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?

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?

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?

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:

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.

To my bike…

Just wanted to say thanks.

Thanks for being there when I was angry, upset or just plain peopled-out. You have always been a safe haven for me, a way for me to get out my aggression and frustration that’s healthy and much much better than taking it out on those I care about.

Thanks for the time to think, the time to be alone, the time to remind myself that I don’t have to be what everyone expects or perceives me to be.

Thanks for being a safety valve, a place to go when everything is getting to be too much and I can feel my emotions bubbling over and going to places I don’t want to go. Thanks for being something that I look forward to, a bright spark when all looked pretty dark around me.

But best of all, thanks for the joy and the pleasure that you bring into my life. I can be in the foulest mood but I know that time spent on my bike will fix all that. It’s so good to be able to reconnect with a younger, less troubled version of myself.

Thanks for the time spent out in the sunshine. And, to a lesser degree, in the rain. Thanks for reminding me that I happen to live in a pretty amazing country and that there is much to appreciate.

Sometimes the riding hurts so much but that’s more than made up by the times it comes so easy and I feel like I’m flying. It’s worth it – the tired heavy legs, the sore butt, aching back – it’s so worth it.

Time is just flying by

So hard to believe that my little baby is now two and a half. Juno is definitely not little nor a baby any more.

A lot has happened in the last six months.There have been two sets of grommets in her ears to help with her persistently blocked eardrums (first lot didn’t take and had to be removed). The change has been startling.

Physically she’s come on in leaps and bounds. She always seemed okay but I never noticed that she wouldn’t actually climb that much. At the playground she would stick to the easy stuff and avoid anything that required her to use her entire body. But that’s not the case now! Now she’s a little monkey and wants to climb stuff that’s way too big and hard for her and she has to be guided towards more appropriate things. Most toddlers are absolute klutzes so we put it down her disinterest in climbing to that rather than anything else but it appears we were wrong. She obviously had wonky balance so was reluctant to do too much physically.

Her speech is also coming along albeit far more slowly. We have two and three word sentences now which is good but there’s still a lot of babbling going as well. She had a hearing test about three months ago which showed a huge improvement from where she had been. Interestingly though, help – which she was saying clearly – has become pout or pelt. Not sure what’s going on there. I’m constantly saying help to her and she will repeat clearly but when she asks independently, it comes out as pelt. Eh… I’m sure it’ll resolve itself. We have an appointment with Juno’s speechie in two weeks so we can discuss it then.

I have to be more careful in what I’m saying as Juno now seems to hear everything and will often repeat what I’ve said. Um yeah, that’s not so good for someone who’s been known to swear like a trooper. Really don’t want her dropping the f-bomb at childcare. I think I might get questions about that.

Speaking of childcare… The other big event in Juno’s life is that her childcare centre moved into brand new purpose-build digs. The new centre is amazing. The old one was just that – old and very rundown so it’s wonderful to see the kids in a brand new environment with new toys and play areas. It’s also more convenient for me so I’m pretty happy about that, although I think I might be the only one.

I initially thought we might avoid the terrible twos but no, they struck with a vengeance about three months ago. She’s still a pretty calm little kid but when she loses her cool, wow does she lose it! It still baffles me that someone so small can make that much noise. Mostly we try to ignore them when we know she’s faking it but when she really loses it, the only thing to do is try to cuddle her until she calms down. Unfortunately food bribes also work but I only get that one out when I’m desperate. I’ve really learnt that that there’s no reasoning with a two year old who’s mid-tantrum. Sometimes nothing will work except letting her get it all out.

It’s amazing how quickly she is growing up. I’m not sure where the last two and a half years have gone.

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?