Author Archives: Lauren

208 weeks, 48 months, 4 years

One day you wake up and you have a four year old.

FOUR!!

There is much truth to the saying the days are long but the years are short. It feels like only yesterday that she was being born.

I’m not sure where all the time has gone.

Juno is definitely a handful these days. She has already developed selective hearing and will ignore us if she wants to. It’s… frustrating. I hate having to repeat myself and then having to use that tone to get her to stop whatever it is that she’s doing which possibly involves her injuring herself. Sigh.

However, she is a pretty amazing little kid. She has this thing of using her hands and/or feet as characters and she gets them talking to each other. It’s hilarious! The stuff that she comes up with is so imaginative and funny. Often she’ll just come out with the craziest stuff, like there’s a dragon on the other side of the door but it’s okay because she’s a happy dragon and is playing with her (Juno’s) slippers. Which are shaped like unicorns by the way…

Hilarity often does ensue around here but most of the time I’m left in awe of how creative and imaginative she is. And how frustrating pre-schoolers can be. You can’t negotiate with a four year old. You really can’t. I’ve discovered that bribes work though.

Anyhoo… happy birthday to my little rockstar who, I’m certain, is going to change the world one day.

Well, that didn’t last long

I started work at a rural non-daily newspaper on January 14. By March 15 I’d had enough and quit.

Pretty dramatic hey?

I went into the experience all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I truly believed that this would be the job to put me on the path to becoming a journalist. I’d do at least a year, put in the hard work, develop my skills and then find myself a journo job in Melbourne. After all, I knew that country papers can make careers. I’m not afraid of hard work. Nor am I afraid of getting out of my comfort zone. I thought I was focused enough and driven enough to be successful and to make this job work for me.

I was so wrong. I was so, so, so naive and idealistic.

It came as a huge shock when I discovered just how much influence advertising had over editorial. The head of advertising gives every new journo “the talk” and in it, he tells these new journos that they have to see every story, every interview, every person as an opportunity to sell advertising space in the paper. This is pretty much the opposite of what I very naively thought newspapers were about. After receiving said talk, I felt like I needed a shower.

Being a non-daily (the paper was published once a week on a Wednesday), I was the only journo working there. My editor was in Echuca, my mentor was in Benalla. I was on my own every day and had to make editorial decisions about what went in the paper and deciding the layout for each week. These are not tasks usually given to a cadet journalist, let alone one who had just graduated from her course.

But I figured I had enough life experience to be getting on with the job and my prior web design experience came in incredibly handy when it came to doing the layouts. Turns out spending time working out how web pages should fit together does have broader applications.

I lasted about a month before I decided to start looking for another job. I was exhausted, frazzled and contemplating going back on anti-depressants because I was so anxious. I dreaded my alarm going off each morning, I would wake up and feel sick to my stomach because of what I was about to put myself through.

I was being paid for 38 hours a week but realistically I was doing somewhere between 45 – 55 every week with no hope of being paid overtime (it says in their business documentation that they don’t pay overtime, employees get time in lieu instead but the manager/editor had to approve it so there was no guarantee of getting anything for the extra effort). My take-home pay was barely above minimum wage, so low that it was below the threshold to pay back my HECS debt. I had to work on the weekends because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have enough stories to fill the paper. It was like having a major assignment due every single week.

There was never enough time in the day and add to that I was travelling five hours to and from work each day…

I know it was my choice to take the job. I should’ve done my research, I should’ve asked around. I had no clue just how much of a sweat-shop country papers were, especially the little non-dailies which usually only have a single journo. I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into. I didn’t realise I’d be responsible for the layout and that I would be making editorial decisions. I didn’t realise I’d have sole responsibility for an entire paper. Admittedly it was only 24 pages and I was responsible for just 15 of them. It sounded doable, it sounded like something I could achieve. And I was so very wrong.

