The stop-over Bay Hotel

Inverloch Esplanade Hotel
1 A’Beckett Street Inverloch

On our way home from our RACV Resort Inverloch stay, we headed on down to the town centre, a small selection of shops and strips, very reminiscent of an actual, old-school ‘town’… and decided to lunch it at the local Hotel before our long drive home.

It was quite idyllic, eating at the ‘main’ Hotel on the main strip. Old photos of the street and how it used to look decades and decades ago, adorned the walls inside, offering a fantastic view into how things used to be. A little trip through history that was fascinating. A lot had changed, but I was happy to see that the area definitely still retained its little town and out-of-the-way village feel.

The group of us sat down in a middle table, happily lapping up the conveniently-playing Collingwood game on the nearby screen. Many others, most likely locals, had the same idea, and were lunching it to the footy on screen on one wall. Unfortunately, it was not going the Pies’ way. But we could eat, and that would make it ALL better.

It’s a pay-up-at-the-counter place, so we perused the menus at our table before a couple of us went up to pay on behalf of the whole. The boys went to the bar area and bought drinks, bringing them back to the table, and I headed to the middle of the restaurant which had an area to pick up your cutlery and pour yourself some water, and could see that at the bar they had colouring pencils and folders of girls and boys colouring paper! So clever! I grabbed those too for baby girl and that kept her happy for a while… until that is of course, she saw the kids play room. It’s stationed in the corner and separated by glass windows all around, so the kids are kept totally separate from other diners. She kept pointing but we only let her go until after she ate, if we had let her in earlier she would have NEVER come out!

Our food was delivered to the table, and soon, we all had a plate in front of each of us. On the menu for Hubbie, baby girl and I, were these selections… for me:

Thai Green Prawn Curry – with steamed jasmine rice

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For Hubbie, the Beef & Bacon Burger – House-made beef pattie with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onion and jalapenos on a toasted bun with bbq relish and steak-cut chips

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And for baby girl, Chicken Nuggets and Chips

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I enjoyed my prawn curry meal, however with the wine that was accompanying it, it had a real kick and was super-spicy! It was great, yet I feel that some prawns were slightly undercooked.

Baby girl’s meal of nuggets and chips was a decent one, especially for the price-tag. She enjoyed it and we helped her along where necessary. Hubbie did enjoy his burger, but it was simply standard pub fare for him, nothing amazing or mind-blowing. Our meals had come out super quick which was a bonus, meaning baby girl could head on over to the play area and knock herself out ‘til it was time we hit the road for home…

Food: 7/10. At a place like this, the local corner Hotel, you come to know what to expect. Still decent.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Chilled considering the footy was on, and not noisy in the slightest. Maybe because it was a quiet Sunday afternoon, maybe because the day was grey, or maybe because, that’s just how it is in a quiet town by the water!

People: A mix of older people, and families. I’d say confidently, mostly locals.

Staff: They were friendly, however we didn’t have much interaction with them, only when we ordered, and then they brought us our meals.

Price: Although I don’t have a summary price of what our groups tally came to, I can give you some figures from what we ate. Baby girl’s meal was a very decent $9. Mine was a bit on the upside at $28, and I didn’t really think that was worth it. It was a lovely meal, but the price needed to be a bit less than that. Hubbie’s was on the mark more at $18, so there is a real mix there – of meals both appropriately priced, and then mine, which if executed better, and ‘plumped’ up, would be well-worth the pricier tag.

Advice: Having said all of the above, from their website at the time of writing, it looks as if they have improved many parts of the restaurant, including the menu. Check it out, you may be pleasantly surprised,… then let me know 😉

In a nutshell: With the fact that it looks new and improved going on almost a year after we last saw it, I would go back to revisit this venue. I love the old-Hotel vibe, the photos showing way-back-when on the walls, and the beachside location and local feels that really put you, in the midst of it all, part of the town of Inverloch and its long-standing history.

Do have a wander over, as there is something there for everyone. Sports TV for the guys, strip of shops nearby for the girls, and a playroom for the kids… did I mention the collapsible change table in the toilets? Mornington Main Street and Lygon Street could learn a thing or two from them!

A stay, and a bite to eat in Inverloch, is a lovely way to spend your day.

Inverloch Esplanade Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Move straight to the centre

Radius Restaurant
RACV Resort, 70 Cape Paterson-Inverloch Road Inverloch

(Visited June ’16)

Our trip to Inverloch in June 2016 was in celebration of many things. And it was our first family holiday together as one, so it made sense that there were people and events to celebrate.

When I say family, I mean ‘family,’ in the all-encompassing, all-inclusive sense.

Road tripping it over was myself, Hubbie and baby girl… my MIL… my parents… my sister, bro-in-law, and my two nephews.

It was a BIG one.

Although it was a very short trip, it was jam-packed and still a lot of fun.

On the night we arrived, we dressed ourselves up and headed on over into the dining quarters of Radius, the restaurant at the RACV resort that we were staying at.

If you can stay at the RACV resort, do it. You have so much accessible to you, the rooms are new and modern and luxurious, and then you have a view like this from your window.

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Highly, strongly recommended. So, back to the restaurant. There was a fairly big group of us, so it was a given that one of us had booked ahead to guarantee a table. We arrived by 7pm, and it took a while to settle with so many.

After all that though, we started getting into the holiday spirit with some drinks

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and then it was the long and arduous task of deciding what to order.

Not that there weren’t any good meals. It was just that our parents wanted ‘easy,’ ‘simple,’ ‘recognisable’ options, and translating what everything was, and what they would eventually get (understanding some menus requires study in itself) took a bit of effort.

Our waitress was lovely from the outset. She was kind and extremely accommodating, not at all like the nose-in-air customers who were dining nearby, looking over questioningly every time baby girl or my nephew made a sound. They did it with such rudeness, when they weren’t even being that noisy, that I almost asked THEM to leave. The inconsiderate nature of some people just astounds me.

