Category Archives: Blatherings

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.

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.

The progress of time

So, this time three years ago, I was lying in a hospital bed with a badly broken arm and in an astronomical amount of pain.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot today because today was Amy’s Gran Fondo and I rode it. Yes, my time was slower than last year and I’m absolutely exhausted but I still feel like I achieved something. Today was a much, much better day than the one I was going through all that time ago.

My life was profoundly changed by that accident. I’ve accepted the fact that I will always be angry with the woman who hit me. I can’t change how I feel but hopefully I can move further away from that moment that has been one of two defining moments in my life in the past three years. I guess finally finding acceptance with my anger is a starting point.

I’ve had such issues with my body but I’m trying so hard to change how I think about my body for Juno’s sake because I don’t want her to suffer with the same issues that I have. It’s definitely not perfect and there is so much I would change about it but I should be thinking about how amazing it is. I went though a traumatic experience whilst pregnant, carried a baby, had major abdominal surgery in the form of a c-section and went through 18 months of physical therapy once I could after Juno was born. I need to acknowledge the fact I can pretty much do everything I did before is a pretty amazing accomplishment.

Yay me?

2016 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Attempted to ride up Mt Hotham. It did not go well.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Eh. Who needs them?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope. I correctly guessed that my boss was pregnant about four weeks before she told anyone though. LOL

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

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Any overseas trips are most definitely a few years into the future.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
More time? But I know that’s not going to happen with a toddler.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
30 March. I went back to work after 13 months on maternity leave and had to relearn how to use PC. (Seriously!!)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Returning to work. Unfortunately for me, I returned just as two major software systems were about to be replaced so I had to learn a huge amount of new stuff. One of them had me doubting my ability to learn new software quickly – a skill I’ve always had – but it turns out everyone was and still is struggling with it. Still, it was really nice to use my brain in a way that had nothing to do with managing a baby/toddler.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting my spending under control. We’ve both dropped to four days a week so there’s definitely less money around. I must do better! Especially if I want to get a custom-made bike for my 50th birthday.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I’ve had a lot of problems with my back this year. I think it’s stemming from issues with my Cesarean scar which hasn’t healed as well as I had hoped it would. I have adhesion and on the left side, they’re catching on one of my oblique muscles, which in turn seems to be throwing my back out. I’m seeing a specialist myotherapist in the hope she can break down the scarring which should free everything up and hopefully reduce my pain.

Really hoping the myotherapy works otherwise I could be in for surgery. Bleugh.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
All the cute outfits for Juno!! She’s so much better dressed then I am.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Richard. He has put up with a lot this year and he still loves me. Pretty amazing I think.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
The Australian voting public. We’re idiots. What are we? Idiots!!

14. Where did most of your money go?
Juno, Juno, Juno! I don’t seem to be able to resist all the things for her. I would’ve said bike shoes but nope, not a single cycling company seems to want my (currently non-existant) money.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Finally getting to do Amy’s Gran Fondo after not being able to to for three years. They reversed the direction this time and I found the last 30kms down the Great Ocean Road a pretty hard slog but it was also really rewarding as well.

I can be so hard on myself (especially lately as the weight has crept back on) but I have to remember that I had a baby. 20 months ago I had a baby. My body did this amazing thing and I should love it for that, not get all critical on how I look. I think my problem is that pre-baby I did so much riding and exercising in general but now I’m restricted in what I can do. I should be thinking how great it is that I am back on the bike and doing some relatively hard rides.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Eh…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? it’s a little more complex then that these days.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. Sigh.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer – most definitely poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
More fun stuff with Juno. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing enough stuff with her to stimulate her development and mind. But then again, she’s such a happy, laid-back child, I guess she’s doing okay so I must be doing something right.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Doubting myself as a parent. I put this last year too but it’s still true. I shouldn’t be doubting myself so much. Juno is an awesome little kid and I’m doing my best I can. That should be enough.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family. Juno was rather disinterested in her presents but we’re enjoying the fact that she’s still young enough to not understand what xmas is and start demanding things. Next year will be different and I’m guessing we’ll have to get a xmas tree.

21. What was your favorite month of 2016?
I’m going whoa! it’s December already?! When did that happen?

22. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Yes 🙂

23. How many one-night stands?
None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Game of Thrones. So looking forward to seeing how it ends.

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?
All the Terry Pratchett books I’m currently re-reading. Can you miss someone you never met? Because I certainly miss him. I miss the excitement of a new book coming out, buying it as soon as possible for my kindle and then again in book form so I can read with all the footnotes. Sigh.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Still listening to the same stuff I always have. But I haven’t really had the time this year.

28. What did you want and get?
I didn’t really want anything. Well, that’s not true, I wanted the pain in my arm to stop and that’s kinda happened. I guess I’ll just have to see what happens with it in 2017.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Doctor Strange was a visual feast for the eyes. Story might’ve been paper-thin but I quite enjoyed it. Did chuckle at how Doctor Strange would suddenly drop into an English accent on the odd occasion.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
This year was a real treat. I got taken to Brae and we stayed there overnight in their five star accommodation. It was very swanky and we had a Juno-free night thanks to my mum.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Having a little more confidence in my parenting skills. And worrying a good deal less about what other people thought of said skills. Juno is my baby therefore I know her best and I know what’s right for her.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Comfortable is a word that springs to mind.