It all started to go a bit pear-shaped when I decided to run a story and a page of photos about the opening of a new local brewery. As far as I was concerned, it was a good news story for the area and something that people would want to know about. The place had been project-managed and built by locals and you’d think it would be a natural fit for the paper. But no, the brewery hadn’t booked any ads and according to the head of advertising I should have put in a tiny story with one or no photos. However, he didn’t say anything to me directly about it. He just bitched to everyone else.

The straw the broke the camel’s back was finding out that Mr Head of Advertising had flat-out lied to my editor about me. He told my editor that I had refused to go out to a fire to cover it. Problem is that I had been to the CFA District 12 head office and talked to the incident controller and the comms person and they both said they weren’t taking media to the site and that if I went, I wouldn’t be allowed in. So I didn’t waste my time driving out there, especially when I knew there was only one way in and one way out so I was guaranteed to get stopped and turned around. Why would I waste my time? Especially considering it would’ve been 45 minute to hour long trip for nothing. Bit of a difference between respecting what the people in charge of fighting the fire had said and refusing to go out there don’t you think?

What really upset me was that my editor was so flippant about it. He really didn’t seem to care that another person had told him a lie about one of his staff members. He simply said that I was supposed to ignore what the CFA had said and go out there anyway. He would’ve known how angry I was but he was just so blase about it.

So that was it. For the first time in my life I quit a job without having one to go to. I have never done anything like this before. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve done but the strong sense of relief I felt walking out of that office for the last time simply reinforced that I’d made the right choice.

I could’ve easily titled this post how to make your toddler hate you in one easy step. One of the main reasons I had already started looking for another job was because of the effect it was having on Juno.

Juno doesn’t tell us she loves us but what she does say is that one of us is her best friend. I was pretty high in the best friend stakes for ages but as soon as I started this job, Daddy became her best friend and it stayed that way until recently. Even Grandma and Grandpa had turns at being her best friend but it was never me. It’s such a silly little thing but it hurt.

I didn’t know that Juno could recognise the letters in her name. I didn’t know she understood what numbers meant (at least up to five). I didn’t even know she’d succeeded in getting her shoes on and off by herself. So many little things that she’d mastered and I totally missed them because I was too focused on my stupid job. Two months isn’t a long time in the grand scale of things but when it comes to a toddler turning into a pre-schooler, it’s an eternity.

So now I’m left wondering what to do with myself. I really thought I wanted to be journalist but now I’m not so sure. The things I thought about journalism, the ideals I believed in got trashed in two months. I didn’t expect to told that I should take the paper’s advertising consultant with me to every interview I did and that I should look at every article as an opportunity to sell ad space. I didn’t think that’s what newspapers are about and what they were for. I didn’t realise I’d have to sell my soul to get ahead.

But I guess what it tells me is that I am moral person, I do have lines I won’t cross which I believe is a good thing.

I’m aware that what I experienced is nowhere near a normal cadet journalist experience. What makes it kinda worse is that I see awesome experiences my fellow students are having in their jobs. I wish I could have that experience but eh… there’s not much I can do about it now. I’ll find my way, I’ll find a job that’s right for me (and hopefully pays more than minimum wage).

2018 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
Interviewed people for articles. I found I really enjoyed doing it and I loved the whole process of taking what someone told me an turning it into an article that could be shared.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I never bother with them. You can decide to makes changes any time you want. It’s up to you if you stick with them, the time of year makes no difference at all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My grandmother. She was over 100 years old so it didn’t really come as a shock or a surprise but it was recent (only two weeks ago) and it’s proving hard for me to process. I feel bad because I’m not overly grief-struck by her death but she had lost so much in the last few years – her independence because she had to move into care, her freedom and, to a degree, her dignity (so many medical tests). When you think about it within that context, her dying is more like a kindness.

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
Albus Dumbledore

5. What countries did you visit?
Sigh. None. My passport has expired anyway.

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
A job. I’d like to have a job, doing something that I want to do.