But the waitress worked hard to make us happy, even telling sis that we could chill out on the empty table behind us, if it helped to make my nephew happier.

She had forgotten our bread rolls early on, but that was easily forgotten with her kind gestures, making her the ideal waitress that night.

Baby girl spent some time drawing in those small kid’s packs that come with some paper, 4 crayons and a sheet of stickers. That kept her busy, keeping us relieved.

When our food came, we were all raring to go.

I got the Bass Coast fettuccine, roasted cauliflower, charred corn, with gruyere cheese sauce and toasted hazelnuts

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Hubbie got the Porterhouse with red wine jus, with duck fat roasted baby potatoes and a resort salad, and an additional side of Steamed vegetables, local olive oil (not pictured)

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And finally baby girl had Chicken Nuggets, chips and salad

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Baby girl’s meal was good and even we ended up pecking away as the minutes ticked on! All our meals were pretty enjoyable, I enjoyed my fettucine, the hazelnuts gave it a definite crunch, and it was a very creamy and satisfying dish, which I didn’t eat all of, only so I could make some room from the desserts I was eyeing off in the display cabinet.

Hubbie was happy with the preparation of his meat, it was done as he liked. He enjoyed the meal, and though it was substantial, he felt it was missing something, and needed a bit more beside the meat, potato and salad component. Nonetheless, he was still happy.

There were main meals, entrees, and sharing plates everywhere. By the time we were done with that, the waitress suggested we could go into the adjoining bar area, where we could lounge out on the couches there and have our coffee and cake delivered to us!

So, why not?

The 10 of us meandered across and fixed ourselves over about 3 couches, before indulging in some yummy coffee and desserts

I got a cap and a mango ‘something.’ I don’t remember the name, but I know there was a pistachio cake layer, pistachios, jelly, mango of course, and a custard. I didn’t like the cake part, but I preferred the creamy/jelly/mango layer on the bottom. So it was half good, half not. The cappuccino was smooth and easily knocked back after all of that food.

After drinking and eating some more, and baby girl going out of her way to greet everybody… it was nearing ‘late’ time, and we so we headed off down the hallway… just a minute or two walk to our rooms 🙂

Food: 8/10. Good menu, and satisfying food.

Coffee: 8/10.

Ambience: It was warm and relaxing, yet there was enough noise to still put you at ease and not have to worry that you were dining in a library (ahem, nose-in-the-air diners).

People: Apart from the above annoying people, there were a lot of families and groups, being a resort restaurant.

Staff: Our waitress was overly accommodating if there is such a term. Brilliant, so lovely and genuinely warm.

Price: Surprisingly, for our large group, where there was a multitude of drinks and all kinds of meal plates, as well as desserts and coffee, it only came to $205! I actually can’t believe that, but it was true. So clearly I am saying, due to this it was definitely value for $$$.

Advice: Book ahead, being a restaurant within the RACV resort, it is a given to be busy most nights.

In a nutshell: I really enjoyed this resort, as we all did, and because of the fond memories made there, both at the resort and restaurant, how could I not want to go back? We dined at Radius for breakfast the following morning, and I can confirm their consistency, as the buffet breakfast selection was great.

The holiday was short and sweet, but so, so good. I want to go back, now.

Radius at RACV Resort. Keep it on your radar. And then zoom in.

RACV Inverloch Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shameless self-promotion

Hey You. Yes, YOU.

In case you, or anyone else didn’t realise, that little sidebar on the right of this screen running alongside my blog posts, that refers to a ‘carcrashgratitude’? That’s my other blog.

It all happened when I had a car crash you see. Aptly named, I know. Because from that deeply stressful incident, I decided to try my hand at posting a different item of gratitude per day for the rest of my life. If you want to read the full story, it can be found here.

Huge task, right? You got it. I’ve currently completed 127 days of attitude. I know there will undoubtedly be tough times ahead (as much as I am a glass half-full gal I know this), but I hope that no matter what happens I can still find some piece of hope or happiness in that particular hard day to share. Not just for me, but for you too. Because everyone can do this. If you look hard enough, sometimes in the tightest of corners or stupidest of places, you can find it.

I find a lot of gratitude in food. I find gratitude in my closest such as baby girl, hubbie and my family. Sometimes just a cold walk will make me happy, and you can’t forget coffee. My love. Yes, coffee definitely gets a mention.

I write about frivolous things. I write about deeply personal things, like my recent #127 post. I take photos and share those that I love. And of course the weather, writing and parenting is another big contender on my site.

I love the challenge to write about things in a different and novel fashion every time. There will undoubtedly be days where I don’t have anything new I am grateful for that I haven’t already posted about. The challenge is to find the countless ways in which I can express gratitude to one particular thing, take coffee for instance (of course I would use that as an example again). I’ve mentioned it several times on my gratitude blog already, and I will probably mention it 100 more, finding different avenues of appreciation for it.

I know this site only presents one side of things. Some people get pissed off when others are happy. I’m not saying I’m not bored, depressed, shitty or cranky with people EVER. I mean hello, I’m human! I have a Things that shit me tag on this site for that very function for when I have to blah! and purge everything out. I need the balance.

But I also know that gratitude is very powerful. It’s nice to count the ways you can be grateful, and I promise you, when you start, you won’t believe how good your life actually is.

Don’t you want to know how good your life really is? Yes YOU! I’m talking to YOU.

Come on, have a go. It won’t hurt. I promise.

carcrashgratitude.wordpress.com

(I may end there as I think I have exhausted my use of links for self-promotion…)

The true meaning of Christmas

‘Be Nice to People. This is a stressful time of year for many.’

Is what my daily calendar said to me on the weekend. I was fortunate to have the only problems of trying to find some last-minute presents amidst the madness of shopping centres, with the addition of cramming in time amongst work and baby girl and writing to make gingerbread cookies, and a gingerbread cheesecake for Christmas day.

I am so, so thankful to have these festive challenges. I will not call them problems.

