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Sunday, 6 January 2019

Favourite Quotes

Gotta love a good quote. A while ago, I read a list of the 100 top quotes by well known people and tried to narrow it down to my Top 10. Impossible. 

Managed to choose my fave 14 and then had to add one from Adam Ant, which is not really a quote it's a line from a song (Prince Charming), but I'm currently reading his book and it has led me down memory lane. Gotta love the 80's. "Don't you ever, don't you ever, lower yourself, forgetting all your standards" and "Silk or leather or a feather respect yourself and all of those around you." Same song, not my fave, wise words. 

And now to come up with my own.

And still a very fine looking man at 64!
Oprah Winfrey
"You become what you believe

Steve Jobs
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do."

Audrey Hepburn
"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, 'I’m possible!'"

Dalai Lama
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."

Jane Fonda
"It's never too late - never too late to start over, never too late to be happy."

John Lennon
"Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans."

Jack Nicholson  
“The minute that you’re not learning I believe you’re dead.”

Walt Disney
"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them."

Stevie Wonder 
"If you don't ask, you don't get."

Dr Seuss  
“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

Mae West 
"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."

Pablo Picasso
"Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone."

Oscar Wilde 
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."

George Eliot 
"It is never too late to be what you might have been."

Monday, 31 December 2018

Another year draws to a close

Time to farewell 2018. A year of ups and downs, highs and lows - life.

A quick review of the List for 2018 sees 53 out of 100 things ticked off. Some big, some small. A little bit disappointing - especially as I've had the last 7 weeks of freedom. But still, the aim is always 50%, so not a total failure.  And it makes for a good start for 2019's list!

Only 32 books read out of the proposed 50. That's one thing that not working has had an impact on. Funny how routine works.

New adventures to be had and what else will the year hold? No official job = new opportunities.

So with lots of spots on the 2019 list - what to add?

Friday, 7 December 2018

Four weeks since "Freedom Day"

So its been four weeks today since what I now call "Freedom Day" I can't believe how quickly time flies and how much is still on my to-do list (OK it's a never-ending list).  Bit bummed that I haven't been writing anyway near as much as I thought I would and those images of sitting in a cafe writing away are yet to materialise. Currently experiencing a couple of "too hot to do much but keep cool days" so staying in and catching up.

It's been a pretty hectic few weeks.  Someone foolishly asked me if I was "bored yet?" Bored? What a foreign concept that has become.  Never! Sure sometimes, motivation is a bit lacking and procrastination often gets the better of me, but bored isn't a word in my vocab anymore!

From Day 1, I decided that I was going to smile, say hello and chat to people in the neighbourhood. To date, nobody has rung the cops or had me committed.  Reactions are priceless.  Some people, just grunt and some don't respond at all (earphones in I tell myself - must learn sign language), but others smile and say hello and more often than not a few sentences follow.  Or in the case of the lovely Australia Post men putting in a new post box, 15 minutes.  Understandable, weekend rates, may as well chat to the local loony.

I've introduced myself to people on my walks with Lola (having a dog makes this much easier), stopped and chatted to random people everywhere.  And it doesn't stop there, I've joined a few local FB community groups and "virtual" chatting has even led to a coffee catch-up with a lovely local.  Getting involved with people in the community is fun - Lola on the other-hand is a bit exhausted with all the walking and socialising.

Can't say I've been going out on the road with Emi too often - other than dropping the other car off in the mornings (no sleep-ins for me or Lola) and the odd trip to Bunnings/Nurseries.  But I'm loving playing little Ms home-maker. "That's OK dear I'll do the dishes - you've had a long, hard day".  Feminists must be turning in their graves, but I love having a bit more time to potter (great word - today I'm pottering) around the house and in the garden.  Cooking skills have yet to improve, but I was particularly excited when I popped into the supermarket yesterday and found out that at 4pm each weekday they have a "clearance table."  Plenty of bargains to be had - all the GT team today has plenty of banana bread, cakes and peaches to keep them going. Gotta look out for these bargains now that I am unemployed/semi-retired/not working for $$$ or whatever this blissful state is called.

Talking of work, still haven't quiet figured out what I do want to do.  But what I don't want to do is becoming clearer by the minute and it doesn't involve an office in the city!  Have had a couple of appointments with my LHH consultant and enjoyed the full day Career Transition Workshop.  Lots of great suggestions and ideas that I'm using to work out what I would like to do.