7. What date from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
To be honest, this year has been one big blur so nothing stands out. There were times the only reason I knew which day of the week it was was because it’s on the tool bar of my laptop.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I should say successfully completing my grad dip in journalism but the thing I’m actually the proudest of is achieving my yearly goal to ride 6750kms in 2018, which I set for myself on Strava. I initially set a goal of 5oookm at the start of the year, thinking it would be a realistic goal but I hit that in September. I ended up extending it three times before finally settling on 6750kms. I hit that on xmas eve. It was just nice to achieve a challenge – even if it was a totally arbitrary one I’d set myself.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I think I could’ve worked harder in my course. I could’ve done better in audio visual journalism (for which I got a Credit). But it was a tough subject for me and I really hated being in front of the camera. When I looked at any footage of me all I could see was how much weight I’ve put on in the last year. I shuddered every time I had to watch myself. My lecturer kept saying that what we look like on camera isn’t what we look like in real life but I don’t know, a camera can’t make stuff up.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I went through a period where it would take me two or three goes to get up from the couch/chair/bed because I’d experience a horrendous stabbing pain down my back and in my right leg. Turns out I’ve developed sciatica due to a problematic disc (either grown a bone spur that’s pokes into the nerves when I get into the wrong position or the disc itself isn’t in quite the right place so it’s pinching the nerve). With some work and a better understanding of what was going on, it’s under control now and I’ve gone from having the pain numerous times a day to barely having an episode at all.

Also developed conjunctivitis in my right eye which then spread to the left one at the end of September. Couldn’t have happened at a worse time because it was when I had an important assignment due and found myself unable to use any of the equipment I needed to because it’s so contagious. My lecturer was very nice and gave me an extra few days so I could recover before borrowing the camera I needed to use. I was surprised at how much it hurt. My eyes were so irritated and I couldn’t use a computer or read for very long.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
All the stuff I bought from Velocio. They’ve become my go-to brand for my cycling kit. Their bib shorts are the best. They came up with a very clever design involving a zip for easier toilet stops which means I don’t have to essentially get undressed if I need to go to the loo. Might not sound like a big thing but you try going for a wee in the middle of winter when it’s around 5°C and you have to take your jacket/gillet and jersey off to get your bib shorts down! Those stretchy straps and the little zip on the back of the shorts make all the difference in the world.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
All those judges and lawyers in America who keep smacking down Trump’s insane executive orders. Now, that’s a man who needs to learn he’s not above the law.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
So many fails from our politicians. So many.

14. Where did most of your money go?
For someone who wasn’t working, I certainly managed to buy myself a lot of cycling gear. I also bought myself some really nice dresses and shoes.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
To be honest, this year has gone by in a blur and nothing stands out. It’s been an intense year which makes it hard for individual days or events to stand out in my mind.

16. What song will always remind you of 2018?
Eh…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? in comparison to last year, happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? fatter. Sigh.
iii. richer or poorer? poorer. So much poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I feel like I’ve been remarkably selfish this year, focusing a lot on myself and what is good for me over what’s good for the other important people in my life. So I guess I feel that I should’ve been more present for Richard and Juno. I don’t think I’m a particularly brilliant mother. I get frustrated with Juno so often and I just wish she’d co-operate with me instead of making the small stuff so hard on occasion. But she’s just being a three year old and I’m expecting far too much from her. I guess I’m doing the best I can and I’m trying to be a good role model for her by showing her that just because I’m the mum I don’t have to give up everything I want, which has been the gold standard for mothering. Too often you see the mum looking drained, worn out and at the end of her tether because there’s no time for her. That’s not for this little black duck!

I guess in a lot of people’s eyes that makes me really selfish and a terrible mum but, eh… what I do care about what others think? I’ve got a pretty happy, healthy and smart toddler so I guess I’m not doing too bad.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Spend money that I really shouldn’t have. Far too much impulse buying for me this year, which means I burnt through money that I was meant to be saving for a custom bike build.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my extended family. It was hot and noisy.