You know what a problem is? Terminal illness. Disease. Young children fighting for their lives. Being unable to move, or speak, or do anything for yourself, because an illness has taken hold of your body and has you captive against your will.

I was thinking about the concept of giving earlier this month. It’s a time of year when there is such an emphasis on gifts, and an abundance of stuff, that the true meaning of Christmas is often forgotten. Along with family, and love, and appreciation, I believe one fairly prevalent theme behind this time of year is in giving to the unfortunate.

I was at a shopping centre and was stopped by a young guy trying to organise monthly donations to the Starlight Foundation – a fabulous organisation that grants wishes to children with terminal illnesses. Terminal and children. Those words should not belong together in a sentence.

I wanted to help, but I couldn’t dedicate my money in such a consistent manner as to be donating a certain amount every month. I wanted to do a once-off donation, but his stall that day was to gather as many consistent donations as he could. He let me off gently by saying “You can make a once-off donation online – just promise me you’ll do it alright?”

I often get letters by the Stroke Foundation too, ever since a family member suffered from one and I decided to donate. That reminder, along with the above incident, and Christmas lights strung outside houses and carols warbling about “good tidings to the world” ringing out through stores, I approached Hubbie with an idea.

On a particularly low day, days later, I went online and donated to three organisations. Two were for conditions that close family members of ours had been affected by – Stroke and Brain Cancer. The third one was The Starlight Foundation. I don’t go back on my promises.

They were the best presents I’ve given this year, and it’s not even Christmas day yet. I had been feeling low, but I knew it was no where near what people dependent on these organisations were feeling.

Together, Hubbie and I decided, that we’ll have a new Christmas tradition. Along with the Buble songs playing throughout our home in December, my kikki.K advent candle burning down to the number 25, and the smell of gingerbread occupying the house leading to the Merry day, we’ve vowed to make a donation to organisations important to us each Christmas.

Because, when you think about it – if you can buy $50-100 presents for members of your family, I’m sure there’s $30 or $40 bucks somewhere there to spare for an organisation that you think matters. If we all made a little contribution, no matter how small, imagine the tremendous impact it would make for the people with REAL problems at Christmas-time.

Just imagine. Now is the best time to make a difference.

A Year of Happiness

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GRETCHEN RUBIN – The Happiness Project

“A happiness project was no magic charm.”

The above eye-opener comes in July from Gretchen Rubin, over half-way into the author’s year-long project into happiness – how to get it, how to be it, and everything else associated with making your face turn into an upward curve.

It’s actually taken me way too long to write this review. I kept reading other books, and failed to update my notes on all my read books, making me fall way behind on my reviewing. I can’t give an explanation other than to say I was lazy/uninspired, and in relation to this particular book felt it much too hard due to the vast and confusing landscape of ‘happiness project.’

I purchased this book at the end of 2013, a limited edition one that was sold through the beautiful stationary store kikki.K. It came at a time in my life when there had been a huge amount of upheaval. I was in the store shopping for Christmas presents with an almost 4 month-old baby girl, following a year that had involved a major and distressing death in the immediate family, with then the subsequent birth of our daughter. With all the ups and downs, it was hard to imagine us ever being normal again. I was hopeful, as a glass-half-full gal always is – but it was so hard to envisage us living life to the full the way we used to. A book on happiness sparked my curiosity, and besides, I was always drawn to self-help type books. We can all improve ourselves.

I was soon to discover that Rubin had divided the various paths to happiness (as she felt them to be), into 12 areas, and would allow herself to focus on one major aspect, with its various subdividing offshoots, each month. I thought, being so close to January, that I would go along on the project with her as she had done, and decided to read the chapters month by month, in so doing my own kind of year-long project analysis of my life. I wanted to take my time and think these concepts through.

This is the book I read during the span of 2014.

This was a project into happiness, but what I loved was that it gave an insight into human nature, the way we are as society, and gave me a good sense of who I really was via the questions it posed. The book was set up in 12 areas of happiness building – for example March was “Aim Higher!” with the ‘Work’ tag associated with it, and some of the goals she had outlined for that month were “enjoy the fun of failure,” “enjoy now” and “launch a blog.”  (We’ll come back to that one later).

At first it seemed a little confusing, and as a novice into this field also somewhat bewildering. In her initial research into happiness, she discovered the personal principles that would help her to stay on track during her project, which also coincidentally turned out to be 12, which she called her ‘commandments.’ Then there were the ‘secrets of adulthood,’ the goofy things she had learnt over the years, and her ‘resolutions chart’ would help to keep her on track as she checked herself and her goals against it, month by month. All of this made me feel like the whole thing was awfully complicated and too-thought-out. I mean, if you want to be happy, identify the problem, figure out the solution, do the research, and go. I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a book if she had taken a simplistic approach, and also, I do empathise with the need for lists and ticking off items, as all avid-organisers and OCDers can attest to. But this was going to be one of many baffling (and awfully irritating) things about Rubin that bugged me.

Rubin’s sentiment for starting the project rang true for me. She didn’t think she was necessarily unhappy, but she did feel as if she should be happier and more appreciative of the life she led, following her lightbulb moment one day with the profound question “Is this really it?” singing out in the background.

From the get go, I immediately started to learn things and discover ways that would make my life easier, in turn making me happier. Organisation was key to happiness, with the obvious revelation that outer order does bring inner peace. This helped me to understand why I do always need to clean or sort before I start a project, because I feel scattered by things that are around and distracting me. I took on board two of her suggestions: the ‘one-minute rule’ and the ‘evening tidy up.’ The first one refers to tasks that should not be delayed if they can be done in less than one minute, and the latter is as it says, helping to give you a more relaxed and serene start to the following day, when all your crap is organised. This especially helps with kids I think, and it really made me realise that a lot of the jobs we often put off can be done quickly, when we can identify how long it will take to do it and then just do it. Take my current example of changing flat batteries in baby girl’s toys. All I really need to do is get her toys, turn them over, find out what kinds of batteries are required, go to the battery drawer and change them. That’s it. It won’t even take 5 minutes. Yet the act of putting it off will make this job seem like the hardest one yet, just by the fact of constantly delaying it.