One thing I loved, was that a couple of weeks ago it was pouring with rain, which made working for Emilio impossible. So we got to spend the day together. Did a few things, had lunch and went to see Bohemian Rhapsody in the middle of the day - on a Friday! Can't do that working in an office. Being a Queen fan, I loved the movie and Rami Malek does a superb job of playing the extraordinary Freddie Mercury.  I think Emi might have dozed off in parts.

Was rather excited to hear about the Mickey Mouse Exhibition on at the moment in Melbourne Central (until 28 January 2019) - probably more than someone my age should be.  So off I went to check it out.  Good thing the merchandise wasn't yet available, although I may or may not have purchased a Mickey notebook in Typo a few days later (it's an addiction, I can't stop).  Anyway, that wasn't on the list, but a visit to the Shot Tower Museum was. So in I went. The Coop's Shot Tower inside Melbourne Central was built back in 1889 and was the tallest building in the CBD until the mid 1940's. The free to enter small museum (access via R M Williams) explains how lead shots were made and has photos of Melbourne from days gone by.  A tick off the list.

Ah Mickey you're so fine 
The Shot Tower

Fed Square - love it or hate it?

Another tick, I finally did the Federation Square free tourThe Old Duck and I attempted this a few years back on our Ferris Bueller's Day off, but I recall we were waylaid by some rather tasty cocktails
and missed the start.  Only 4 of us on the tour and we set off with Glenn our guide for a wander and chat about the site's history, the architecture and some of its unique features.  Love the idea of the passive aircon system used, the fact that there are bee hives on the roof and 88 water tanks underneath. Tours run Monday to Saturday at 11am and run for an hour or so. You just turn up.

Mercer building in the distance 
Just this week have managed another 2 ticks. Played Tombstone Tourist on the Springvale Botanical Cemetery Tour I did (since writing about that, I remembered that a person who likes visiting cemeteries is called a Taphophile and not just a weirdo) and finally did The Edge at Eureka Skydeck. I had previously been to the Skydeck, but it was on an Amazing Race work thing, so no time to stop and look around.  So on Wednesday, having 90 minutes spare between appointments and being nearby, I thought, why not. Eureka Tower is 297.3m high and at the top can sway up to 30cm in each direction.  Must be interesting after a few glasses of bubbles.  Apparently two 300,000 litre water tanks on levels 90 and 91 stop any excess sway. Did The Edge (basically a glass cube that pushes out around 3m from the building, 285m up in the sky) with 3 other people - a lovely, terrified Texan and her "I'm so proud of you honey" hubby and a young visitor from Israel, who was rather intrigued that I was from Melbourne. In fact, I'm pretty sure that apart from those working there, I was the only local up there overlooking our fair city that morning.  I know this because I of course had to stop and chat. Not suffering from vertigo or having a particularly strong fear of heights it was fine. Loved the sound affects, Texan women, wasn't that thrilled by them.   Found looking over towards Docklands at my previous life's office building rather satisfying - mainly because I wasn't in it. Souvenir photo, exit through the gift shop - done - tick!

I've also re-done my First Aid course - so if you've been bitten by a snake, call 000, apply a pressure immobilisation bandage and keep still!  Actually it was fun (the course, not being bitten by a snake), we had scenarios with make-up and fake blood.

So between all that, catching up with friends for lunch/coffee going to Bendigo for a weekend, doing a fabulous Greenies Tour with Wayward Wanderers (more to follow), the past 4 weeks have flown.

Bored? No way.  And always make time for a siesta.

Always time for chocolate con churros

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Springvale Botanical Cemetery Tour

I have always had a bit of a fascination with cemeteries.  Not sure why, just find them interesting places.  Emi just thinks I'm weird.  Anyway, on Tuesday morning (4 December 2018) I went along on a free tour of Springvale Botanical Cemetery, as you do.  Small group, large bus and I was the youngest on board (I think). Doesn't happen often these days, so deserves a special mention. Off we went with our lovely and knowledgeable guide, historian Dr Celestina Sagazio.

It's said to be the most beautiful cemetery in Australia, and I can see why.  It really is stunning with over 30,000 rose bushes and more than 290 varieties. So if you want your ashes placed under a dusky pink rose with white edges, chances are you're in luck.  As well as roses, there are many other well maintained plants and over 80,000 trees including an old Red River Gum that's said to over 400 years old.

The cemetery, originally know as The Necropolis Springvale, was established in 1901. It covers an area of 422 acres (used to be bigger) and is Victoria's largest memorial park. The first burial was that of 7 month old baby Clarence Reardon, who died of whooping cough on 20 March 1902.  Sad.