21. What was your favorite month of 2018?
November. Mostly because I got heaps of riding in and rode up a few mountains as well.

22. Did you fall in love in 2018?
Nope.

23. How many one-night stands?
Unsurprisingly, none.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. It’s meant to be about the food but he did some incredible investigative journalism for someone who was “just” a chef. It was a good day when I discovered the show had been added to Netflix in Australia.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. I only have a finite amount of time and energy so why waste it?

26. What was the best book you read?
I reread a lot of Terry Pratchett novels, including the Tiffany Aching ones. I know a lot of people didn’t like the series after A Hat Full of Sky but I loved the books and think they are some of Sir Terry’s best. Every time I read The Shepherd’s Crown I can’t but think of how amazing Sir Terry was and how much he must’ve struggled against the Alzheimer’s that was slowly stripping him of his prodigious talent.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I’m not sure nursery rhymes and music for children counts as that great a musical discovery.

28. What did you want and get?
I guess in the end I really wanted my grad dip. Still waiting for the actual testamur to arrive in the mail because I didn’t go to the graduation ceremony. I did work pretty hard to achieve this but it’s still rolling around in my brain that I’m not 100% sure what I achieved. But it will be nice to see the certificate when it arrives – make it all official and everything.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I really enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody. It was nice to watch a bio film that wasn’t bogged down in scandal or emphasising one thing over another. It was about Freddie Mercury as a performer and how much he needed his band-mates to fully unleash his genius. Plus the music was fantastic and I can’t believe the amount of work they put into the Live Aid scenes.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I got taken away for a long weekend on the Morning Peninsula. We stayed a very fancy hotel which was located in a vineyard and had dinner on my birthday in the newest fancy restaurant on the Peninsula. The child was at home with grandma so the real treat was getting some adult time. I turned 46.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think I could’ve stood to be more organised when it came to my academic work. Quite a few things were left until the last minute when they shouldn’t have been. It probably would’ve reduced the amount of stress and anxiety I felt. But still, only one assignment was handed in after the due date and that was because of the bout of conjunctivitis.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
I have no clue. I don’t think I have one. Comfort is quite high on the list.

34. What kept you sane?
My bike. I made the decision to go off my anti-depressants in August so I’ve been managing my mental well-being with exercise. So far it’s working.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Joined the band wagon in thinking that Jason Momoa is a bit of alright (after finally watching him in Justice League where he was hilarious).

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I got rather irritated with Dutton for saying that Melbourians were afraid to go out for dinner because of roaming African youth gangs. And then Mattthew Guy tried to run his election campaign on a similar vein. What a load of garbage!

I’m definitely not denying that there’s something going on with African (usually South Sudanese) youth but to make it sound like everyone in Melbourne was locked up in their houses, totally terrified of one particular cultural group is about as racist as it can possibly get. But it was funny how the media failed to report on a riot in Lorne in January until The Guardian ran with the story. The perpetrators? A pack of drunk white boys.

37. Who did you miss?
Umm… to be honest, no one.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Deanne, my myotherapist. She chastised me for not stretching after riding, worked out what was going on with my back, diagnosed over-extended hip flexors and weak glutes as being one of my major issues when riding and has been working on getting me better since about the middle of the year. And she was right about the weak glutes, over-worked hip flexors and the not stretching.

It was after a session with her where I promised to stretch after riding that the pain I was experiencing while riding stopped being as severe. I thought that pain was normal for me when I rode my bike but she has convinced me that it’s not normal and that I can do something about it. The first time I rode without pain was amazing. And all because I’d started stretching (again).

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.
You’re never too old to chase your dreams.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Eh…

So, here we are

Today is results day for my Journalism grad dip.  Two distinctions and a credit.

Yay me?