Realistically though, we have to understand that some things will never be ticked off, and they will either be ongoing jobs or things that will create more jobs for us to do. This reminded me of an entry I read many, many years ago in Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, where he said (and at the time it blew my world) that our ‘Inbox’ will never be empty. We’re constantly trying to get everything done, but it’s just not possible. Understanding and accepting this is one of the key things to calming down and stressing less.

I got many other ideas from Rubin, such as the ‘6 second hug,’ a hug that for that minimum time is enough to produce mood-boosting chemicals to promote bonding; having a simple thing like a candle in your office can give you a sense of peace and help you to work smarter; and when she wrote about creating traditions in the family to foster love, I couldn’t help but think of all the singing and dancing that we do with one another, as well as our special family ‘eskimo kisses’ where Hubbie, baby girl and I rub noses with one another.

In particular, one of her goals actually set me on my own journey, as just as she started her own blog in March, so too did I follow a couple of months later – bringing me to where I am today! For that I am utterly grateful for her ideas. She had come across to writing from originally clerking, and so I felt it was encouraging to me, since where she is, writing full-time, is where I want to go.

Writing related, she mentioned a self-publishing website where she was able to create a book out of the journal she kept of her daughters first 18 months. This definitely spiked my interest as I too have kept lengthy journals of the exact same thing, and also I would love to have a hard copy of my first blog which is still being (un)read out there in cyber space, as memory of my life and writings when I first started out in the blog forum.

There were so many nuggets of life and happiness wisdom that it was hard to keep up. Things like:

“Experts says that denying bad feelings intensifies them; acknowledging bad feelings allows good feelings to return.”

“Happy people don’t need to have fun… the absence of feeling bad isn’t enough to make you happy; you must strive to find sources of feeling good.”

You can gain happiness from tasks that actually don’t make you happy in the process: my recurring ones are writing and throwing parties. That was a puzzling, yet true, revelation. Also, there was the ‘arrival fallacy’ which is the assumption that when you arrive at a certain destination you’ll feel happy. What makes you happier though, is the anticipation of it (something I think often about and have touched on here). Usually reaching significant goals gives you more challenges and work (i.e. the ‘Inbox’ is never empty!) which is why it’s so important to take pleasure in the atmosphere of growth. That is the fun part.

The most challenging tasks, give you the most sense of reward and accomplishment. Harder, therefore = happier. Last year when I made up all the invitations for baby girl’s christening from scratch, little did I realise how much running around, work and preparation would be required. But when I finished the lot, boy was I proud of myself.

One of my ‘woah’ moments came when I read about the fear of failure. She said that to succeed more, we had to acknowledge that we would fail more. She calls it the ‘fun of failure’ to help counteract the dread she feels. But my favourite quote was when she referred to a friend of hers, who always says whenever crisis strikes

“this is the fun part!”

Kind of like yelling “plot twist!” when something in your life doesn’t go to plan. I LOVE IT.

However, I also discovered questions that I really didn’t find an answer to. For example, she spoke about a controversial topic – does money create happiness? Can more of it, really make you happier? This was very dependent on your experiences, and also how much you had in relation to people around you. I realised in reading that chapter that I love buying coffee out, and eating out (Food Reviews anyone?) and yet I didn’t get an answer as to why that might be. Did it make me feel good, knowing that I could buy food and drink? Was it the fact I didn’t have to make it myself? I’m still pondering that one.

And just as I couldn’t discover why I love to eat and drink out so much, so too did I struggle to work out the character behind Rubin. At first it was slightly unnerving to read her accounts of ALL the books she read on a regular basis. Early into the book she recounted at list 20 titles just on one page. Being an aspiring author, this made me totally jelly. Then with all the ongoing references to an endless amount of books and quotes, I couldn’t help but think that she planned the book really well, or just retained a stupid amount of information that I never could. For her sake, and being the organised being she is, I hope it is the former.

My love/hate with Gretchen had begun.

There were other moments that made me feel inefficient. She talked about reading a lot, as any author would, and one of her goals one month was to ‘read at whim,’ where she noted about a zillion different writers and topics. I remember thinking ‘she has two girls, right? And one of them is a year old? And she does this how?’

She wanted to read, so much more than she usually did, even though her main work centred around it… and yet she wanted more time to pursue her passions, she wanted to read more for enjoyment.

I found one explanation as to how she finds all that time to read when she said:

“We had plenty of money to do what we wanted.”

But I wanted to reach through the book and slap her when I read this, when she was taking on the challenge of writing an entire novel in the month of September:

“Writing the novel was a lot of work, but I had less trouble squeezing the writing into my day than I’d expected. Of course I had it easier than most people, since I was already a full-time writer, but even so, I had to scrimp on time otherwise spent reading newspaper and magazines, meeting people for coffee, reading for fun, or generally putting around. My blog posts became noticeably shorter.”

Did she want writers around the world to unite against her? Don’t rub salt into time-poor writers’ wounds, Gretchen.

However, my frustration with her reached boiling point when I discovered from page 255 onwards, that not only does Rubin have qualities very like a person in my life who infuriates me, but she was actually her. This was a rude shock and made me question how I could continue reading a book from someone who I didn’t have any time for in my life, let alone let them teach me about being happy. Pffft.

In this section she spoke of her realisation of interrupting others, pushing her opinions onto friends in the example of forcing clutter clearing onto them (gosh she sounds like a delight), as well as a party of other very unfavourable qualities: she was a topper – “You think you had a crazy morning, let me tell you about my morning;” she was a deflator – “You liked that movie? I thought it was kind of boring;” and she was belligerent, looking for ways to contradict what people said.

