Mt Gower taken by others who have climbed it.  On nice days too by the way.  So although I cannot attribute the photos to any particular individual I am thankful they were there to get.

So above are some great photos taken by other people.  The only part I did not do is the one where the guy is perched on a rock that looks very precarious indeed.  The reason I did not do it is that at about 200 metres or so short of the top, the guide picked three of us to stay back because we were deemed to slow.  Me being one of the three.  I was a bit surprised considering that five people were actually behind me the whole time but, by that point, my interest in the climb had waned, it was pouring with rain and the ascent was only going to require much more effort than I was prepared to give.  So I said "yeah, whatever" and stayed back while 24 others continued.

Now, 200 metres or so to the top does not sound much but when it is a grade five climb it was going to take a couple of hours for them to get to the top, have something to eat and more time to climb downwards.  His parting shot to the three of us left behind with no shelter in the cold and pouring rain was "don't go back down without me".

Yeah, right.  Let's stand around and get hypothermia instead Dumbo.  What a statement to make.

Initially the three of us stood around trying to shelter under a relatively leafy tree.  However the wind was blowing the rain all over the place so it was to no avail.  After some discussion the guy said that we should take shelter further down the mountain.  His girlfriend reluctantly agreed.  We moved downwards.  Then as we reached one level we moved further down.  And then some.  It was at some point a decision was made to keep going.

It took four hours to get back down to the bottom.  The wind and rain did not let up.  The most unpleasant place was walking along the cliff face track holding onto a rope with a long drop to the water below.

When we got back to the waiting car we could just see the others coming down, their journey had a way to go.

Once back to the place I was staying I peeled the soaking wet clothes from my very tired body and had a nice, hot shower.

Later than night I went into the restaurant to have dinner.  One of the people who completed the walk was there and we struck up a conversation about the day.   He said to me that years earlier he used to organise lots of camping and mountain climbing things for scouts and school students.  One thing he always made a rule of was that whenever he made a decision and should something go wrong, would he be able to stand up at an inquest and say that all safety procedures had been adhered to and that the welfare of those entrusted in his care was number one.  The answer in his mind would always have been yes.

He then said that never in all his days of travel and hiking had he come across such an inept and unprofessional person that our trek leader was on that day.

A few weeks later I was reading the travel section in the newspaper and to my utter surprise I saw a photo of very same guy I had spoken to in the restaurant.  He was one of the travel writers.

So, my summary of the day overall.  Not a good one for me.  However, I would attempt it again but only on a sunny day.  And on a Friday.

With the guide who only takes a maximum of fifteen people.

linda x

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