I know I should be pleased with myself. I did really well this year with one high distinction, four distinctions and a credit over all. They’re grades to be proud of and I’m sure I did better than some of the other students in the course. I should feel a sense of achievement.

But to be honest I don’t feel like I achieved anything.

We finished at the end of October and since then I’ve been applying for job and getting nowhere. I’ve only had two interviews for what I think is about 50 or so job applications. It’s not like last year when I finished at work and then spent three months doing whatever I wanted. Then I knew it was only temporary and that I was moving towards something new.

This time I have no idea where I’m going or what lies ahead. I thought I’d have a job by now, I thought I would’ve moved on to something new but I seem to be stuck, waiting. It’s extra hard when I know that plenty of the people I studied with have jobs and are off doing exciting journalisticy things.

No one seems to want to hire a 46 year old woman, let alone one with a toddler.

I guess the the other thing is that once I started the course and really got into it, I realised that I’ve always wanted to be a journalist. I should’ve ignore everyone who told me I shouldn’t do it and tried. I should’ve tried to have gotten a cadetship, applied for a uni course.  If I had, maybe I would be an experienced journalist by now, probably pursuing some wacky idea or working in a big newsroom.

But it’s all a moot point because I didn’t.

It’s not where I am now and it’s not the reality I have to deal with. Reality is, I want a job, I want to get back work and feel like I’m achieving something. I want to contribute to the well-being of my family and not be a drain on our resources. I’ve spent most of the year feeling selfish because it’s all been about me. I’ve spent a year doing what I wanted to do in the hope that it would take me off in a new direction. But it feels like the direction I want to go in doesn’t want me and isn’t interested in what I have to offer.

I guess I just hate feeling useless. No one likes being rejected or overlooked and that’s all that’s happening to me right now. Not much more I can do expect hope that sooner rather than later someone will decide I’m worth investing in.

Three years, six months

Time is a funny thing. Part of me still can’t get my head around the fact that Juno is three and half when it feels like it was just yesterday she were this totally adorable, wriggly, happy baby. Another part of me feels like it’s been way, way, waaaaaaaay longer than that.

This whole having a toddler thing is hard, much harder than when she was a baby. Juno really was a unicorn baby – slept through the night, happy 99 per cent of the time, laid-back and easy-going. I can look back now and see she really was the world’s easiest baby and we totally lucked out.

Suffice to say the transformation into a toddler has been… challenging. She’s not quite so laid-back these days and is very, very definite about what she want and when she want it. I’m sure this is all perfectly normal toddler behaviour and in comparison to some toddlers, she probably would be considered laid-back and easy-going.

For us though, it came as a bit of a shock and we definitely weren’t prepared for it. I guess we thought that Juno would continue to be the unicorn child – cooperative, happy, extremely cute and lovable. She’s still all those thing but maybe a little less cooperative then what she was. It has been amazing to see her personality emerging and to listen to hear rapidly developing vocabulary. She is a sweet, lovely little girl. (But if you asked her, she’s not a little girl, she’s a big girl!)

But the shouting. Oh my gosh, the shouting and angry tears have started. I do not enjoy being manipulated but there’s nothing we can do about it. Knowing it’s an important developmental stage is not helping. We’re working on trying to stop her shouting at us when we don’t do what she wants but I have a feeling we’ll just have to wait it out.





Your mountain is waiting so get on your way

Road heading up a mountain

About half way up to Falls Creek, November 2017.

Last year I was in a meeting and somehow, towards the end, the conversation angled itself around to the fact that I was going away to Bright with a big group of friends to ride up some mountains which then leads to plenty of eating and drinking. I got asked why would you ride up a mountain?

At the time, all I could come up with was because it’s there?

It’s so hard to explain why I ride up mountains when I most definitely do not have the right body type for it. I’m probably  a good 10 kilos too heavy to ever find climbing easy.