When she went on to say that her first instinct was to argue with people when a statement was made, I made the following colourful note:

‘Yes! That’s her! Why argue? Go and argue with yourself over how you’re a fucking moron. (Did she write this in secret?)’

I started to, through my new-found anger towards Rubin and resurgence of hatred towards that person in my life, discover snippets of happiness-inducing tasks in the book that could help me on my own path, and help me in dealing with my frustration at infuriating people such as this. The following two quotes made me feel better about myself, as I pondered and focused instead on my own private insecurities, and why people like Rubin and others made me angry the way that it did. Insight can be a wonderful thing.

“Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.”

“It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light. We nonjoyous types suck energy and cheer from the joyous ones: we rely on them to buoy us with their good spirit and to cushion our agitation and anxiety. At the same time, because of a dark element in human nature, we’re sometimes provoked to try to shake the enthusiastic, cheery folk out of their fog of illusion – to make them see that the play was stupid, the money was wasted, the meeting was pointless. Instead of shielding their joy, we blast it. Why is this? I have no idea. But that impulse is there.”

Critical people appear smarter, and gain superiority from their know-it-all attitudes – but there is nothing superior about putting another person down, no matter what form it comes in.

And then, Rubin was giving me advice. Rubin, so similar in character to that person in my life, was giving me advice on how to deal with a person, like her! She spoke of rumination, which was dwelling on slights, unpleasant encounters and sad events, which led to bad feelings and often depression for women particularly as they were more likely to ruminate. This discovery rang true for me, as often following a troubling encounter with someone (that person), a solo drive in to work, alone with my head, can be absolute hell. But the idea of an ‘area of refuge’ which she invented to avoid her tendency to brood, sounded like a brilliant idea. She decides to think of one of Churchill’s speeches, or something funny her husband has done. Although I haven’t had a proper think about how to implement this, it’s certainly a life-task I will be coming back to. It’s like I was meant to read it.

In accepting Rubin’s help, I actually came to realise there were things about her that I liked. For example, she admitted to her faults (and wrote about them for all to critique), something not many people could easily do. She was human, getting upset at her husband and children for everyday things, and had to accept defeat the way many people did, giving up on one of her goals, a gratitude notebook, because it started to feel forced.

Finally, one final thing tied us together and made me much more sympathetic towards her. Her crap handwriting. I too suffer from shithandwritingisis, and it was refreshing to learn she couldn’t write lyrical prose for 45 minutes in a beautiful journal every day, because she wouldn’t be able to read it afterwards! Ahh, kindred spirit.

And, after all that, there was this:

“I love writing, reading, research, note taking, analysis, and criticism….”

This only confirmed to me that I was doing, what I was meant to be doing. In my free time, it’s all about books, notes, reviews, writing… This is where I am meant to be. This is where I am happy.

Although some of the above were tasks I could implement into my everyday life, there were other passages I read, those kind of insane life-changing lightbulb ‘Aha!’ moments that left me with goosebumps I would never forget the feel of.

She told the story of a man who would take his sons out because they would wake early every morning and his wife wanted to sleep in. They gave up trying to convince them to go back to sleep, so the man let his wife sleep and took them out, he got coffee and then watched them play in the park before returning home for breakfast. Rubin said these days, the couple slept late, but the man’s memories of those days with his young boys are the clearest and happiest of that period.

Excuse me while I cry.

Following that story came the highly appropriate quote, and also one of her ‘splendid truths:’

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

This quote quite literally gives me chills. It has become one of my favourite sayings, and a bittersweet reminder of parenthood. It puts everything into perspective, at a time of my life when there are difficult days, when things feel so hard, when I just wish certain stages were over. It reminds me that nothing lasts forever, and only to look back on the last two and a half years to realise that. It’s a scary thought, and a hopeful one too. It puts me where I’m meant to be most importantly, which is in the present.

A second profound insight interestingly came from a reader on her blog, who wrote:

“One day – I was about 34 years old – it dawned on me: I can DO ANYTHING I want, but I can’t DO EVERYTHING I want. Life-changing.”

Hell yeah. We can’t do it all, though in the name of positive thinking, we should be able to. Just another thing to think about, and to remember to do things that make you happy, rather than trying to do everything, just because we can. Focus on those things that make you smile. I’m sitting her typing at my laptop while baby girl naps, but when I re-read this, I’ll feel good about my writing efforts (remember, greater challenge, greater reward).

There was I poem I also came across that struck a particular cord with me, and thank God I googled it before re-posting it on facebook. It was an 18th century epitaph, those things you find on gravestones:

“Remember, friends, as you pass by,

As you are now so once was I.

As I am now, so you must be.

Prepare yourself to follow me.”

It is actually quite eerie, and yet when I first read it I found it to mean something else entirely. In line with my negative take on the saying ‘every dog has its day,’ I felt like it was a promise to those, that their day will come, that they will have hardships, and especially my friends without kids: ‘You will see how hard it is one day too.’ I don’t know why I am compelled to think like this, and why for a glass hall-full gal I am thinking on the negative side when it comes to this dog saying. I know that parenthood is hard, and I know that there are many out there, who like I was before kids, just don’t get it. I think, as weird as it sounds, I feel it’s comforting that I won’t be the only one in life with troubles and dramas. Sounds ridiculous, I know, as if no one has issues. We all do. But knowing you’re not alone, and other people will follow in your steps and have your problems, just as you will follow in other people’s steps and have their problems, makes me feel like we’re in this thing together.

“As you are now so once was I.”

I think whether you’re brimming with happiness and bouncing off of rainbows, or whether you’re staring at that second bottle of vodka with deep desire, we can ALL use this book. Sure, one can argue ‘Why the need to read about being happy, just BE happy!’ And I agree. There were many parts of the book when I just found the whole project a tad complicated, and her second ‘splendid truth:’

“One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy.