Song He Yuan temple
Reflecting our multi-cultural background, there are resting areas for everyone.  The Song He Yuan Buddhist section has a temple built by Chinese Master Craftsmen and several pagodas. Extension is underway - time stops for no one.

There are sections covering many different religions and denominations and a viewing room in the crematorium to allow for Hindu's beliefs. The Jewish Metahar House (meaning 'cleansing or purifying') was built in 1940 and was the first denominational chapel. Interestingly, they place stones instead of flowers.

The children's lawn area is particularly touching, including an area called Bonny Babes for Stillborn babies.  There is a playground there and vibrant balloon sculptures to help create a welcoming place for young children, whilst family members take time to remember little angels.

Little angels resting in peace
Another section contains the Police Memorial listing the names of all who have died in the line of duty and there is an Australian War graves area. War graves all look the same because of the notion that in death, all are equal.

Grave sites come in all shapes and sizes. From the simple lawn burials to ornate tombstones (there is a model Ferrari on one and another with a stone helmet).  There are also 3 Mausoleums - the Rocco Surace, Luciano Rossetti and the new Saint Padre Pio.  Here bodies are embalmed and buried above ground.

Some other random facts I learnt:

1. The cemetery employs 50 gardeners
2. Burials in Melbourne are "forever"
3. Today, 70% are cremations and 30% burials
4. Following cremation, any metal is recycled and goes to the restoration trust
5. 2 large lakes host a number of birds and other wildlife and serve to reticulate the gardens
6. Ashes are not "scattered" but buried
7. One of the gardens is perfectly named the "Garden of No Distant Place"
8. Over at the new Bunurong Memorial park, natural burials are allowed where a shroud or cardboard box can be used.

Following our bus tour that lasted 90 minutes, we headed back to the Clarence Reardon centre that contains a cafe, florist, playground and many different function areas.  Lunch was provided whilst Julie, one of the customer care consultants spoke about the different burial options and how the cemetery operates.  The main message was to remind people to make a will and talk to family about your wishes. Death shouldn't be a taboo subject, after all, there is no escaping it.

So a tick off the list and now keen to do tours of some of our other cemeteries.  The night tour of Melbourne General Cemetery is supposed to be interesting. Weird? Not really.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Life is short do what you love

Number 1 on my list for 2018 was "get a job I love." The challenge, what did that look like?  All I was really sure of was that it wasn't where I was and wasn't where I saw myself in 1 years time, let alone to retirement.

So how do you go about working out what you love and once you've got that, how do you find your dream job?  Turns out it's not so easy. Sure, coming up with a list of all the things I love was easy, deciding on a job that combined those - not so much.  A writer, crocheting, stand-up comic that loves dogs, exploring, travel and hopes to live in a caravan, is a hard one to explain on the CV.

Breaking my ankle in February was a set-back, but when June came around, I was determined to find that dream job.  Applying for jobs that you are not fully qualified for is hard and there were a few rejections.  However, by September, I had decided that applying for jobs within my industry that were similar to what I was doing was definitely not a good idea, so I started looking into a few courses to expand my skills.

Now number 2 on my list for this year was "get retrenched" and here we are, a very big life-changing tick!  I didn't hate my job, and I worked with some great people, but I certainly didn't love it and my use-by date was definitely up.  A week has passed and I've had time to contemplate unemployment - I like it! The initial euphoria of freedom has settled, although I've still got a great big smile on my face.

I'm looking forward to going to my meeting with the outplacement service - maybe they can help me work out what I want to do and how to go about doing it.  For now, I'm enjoying the extra time to help Emi (Gardener's Touch), have a good clean out,  spending time with Lola, do some writing (although that has been a bit slow), go exploring and work out what next. I'm also very lucky to have the support of Emi.

I've got so many ideas running through my head, that last Tuesday I found myself panicking that I still don't have enough time to do everything I want to do!  Barista, RSA, First-Aid course and towing course all planned.  Learning more about sustainability and several ideas around that.  And hopefully lots of writing.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Birds of a Feather

Pick a subject each month, learn about it.  Seemed simple enough way back on the 1st July when I decided “Never Stop Learning” needed to be a thing.  Should have taken into account procrastination and time constraints.  So choosing to learn about birds in July (extended through to August, September and October) has been a long, drawn out effort.  Partly because there are a lot of birds (just to be clear here – I’m talking about the flapping, flying, feathered variety) and a lot to learn. But still, I now notice birds everywhere. Luckily whilst peering up into the tree tops I have only stumbled twice, stepped on dog poo once and have yet to have an eye plucked out by a kamikaze magpie. Win win.