But for some crazy reason, I keep persisting. Since October last year, I’ve ridden up Mt Donna Buang six times. My best time was set way back in 2013, pre-Juno and when I was riding heaps. I’ve been edging closer and closer to it but now I’ll have to wait until after winter to try again.

Donna isn’t by any means an easy climb. It has two incredibly steep sections, one right at the end which averages around a 10% grade and it’s a killer. Every time I get out there, I always end up wondering why I’m doing it. It causes me physical pain but yet I persist.

As I’m doing it I often can’t help but think how stupid I’m being.

Why am I’m willingly hurting myself? Why I am putting myself through it when there’s no obvious reward? I know it puzzles a lot of people, especially because I don’t look like someone who would willingly ride up a mountain.

It’s so hard to explain to someone who doesn’t ride a bike.

I always used to hate riding up mountains, really hated it. I found it so hard and the little voice in my head was always saying negative things to me like you can’t do it, you’re too weak or what made you think you could do this, you idiot. The only reason I persisted was because I really, really, really loved descending. There’s nothing quite like bombing it down a mountain as fast as you can. The rush of the air, the blur of the scenery flying past, the ease. It’s the best thing in the world.

Having a baby has changed my perception of climbing. For one thing, it’s given me far more patience and I understand that I can do whatever I want if I put my mind to it. I mean, I had a baby. I grew a whole new person! It kinda puts everything into perspective. My self talk has essentially boiled down to you had a baby, this is nothing!

If nothing else, it gives me time to think or to simply live in the moment. It’s become a mindfulness activity for me. It’s also time I spend alone which is a luxury these days. For me, it’s turned out to be really important that I have reminders of the person I was before I became a mum and that I’m still that person (just with some added extras these days).

I still don’t love climbing but these days I do have an appreciation for it.

Trees at the edge of the road.

How could you not enjoy climbing when you get to see things like this? About half way up Lake Mountain, March 2018.

We have a threenanger

Happy third birthday to our threenanger, Juno.

It’s certainly been an interesting ride.

You’ve gone from a chilled-out, calm baby to a defiant, adorable, intense and fun-loving toddler.

You are definitely a child who knows her own mind and wants what she wants. Immediately. With no delays.

It’s amazing to see your personality forming and you becoming your own person.

I get that where you are now is an important developmental stage but gosh, you can be exhausting when you want to be. All we can do it ride it out and live in hope we’ll survive it.

Having said all that, you’re an awesome little kid. You have such a bright spark inside you. You just shine.

And to be honest, we all know you totally own me.

Yup, it’s that time of year again

Much love to those I hold dear, both near and far. May the festive season be good to you and your families. Be good and try to get up the right amount of mischief.

2017 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
Got made redundant. Worked out it’s been around 23 years since I haven’t worked. But really, I didn’t do it, it was done to me.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Eh. Waste of time.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yup, my former boss and friend gave birth to an adorable baby boy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Sigh. I have to renew my passport next year but I’m not sure I’ll be using any time soon.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
Less anxiety and stress. Surprisingly I’ve never suffered from anxiety but this year has been a lesson in mental health issues. I always thought depression can make you feel so awful but anxiety looks at depression and says hold my beer! and then laugh maniacally when you fall apart. I would be happy if I never experienced it again but I’m sure I will.

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 8. I walked out of work knowing I wouldn’t be coming back. It was a really weird day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Doing the Rapha Women’s 100. It was such a challenge but I really enjoyed it even though I knew absolutely no one. It was great to be out riding with so many women. I’m hoping to do it again in 2018.

I also managed to beat Richard up Falls Creek. Only managed it once before and this time I totally crushed it. LOL

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not being able to keep my mouth shut at work. I would’ve had a much easier time of it if I had. (And yes, I believe my not going along with everything senior management said had an effect on me being made redundant.)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My shoulder once again started to give me grief. It was definitely stress-related and I experienced tingling in my fingers again (my medial ligament was being crushed). So it was off to the physio for me. He managed to sort it which was nice. But at least I know that stress can induce this.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
New bike shoes. I finally found a pair that works for me. Ended up in size 40 though. (I was a 38.)