One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself.”

was a bit of a chicken/egg scenario and rattled my brain as I tried to logically work out which should come first and how they affect one another. But at the end of the day, as long as you can eat both the chicken and the egg, we don’t need to work anything out. Just as we don’t need to think too much about happiness – just be it. And if all that fails, fake it ‘til you make it and as Rubin says and does

“Act the way I want to feel.”

It doesn’t have to be so technical, but then again, whatever works for YOU. Rubin had her splendid truths, her commandments, and that helped her in her happiness project. At the end of the book she supplies additional info and tips on how to better your life and even start your own happiness project, just as she started her own book club too (something I seriously pondered, and still ponder today).

Rubin gave me a lot of inspiration, confirmed for me I was on the right path, and gave me lots of nifty tips and tricks, as well as self-learning, and that is a lot more than other books can say. She vowed to stop reading books she didn’t enjoy, and I too realised that I shouldn’t feel the need to read short stories or stories of sadness/loneliness/woe, no matter how acclaimed they are or how well they’re written. I thought in depth about my ‘True Rules,’ a term she coined for a collection of principles developed over time that help you to make decisions and set priorities. Where one of hers was “When making a choice about what to do, choose work,” I soon discovered one of mine were “There’s a reason for everything.”* And when a reader on her blog listed all the groups and clubs they had joined that year and all the amazing experiences that had come out of that choice, I couldn’t help but think with awe ‘Imagine all the friends and experiences you’ll miss out on by not doing anything?’

The Happiness Project is a must-read for all. Even if you don’t like Gretchen (as I can surely relate to, at times), you will love the ideas and insight into YOU that come out of this book. It’s a helpful guide to come back to time and time again.

As my sauce-splattered kikki.K wash cloth says:

2015-12-21 16.35.01

Too right.

Please let me know your thoughts on The Happiness Project in the comments below, I would love to discuss with you.

(*True Rules coming up in a later post).

What (Aussie) Christmas means to me, my love

Sunny days and leafy trees

sprawled out in the yard on lounge chairs

squeals of laughter from the park children

the squeak of Mum and Dad’s backyard swing.

Prawn platters, Fruit pavlova

three courses and constant food in between

Ham is not the star – everything is

and it all goes down well with a glass (or few) of champers.

Flowy dresses and bows in tresses

the kids run barefoot on the grass

we can show some leg and we don’t care

Summer, holidays, carefree, go together.

Annoying things too, like crawling ants and invading-space flies

tightly-wound presents with ribbon, all screwed up

but this is the miniscule list I hold

for this oh-so-Merry day.

Balmy nights, revved up cars

light until past 9pm

cannot sleep, but not just for Santa

for waiting ain’t easy when it’s pushing 20 at midnight.

Eating drinking memory making

What do you talk about with those you love?

Why everything! And now let’s make some plans

about how we’ll take on the world together.

 

Hot sand replaces stinging ice

sunnies sit meandering instead of wrapped-around scarves

we still rug up on Christmas Eve

to our loved ones for warmth, but not heat.

Carols may sing of snow,

Santa may be in his jolly suit,

cards will show reindeer, eggnog, fireplaces

and the pine trees are not native at this time of year.

But those are idealistic visions

of a Faraway Place

a dream where one day I will be, and see, and touch

and live in reality.

My memories here are of sun, of outdoor fun,

sitting outside and making memories with loved ones

My Aussie Christmas

is the one I love the most.

 

(The above was inspired by a conversation I had with a work colleague about our different Christmas memories, since his ones stem from living in the UK. He found it odd that the Christmas we celebrate is so different from the one depicted in the songs we sing and the cards we send out. But like I said, faraway place 🙂 )

 

Happiness Is… # 12

Coffee.

(I’m seriously baffled, mind-boggled, and stupefied that it’s taken me 11 previous attempts in this series before acknowledging this life-saving, world-changing, cure of all evils, magically attributed powers brown liquid)

I’m walking over with some colleagues to get the usual morning coffee. Conversation turns to “what would you buy with the $60 million on offer in next week’s Tatts draw?”

We’re talking the usuals:

money to family and friends

charity

holidays

houses and investment

shopping (my addition)

But then we throw in some exciting extras:

Getting a ‘good accountant’ so that we don’t have to pay tax on our fortune (my addition again)

Setting up a shelter in the CBD to help the homeless and get them back on their feet

Buying a football club

Walking into random bars at night and shouting “drinks are on me!”

And this is all happening BEFORE we’ve had a taste of our caffeinated beverages. That’s just how damn good coffee is. It gives you a burst of energy, in its anticipatory excitement of having it, before you’ve even had it.

Thank you person who discovered coffee beans. 🙂

Now I will proceed to list the many things I would do with my $60 million winnings:

Give a considerable amount to my immediate family and friends, so that they could live debt free and enjoy some luxury. Excluding the people considered in my recent posts Round and Round and Things that shit me… well there are consequences for being a dickhead isn’t there? Oh what the hell, I’ll throw a couple thou their way so they can buy some expensive shoes.

Buy some lion cubs, and set them up in a huge jungle-like enclosure so that they wouldn’t feel confined like the lions in zoo-type scenarios usually feel roaming along the fencing line, and I’d visit them on a regular basis so that they would know me and protect me against the arseholes of this world.

Set up my family overseas who are doing it really tough. Make it so that they don’t have the hardships and struggles that many living in difficult economic times over there are having.

Go shopping. I have this intense feeling of wonder, of how it would feel to go into your favourite clothes shop, and buy every single item that’s desirable to you, even if it’s just a “hmmm, maybe” item, and not ask about any of the prices. Just pay at the end. And comment to the salesperson on payment “that’s cheaper than what I thought it would be.”

Set up a shelter for unwanted animals. They can receive treatment for any ills, and just laze about for the rest of their days, living in happiness and comfort, with an abundance of food and love and attention and walks, yet the shelter would also serve as a rescue house where the public can come in and save an animal for free. Unlike other shelters, these animals would not be put down due to excessive overpopulation. These animals will live as long as they are possibly able to, because they would be in a huge mofo of a shelter.