34. What kept you sane?
Bike, bike, bike! Riding worked about 95% of the time. I’m a better person because of it.

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

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The American presidential election. It was like a car crash, I couldn’t look away and then we got the worst result possible.

37. Who did you miss?
Me? Is that an answer? It feels like I’ve spent of a lot of this year figuring out who I’m supposed to be now. Still working on it.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
I’m saying Juno again because she’s changed so much this year. Every developmental jump has changed her.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016
Toddlers are amazing little people. I love Juno’s lack of self-consciousness. If she wants to dance, she will. Everything is interesting to her and being with her is a reassessment in how to see the world.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I can never think of anything for this. Also, toddler brain!!

Two words

Chronic pain.

Not happy words. But that’s where I am right now with my shoulder. I’ve been to the surgeon and there’s nothing structurally wrong with my shoulder – it’s actually healed really well. I have a little bursitis but that’s about it.

I know that I was told repeatedly at the hospital that my arm would never be the same once it healed but I didn’t expect it to be like this either. I thought it might ache a bit in the cold and be weak initially but with some work it’d return to fairly close approximation of how it was before the accident. That’s so not what has happened. Nearly two years later and it still hurts. We’re not talking eight or nine on the pain scale, or even a five. We’re talking a one or two but it’s my constant companion. I have times where it doesn’t hurt at all which is nice but they are few and far between.

I guess I wasn’t helped by the fact that the accident happened at the worst possible time. Pregnancy and broken limbs definitely don’t go together. Especially broken limbs that need rehab to recover. I did do mild rehab while I was pregnant but in the end it was too much. I felt so physically overloaded by the end of my pregnancy that the idea of doing anything for arm felt like it was just too much. Guess I’m kinda paying for it now.

I think I’ve worked pretty hard with my physical therapy and I guess it’s worked because I have pretty good mobility. However, mobility doesn’t mean pain-free. I don’t want to be in pain for the rest of my life. (If my grandma is anything to go by, I’m going to be around for a while yet – she’s 98!!)

So now we’re into where to go from here? How do I learn to manage my pain?

I know chronic pain is caused by the brain’s plasticity. Provoke it into a pain response for long enough and your brain rewires itself into that being the default. Any movement, any position that your brain decides is wrong leads to a strong pain response. What fun! The pain can come on at totally random times and it can tip up into the high end of the scale. If you’ve ever noticed me with my eyes shut taking a few deep breaths, it because my shoulder is giving me a hard time at that moment.

I’m about to find out if I can rewire my brain back to how it was before. I figure that if it can wire itself into this position, it must be possible to undo it. The trick will be working out how. I’m starting with acupuncture and have an appointment with my GP in a week to see if there’s something I can take to suppress the pain in the short-term. The logic behind medication is to simply give my brain a break in the hope it’ll get the picture to quit it with pain messages. Also thinking some therapy wouldn’t go astray. Talking to someone about how to manage my pain is probably a good idea.

It’s been so long since the accident. I was undoubtedly naive in the thought that it would simply get better and go back to how is was but I didn’t expect it would be like this either.

Road to recovery

It feels like it’s been an eternity since my accident but sometimes it feels like hardly any time has passed at all. Life has been a bit busy I guess…

I’m not where I thought I would be. I think I had some idea that my shoulder would just get better and everything would go back to how it was before. I don’t know why I thought this when all the medical people I saw told me it’d never be 100% again. Still, the problem isn’t with my arm per say, it’s with my shoulder. Technically my shoulder wasn’t actually injured but it’s what has been completely and utterly screwed up.

I have reasonable mobility – no frozen shoulder for me – but it’s not great. When most people lift their arm above their head, their shoulder will stay down and stable. Mine doesn’t do this. When I lift my arm above my head (ignoring the fact that I can’t lift it the whole way), my shoulder rolls forwards and up. When I’m standing, you can see that I hold my shoulder more awkwardly than the other. It rolls forward but I can’t stop myself from doing it.

I’ve been doing clinical pilates twice a week since about June last year. It has helped. I am getting stronger but I know my arm is still so weak in comparison to what it used to be like. It’s so frustrating and so sloooooooooow. My shoulder can make some pretty terrible noises too. I often hear it grinding away and other times it makes a pretty horrible crunching sound. My physio has assured me that the crunchy noises are fixable as it’s just the joint playing up but it can still be pretty alarming.

The real concern is that I still have pain where the break is/was. It’s not constant but according to my physio I shouldn’t be experiencing any pain at all in that area. It could mean that I have bone spurs or calcification. So it looks like I need to see an oesteo surgeon. I, at least, need a scan to see if there’s anything going on with the break. The idea of tiny bits of bone floating around in my arm is more than a little disconcerting.

I guess I shouldn’t be complaining too much. At least my arm works. I can pick Juno up and carrying her around. It is hard though. She gets heavy for me pretty quickly and I have to either sit down or put her down. I wanted to use our carrier a lot but I can’t because it puts too much pressure on my shoulder. But soon we should be able to start putting Juno in it using the back carry (Juno back pack!!) so hopefully that’ll be easier for me.

I guess all I can do is keep moving forward. I feel I’m doing all I can to recover. It’ll take however long it’ll take.