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The 68% of the Australian population who voted yes in the ridiculous marriage equality survey.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
As always, the majority of politicians. The exceptions are few and far between which is disappointing. Tony Abbott is a horrible, horrible person. Malcolm Turnbull has turned out to be the hugest disappointment. But I am impressed by how flexible he is considering how much time he spends contorting himself into knots trying to keep everyone happy (except for the voting public of course).

14. Where did most of your money go?
So much clothing for Juno. So much. And I bought an awful lot of cycling gear this year. (Yay!)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I got rather enthused about our annual Bright trip. Probably because we were leaving Juno behind at home with my mum and we had four child-free days. It was awesome.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
Eh…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? unfortunately sadder. 2017 has been a really bad year for my mental health.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. Sigh.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer – most definitely poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Focusing on the good things in my life. I have a wonderful family – a supportive, loving husband and a gorgeous child. That’s worth focusing on.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Getting too involved in crap at work that I had no control over and could do nothing about. All it did was cause me a lot of grief.

20. How will you spend Christmas?
With Richard’s family. Juno is very enamoured of all the xmas trees that are around.

21. What was your favorite month of 2017?
Wait, it’s the end of the year already? When did that happen?

22. Did you fall in love in 2017?
Yes 🙂

23. How many one-night stands?
None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
The Handmaid’s Tale. So good but so, so scary. Also kinda timely considering what’s happening in America at the moment.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. Hate is a pretty wasteful so why put any energy towards it?

26. What was the best book you read?
The Handmaid’s Tale. Read it before many times but reading again in the current world political situation (and before the TV shows started) made for scary reading. But it’s so well-written.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Still listening to the same stuff. With added children’s music. Hmmm…

28. What did you want and get?
New bike shoes! Took me so long to get something I liked and fitted well.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I was going to say it was a toss-up between Wonder Woman and Logan but I finally got around to seeing Thor: Ragnarok and loved it so much. It was so much fun. Logan was incredible though. They finally got a Wolverine movie 100% right. Wonder Woman had so much that was great about it (but I have to admit the best thing was seeing Gal Gadot’s thigh jiggle when she landed after a huge jump).

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We had a nice family long weekend at the Morning Peninsula. I went to the Peninsula Hot Springs on my birthday for a facial and massage while Juno had daddy/daughter time. We had a lovely dinner at Petit Tracteur.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I don’t know. 2017 has been a pretty horrible year for me so I needed pretty much everything to be better. All I can do at this point is hope that 2018 is better.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
I have no freaken idea! Comfortable?

34. What kept you sane?
Anti-depressants, my therapist and my bike. First time ever I’ve been on anti-depressants and they have been so helpful. It’s also the first time I’ve actually stuck with therapy and it made me realise the last couple of years have been pretty intense for me. I also realised that I’m still angry with the idiot driver who hit me and left me with a broken arm. I think I always will be but acknowledging it has been helpful. Riding has been a huge coping mechanism and I’m grateful it’s a healthy one.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Meh…

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Marriage equality and silly non-binding postal survey. Such an astronomical waste of money, especially when you consider that the government knew what the outcome would be. The rubbish that was spouted by the no side was just that – rubbish and deliberately designed to confuse the issue. It was wonderful to see that the majority of the population could see right through their silly arguments and voted yes.

37. Who did you miss?
My now-former team lead. I really missed her this year as she was on maternity leave. I felt that she always had my back. I’m really happy for her that she managed to get position in the restructure, even if it’s one that she wasn’t too keen on (gotta pay for that childcare somehow!). It’s really nice that we’ve managed to make the transition to friends.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My physiotherapist, Darren. He with the magic hands who sorted out my shoulder issues (even if it did hurt while he was working on my shoulder).