Buy a holiday house on the beach, in Mornington Peninsula, Victoria; Opatija, Croatia; Positano, Italy.

Set up a shelter in Melbourne CBD for homeless people. The shelter would provide food and shelter, while also providing training for basic tasks like cooking, to more advanced career skills to help them get back into the employment field and get them back on their feet, and any other necessary life rehabilitation. It would provide this assistance until they were employed and able to support themselves, living from their own means and off the streets. Follow-up visits would ensure these people are checked up on and kept on track with their life goals.

Give money to cancer research. Employ the best scientists and tell them to kick cancers butt out of this galaxy and beyond.

Buy a really, really, really nice house.

Employ a full-time cleaner for life.

Get my Nissan 370z (I don’t need no porche).

Buy A LOT of cats.

Organise investments with my full-time for life ‘good accountant.’

Okay buy a porche.

Set up the underprivileged villages in African countries with clean drinking water, organise education and training, and help these children and their families make something of their life, far from the poverty they currently experience.

Walk down the streets, randomly handing out $100 notes with the catch phrase “Hi! I’ve been looking for you! Here’s my overdue payment” and then walk off.

Get a professional coffee machine (barista style) installed in my really nice house.

Go into bars and yell “drinks are on me!” and make friends for life. (Note: do this in my three holiday house locations).

Hire a bodyguard for life.

And with all my free time not working, I would drink coffee, do yoga, indulge in red wine, holiday, and just write write write!

Ahh. What a life.

(And all that from the anticipation of coffee!)

*Try it, it’s a fun game, and leave your comments below!*

Happiness Is… #10

My Sister.

You know how most people only have time for themselves? I don’t mean that in a selfish way, I mean just generally how people can barely look after their own dramas, let only those of others?

You know how people promise that they’ll show up, or help you, and most of the time they’re just empty words?

You know how people pretend to care, but secretly they’re envious of your position, what you have, or something you’ve achieved?

All of the above: not my sister.

If everyone had a sister like mine, there would be no war in this world. Because if they did, she would talk them out of it, so that everyone would be singing and dancing and holding hands ‘We are the World’ style.

I don’t say this because she is my sister. You may think I am bias, but trust me, I am not. I am the luckiest person to have someone as beautiful, inside and out, as her in my life. Growing up, my friends without sisters, wished she was theirs. Even my friends with sisters, wished she was theirs too.

I have never met anyone else so giving of her time and energy like her. She will lend an ear when you need it, and not even be irritated if you call at the wrong time. She will drive across town to help you out, despite having to take her boys to school or get them babysat. She will move all her events and plans around, so she can get to the other side of the earth, and help you, willingly, and happily, with a smile. She will do so, genuinely, and not expect one ounce of help for her, in return.

Despite hardships she faces, she will give you her time and wisdom when you’re facing a problem. She won’t get mad when you whinge about something trivial, and she won’t have a go at you because your problems aren’t as big as hers. And God knows, she could complain, if she was that kind of person. She has problems, she has challenges. If anyone were allowed to be angry, or sad, she would be completely forgiven for it. And yet, she smiles. She continues to be positive and thankful, and does everything at once, to please everyone at once, because that’s just her.

She gives so much of herself, of her inspiring, beautiful energy, to everyone around her… even those who don’t deserve it. I get mad sometimes, because I find myself thinking ‘why are you so nice to them!’ That’s her greatest fault, right there. She is too nice.

She is so selfless with her time. She will drop the 101 things on her plate to help you out. I am still sometimes bewildered by how giving she is of herself in spite of all the things going on in her life. She works, has a husband, and 2 boys, and I just don’t know how she fits it all in, and is still able to be there for others. She is wonder woman.

She’s one of those people, that everyone loves. If you were to not like her, sorry (actually I’m not) but something is severely wrong with you. You can’t even say she’s too nice, because she is so much fun, so happy, so up for doing new things and partying and drinking with you, that she is genuinely an EVERYBODY’S person.

I actually can’t put into words, how amazing she is. Because it’s one of those things, that until you see it, and experience it for yourself, you just don’t know. She’s one of those special, once in a lifetime people, that once you find, you hold onto with all your might.

She’s my sister, and I’m so freaking blessed and lucky and stoked that she is mine.

Thank you Big Sis, for being the best person there is. You make the world a much happier, lighter and brighter place with your presence.

I love you. We all do.

Love, Little Sis.

The Age of the Epiphany

If you’re anywhere under the age of 30, remember this: Your parents are right about EVERYTHING.

I’ve always listened to my parents advice, don’t get me wrong. I guess I was just kinda like working things out for myself, and thinking, like the over-confident Leo I can sometimes be, that I can do it differently, and better, my own way.

Ha.

My parents and my MIL are all super-paranoid when it comes to their babysitting duties with baby girl. They’ll cover the coffee table with the throw we have draped over our lounge, trying to cushion the pointy corners so that if she were to fall the material would soften the blow. When she runs around the dining table at full speed, they cringe. They used to barricade the bottom of the stairs with the pram, so that she couldn’t climb up them.

I didn’t so much mind all their little additions, but I told them to stress less and to not spend so much time worrying. Yes, sometimes she fell. It was never anything major, it toughened her up and taught her a bit about what she should and shouldn’t do. For some reason though, having them put the throw on the table… well it just shit me. I don’t know why. The throw was for the couch, and they were covering the coffee table with it. I felt like saying ‘she never falls near the table with us, stop over-reacting!’ To add to it, Mum further aggravated me with her comment “That’s ok, we put it on when you’re not here.” And then she laughed. Grrr.

Last week, baby girl fell while running around with her Dad, and hit her head on the tiles. It was the smallest of hits – Hubbie didn’t even think her head touched the ground. But the blood splatters on the floor and the drops down her jumper told us otherwise.