Could I name the 20 most common around Melbourne, which was the challenge?  Yes, I probably could – although some of the little blighters are way too fast to check out their “wattles” and distinguish between Red, Yellow and Little Wattlebirds.  Yeah, yeah settle down. I know that Yellows are the big ones found in Tassie and here in Melbourne we get the Red and the Littles. And because I know you’re dying to know, the “wattle” is the coloured bits at the side of their necks.  Yellows have yellow wattles, Reds have red wattles and Little’s don’t have a wattle at all. Which kind of make’s the name Little Wattlebird a bit odd. But prior to July, I thought they were called Wattlebirds because they lived in Wattle Trees.

Anyway, after flicking through a few books and a half-hearted attempt at researching, I realised that this is not the sort of subject that you can just say done and dusted in a month!  Birding is a serious and popular past time.  I also discovered that I quiet enjoy identifying birds so maybe it can become a new found ongoing interest.  Still determined to at least say I’ve learnt something, I went along last Saturday 27 October to a Bird Walk at Cheltenham Park run by the very friendly and dedicated Friends of Native Wildlife. With binoculars hung around my neck, off we went. Now firstly I must say that I didn’t even know that Cheltenham Park Reserve existed.  Apart from sporting facilities and play grounds there are bushlands and several walking tracks – who knew!  Sadly, some of the bushland was decimated by fire last year. Arson was suspected, but certainly not by the residents resting peacefully at the Cheltenham Cemetery which runs alongside the park.

Our lovely guide Anne spoke about the birds we saw and answered questions. With her trusty bird App, we were able to see pictures up close and even listen to their calls. All very interesting and I learnt lots.  One thing I was amazed by is that here in Victoria we don’t have any crows!!  Those big, black, beady eyed birds are Ravens – Australian Ravens to be exact.  Or maybe the Little Raven. Which is similar to the Australian Raven, only, well Little. And because I’m now such a fountain of knowledge, I know that Ravens usually travel in pairs and have a wedge-shaped tail whereas crows are seen in larger groups and their tail is shaped like a fan. Their calls are different too.  If you’re a trivia buff, you’ll probably know that a “flock” of crows is called a “Murder” but did you know that a group of ravens is called an “unkindness” or “conspiracy”? Now you do – note for next trivia challenge.

Enjoyable morning and an interesting “bunch" of people. 

Going forward, my learn something new each month needs to be smaller and more doable.  I also realised that it should probably be in line with my goals.  So time to revisit the list and update.  And my November thing – “learn how to create picture quotes.”  
Australian Raven

Red Wattlebird

Backyard Chickens (nice butt Louise)

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Laughter Clubs

Like me, you've probably seen those weird gathering in parks with people standing around laughing and thought, that's just, well weird.  But then again, we all know that fabulous feeling when your eyes are watering, your sides ache from laughing and maybe, just maybe, there's been a little LBL.

So last Tuesday I found myself saying yes to my lovely neighbours invite to join her at laughter club.  Quick rundown, it was founded back in 1995 by an Indian Physician, Dr Madan Kararia with all of five people in an Indian park and now there are over 6,000 clubs across the world.  Laughter Clubs Victoria was founded in 2002 as a not-for-profit organisation and now has 41 clubs across the state where young and old are welcome to come along and laugh - for free!

Now we all know I fancy myself as a bit of a comedian, but I wasn't sure if we were supposed to tell jokes or what the deal was. Always up to trying new things and a bit of a giggle, I went in with an open mind not really knowing what to expect. 

There I was at the East Brighton Laughter Club (meets every Tuesday 6-7pm) limbered up and ready to get giggling. The class is led by Certified Laughter Yoga leaders - yep, you can get certified to "teach" laughter. No downward dog required, just lots of clapping and laughing with a bit of breathing and mindfulness thrown in for good measure.

Turns out laughing, even if you don't feel like laughing, can trick the brain into thinking happy thoughts and releasing those feel-good endorphins.  There is some truth then in the fake it till you make it idea. And studies do show that laughter helps with depression, decreases stress, increases your resistance to disease and those endorphins can even temporarily relieve pain. Something to think about next time you're in the dentist chair.

Did it feel good?  It actually did!  Just a fun hour spent not thinking about anything and switching off.  The cheeks hurt, and the knickers were dry - win win.  Sometimes it just feels good to be silly, and lets face it, I do that on a regular basis anyway.

Checkout a local laughter club - bound to be one near you.  Because lets face it, there could never be too much laughter in our lives.