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017
That I don’t have to be who other people think I am. I can be so much more.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Eh…

The times, they are a’changin…

2017 is not going to go down as a great year.

It feels like I’ve been put through the wringer and have been thoroughly beaten to a pulp. It all started with the director of the unit I work in deciding that we were all going to move to hot-desking in around April. I loathe hot-desking and think it’s a fantastic way to demotivate staff and make people really unhappy.

Then I started to feel like I was wasting my time even turning up to work because I could see all the interesting projects being passed onto other people while I was doing all the boring drudge work.

I was feeling seriously under-valued and very put-upon and I totally lost the plot. In May I walked out of work and didn’t go back for a week and a half. The idea of actually going to work made me so anxious I thought I might throw up. I got myself a mental health plan and took myself off to see a therapist to help me work myself out.

I’ve never suffered from anxiety before and I had no clue how crippling and debilitating it can be. I know now and my adventures into it weren’t that serious.

It all came to head one Saturday morning when I was out for a ride. Riding is usually my stress relief but this one was just awful. I couldn’t correctly judge how close the cars were to me and my brain kept telling me they were too close and were going to hit me. I spent the whole ride totally freaked out. I made an appointment to see my GP and finally decided for the first time in my life to go on anti-depressants. The chemical balance in my brain was so obviously out of whack that it needed some help to get back to normal.

Even though I’ve suffered from depression my whole life, I’ve always resisted anti-depressants. There’s such a huge stigma to mental health and the medication that goes with it. It’s hard to get past. However I can definitely say that going on them was the best thing I could’ve done. They really helped me. I went from being constantly angry and upset 95% of the time to feeling relatively normal. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me.

And then the restructure hit.

There’s never a nice way to do a restructure. People are going to lose their jobs and that’s the reality. But it seems that every time I’ve been through one here (this is my fifth one) it’s always been handled terribly. It feels like senior management have totally lost touch with the average Joes who do all the work so there was no acknowledgement of the work that’s being done. There also doesn’t seem to be any reason for this particular restructure to have been as slash-and-burn as it has been. And the timing is absolutely atrocious. They couldn’t have picked a worse time to do it. But whatever… it’s done.

Long story short, I’ve been made redundant.

After 17 years at RMIT, I’m being shown the door. A nice redundancy package is heading my way (hopefully) and I’ll wander off, never to have to sit in this freaken office ever again! I haven’t received my “official” letter as yet but maybe that’ll appear in tomorrow’s meeting. That and my paperwork that will tell me how much they’re going to pay me to leave quietly. 😛

To be honest, it’s the best possible outcome for me. The likelihood of me getting a job in the restructure I really wanted was always going to be slim. I accepted that when I didn’t apply for any of the jobs I probably would’ve been a shoo-in for. Still, I have to admit it’s not nice to be told your skills aren’t required and that essentially you’re not good enough to be kept around. I’m sad too because RMIT has been part of my working life for such a long time now. Realistically though, I don’t think I would’ve stayed that much longer anyway, especially if I was feeling that my skills were going to waste.

But screw ’em! I don’t have to be the person they think I am. I will miss my lovely MacBook Pro though.

On the upside…

I have been offered a place in the Graduate Diploma of Journalism at RMIT. It’s an official unofficial offer at the moment but I should get my official offer tomorrow. I am hugely, hugely excited. I wanted to do journalism when I was in year 12 but was directed away from it. So now I’m finally getting to do something that I really want to.

I may not end up as a journalist but it will get me much closer along the way to doing what I want to do – if I ever actually work that out! Once I’ve completed the grad dip I’m going to have a fairly unusual skill set so hopefully that will work in my favour. We shall see. Exciting times ahead!

After everything that has happened this year, I’d really like 2018 to be a year with no major life-changing decisions. That’d be nice after a year of being swamped by them.