I can’t begin to express the chaos that followed that incident. There were tears and freak-outs, mostly from me. She had hit her head, but it was a minor graze, and she settled very quickly after. Thank God. But it was a major wake-up call for us. Our parents’ constant stresses and worrying was for a good reason. They had raised us. They had been through all of this before.

I haven’t said boo about the throw on the coffee table since.

On the weekend, Hubbie and I had a decent blue. We were arguing, and were both very stubbornly holding our individual positions. We were shouting angrily at each other, and not because of something we had done or said to the other- it was about a family member. I went to bed that night seething, yet so sad. And I contemplated how every single time we’ve had a big argument (minus the every day nagging stuff you just get used to) it was about a family member. I fell asleep on that.

To my surprise, we made up immediately the next morning. I didn’t think there was any going past it. But Hubbie was adamant that we weren’t to yell at each other like that again, and made the same observation that I had: all our big fights weren’t about us.

We are good, so good together. And we realised, through this struggle, that we shouldn’t let outside interference get in the way of our relationship. In fact that weekend I had read a quote about struggles being the instigators to find another way forward. Which we had. I also heard my Mum’s words circling around in my head:

“Never let anyone get in the way of your family. People will always try to make trouble between you, but don’t let them.”

Even though there was no one intentionally making our lives difficult, it was so true that we shouldn’t be letting an outsider get in the way of US.

You might be lucky, and under the age of 30 and know all of this. You may be older, and still learning. That’s ok. Life is a process. It’s fortunate if you can learn from the experiences and words of others, but often the best way to learn is when you live the lessons yourself. Just try to make the tough lessons a vicarious experience, if you can.

Happy Monday

As wrecked as I now am, ironically from the happiness of the day, I felt it ever so important to share in the joy and express why and how today was a ‘good news day.’

Because you can never have too much positivity.

It all started when I drove in to work, and found a park, in a really busy area where it’s usually really hard to find a spot at that time of morning. Lucky Tick.

I picked up a coffee and got into work before starting time. Soon after I had my yearly performance review with my boss, and was very pleased to hear she was very happy with me. I was appreciated, and they were glad to have me back, even in a part-time role. It’s always nice to hear that you’re wanted and appreciated. Job satisfaction Tick and Tick.

I caught up with a friend, who was now in a serious relationship with the guy she had liked for about 2 years. Hearing of how well things were going for her, made me so happy. I love stories like that. People who are meant to be, ending up together. She thanked me for helping her not lose it over that time, and for helping her ‘persevere.’ Awww shucks. Love and Happiness Tick. Dreams DO come true. You CAN get the guy!

I then got a random phone call from a health care business on my side of town. A former work colleague had put me down as a referee on her resume, and the place she had recently applied to was calling to get the low down on her! Being the fantastic person that she is, it was no problem to speak highly of her, tell them I missed having someone like her around in my current workplace, and that she was a very happy, friendly, talkative, yet hard-working and loyal employee. I messaged her later today, and she said she got the job! She had been looking for so long, and for so long I had wished there was something I could do to help her. And unwittingly, I totally did!

Job and Friend Helping Tick!

Then I happened across a programme at work, pretty much based on the changing face of Australia and how we have become the nation we are today through our people and achievements. I was proud to again be witness to the remarkable feat Cathy Freeman achieved at the Sydney Olympics, when she ran the 400 metre sprint and won, under the intense pressure and scrutiny of the world. Seeing the vision of her excel and succeed, amidst such public and also personal pressure, of being in the position to realise her dreams and became an Olympic champion, was truly motivational and touching. Inspirational Tick.

A horribly bittersweet story came next, of the Australian team that were one of the countries that had partaken in ‘Operation Babylift,’ where in 1975 they tried to rescue babies from orphanages in South Vietnam as a result of the war at that time. Although most of the footage of this event was re-enacted, seeing the images and hearing the stories of the people who fought against terrifying odds to take sick, close to dying children on a plane, crying and scared and set out in cardboard boxes, and nurturing them until they set foot on Australian soil, was truly moving. I struggled with great difficulty to fight the sobs as I watched one scene, of a woman run towards the bus which was taking the Australian team with the orphaned babies to their ready bound-for-Australia plane, begging them to take her child.

Crying, and begging, for them to take her baby. She wanted her baby to be saved, to be safe, in light of the harsh and sad reality that she, her baby’s mother, may never come out of the war alive. She couldn’t come with them. Being a mother, this scene was incredibly hard to watch, and it was only a re-enactment. Albeit a true story, nonetheless.

The happy ending out of it all, is that all the crew and the orphaned babies made it back to Australia alive. In sum, approximately 3000 babies were saved as a result of ‘Operation Babylift.’ And seeing that many of the adopted babies had grown and had families of their own in this great country of ours, made me so happy, made me so bloody proud to be part of a country that was part of such an important humanitarian effort. I am so, so proud to be Australian. Heart-tugging and patriotic TICK, TICK, TICK.

And then on a completely different, and lighter note: I came home and found a save-the-date card had been sent to us for an upcoming wedding of a really old friend of mine. I love weddings, and you know life is good when you have great things to celebrate. Celebration Tick. Milk it when you can.

I shared my ‘good news day’ on facebook, and funnily have had cousins messaging me asking if I’m pregnant again. No, for the record, I’m not. I’m enjoying my red wine too much at the moment to be ready for that again. But it was lovely to hear from people on the other side of town, whether 30 minutes away, 60 minutes away, or on the other side of the world (as occurred when my cousin in Germany messaged me!) Family Tick.

It’s been a great day. It’s been a great Monday. Today has been somewhat of an exceptional example, yet I think the lesson here is that you can find good, no matter how small, in every day.

Helping other makes you happy.

Sharing with others makes you happy.

Being rewarded makes you happy.

I forgot the best part of the day. Laughing with baby girl on the couch, as I blew air into her face, and she exploded wet raspberries onto mine.

Motherly, Tick. 🙂

Life is good. Life is great. Let’s not forget that.