Friday, 20 September 2019

[ yellow flags ]

With the newest season of The Bachelor having come to a close, there are any number of romance articles out there. How to keep them interested, where to go to spice things up, when they say one thing and mean another, how many calls a day is considered clingy (more than one, apparently, is a stage 5 clinger. That's me done then...).

My favourite is the mention of 'yellow flags'. Not quite as disturbing as their red cousins, yellow flags aren't complete deal breakers, but things that make you go...hmmm. As in, ok, we're not calling it quits over this, but I gotta be honest, that's pretty crazypants.

Obviously, this got me thinking. I might be getting back in the dating game myself, so it's good to reflect. And we all know what happens when I get thinking. You got it; it's list time! But I promise you, this is the real deal, and we're going to talk about stuff you should actually take a breath and consider. Stuff you should say; wait a sec, we might need to pause and take a breath here.

For those of you thinking that leaving the toilet seat up or not wiping the bench after making a sandwich are yellow flags, don't be mean. You're a slob too. Still gross, but not complete deal breakers.

Let's crack on...


1. Anyone who still smokes after the age of 30 should be right up there, tingling your Spidey sense as soon as the moment it presents itself.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia, and in 2010 it was estimated a staggering 81% of lung cancer deaths were caused by tobacco smoking.

So that got awful serious real quick, didn't it? Soz, but really; what kind of willpower does someone have if they can't give up smoking? Mainly because most people, most smokers, say they would love to give up.

So, if dear darling Freddie, who brings you flowers, takes you nice places, and has a good relationship with his mother, but can't seem to put down the gaspers - you might want to take a breath (literally) and reflect.

2. Speaking of good relationships; if she has a shitty relationship with her mother, you might want to know why. Is it years of estrangement, the old we've never really been close, or even, my personal favourite - she loves my sister/brother/the dog more?

Here's the thing; you're not a kid anymore. You are a grown adult, with thoughts and opinions of your own (if you're anything like me, LOTS of thoughts and opinions), and you have not only developed but maintained many interpersonal relationships over the years. It then beggars belief that you can't maintain some sort of beneficial familial bond, however superficial, with the persons who birthed and raised you.

Don't misunderstand me; there are exceptions to the rule. I'm not going to go through all the depressing details, but there are those of you who know what I'm talking about.

As for the rest of you, if you haven't called your father this week because he forgot you had to work late, or your mum didn't ask how the fight you were having with your partner over who did the washing last went, or, gods forbid, you weren't given dolls when you were a kid (girls or boys) - grow the fuck up.

One day, all their light and love and experience will be gone. All their recipes for the good cakes, all their old memories of the best times, all their years of knowledge on how to navigate the world; all this will be given back to the universe. It will disappear into the void, and you cannot get it back.

Pick up phone, ask how your their day was, and don't be such a self-involved, yellow-flag-waving, narcissistic tool.

3. Money is big flag of all different colours, from your standard amber to neon-scary red. Hopefully we can tell the difference between them, but here's a crash course if you're feeling unsure;

If he pays for dinner, but hasn't ever paid off a credit card debt in his lifetime, wonder why. If she can afford to go to Bali with her mates for 3 weeks, but can't manage to consistently pay rent on time, consider a breather in proceedings.

If anyone, ever, earns more than $60K a year and hasn't anyone but themselves to care for, but appears to spend money like they're supporting a small African nation, you may want to ask yourself if this person can afford to date you on a weekday, let alone a weekend or holiday period. Just saying.

4. If you reach the age of 30 and tell me you 'don't know' how to cook or parallel park, you're either a liar or an idiot. We've discussed this before; you don't have to like it, you just have to do it. This one can go from a flag of butter soft yellow to rage red in an instant.

5. Ditto eating your vegetables. Unless you're on the FODMAP diet, this is non-negotiable. No one is asking you to down Brussels sprouts (gag) like they're a foreign delicacy, but even yours truly gets her greens in a few times a week. And the next smartass who tells me that certain proteins can provide more nutrients than veggies can join Pete Evans in a long walk off a short pier (honestly, who gets grant money for these sorts of stupid studies??).

6. After a certain age, you figure out the kids question. For some of us that was younger than others, but the top limit for this is about 30. Anyone who says they 'don't know' if they want kids is kidding themselves, and you (see what I did there?).

There's the long-winded explanation of if you meet the right person / if the circumstances are right / if the planets align / etc. To be fair, this one can usually be considered plausible enough with a good delivery, but no one should be replying with 'dunno'.

To be honest, if anyone answers dunno to any serious life questions, let alone this one, upgrade; you can do better, and date someone with the courage of their convictions.

7. Here's a little test to see if someone can plan for the future; do they know what would happen if they got hit by a bus tomorrow? I'm aware that this has taken another serious, slightly morbid turn, but stay with me here.

Back to the gruesome bus incident. If you did get hit by a bus tomorrow, do you know what your health insurance covers you for? (If your initial response to that question was what's health insurance?, go immediately to the bottom of the class).

Next question; should the absolutely appalling actually happen, who gets all your stuff? (Hopefully you have at least some stuff, materially and financially, and if you have haven't - at all - I'm waving a little yellow flag in advance). Can your savings (yes, you should have some) pay off your debts? Will your family have piece of mind after you're gone? Do you want to be buried, burned, or do a weekend at Bernie's style send off? (Sorry, the alliteration worked a little too well there).

My point is this; what's your plan? Because you have to have one - if not for your sake, then for everyone else's. And if you do have one and your potential life partner doesn't...well.

Let's just put it this way; if someone can't manage the reasonably straight-forward task of allocating all their shit among their nearest and dearest, I'm not overly keen on them doing a grocery shop for me, let alone say, organising a holiday (what do we need travel insurance for again...?).

8. Saying no. This one seems simple, but the amount of people who can't do it will certainly give you pause.

Your boss tells you there's a 10am deadline for some work the following day. When faced with the dilemma of staying back late or going home, getting some rest and tackling it all early in the morning, what do you do?

Your best mate asks you to a dinner party with a few friends, his partner, and it's a week night. It's the only time you can all get together and chances are another gathering is months away. Is your answer an instant yes, a hesitant maybe, or a respectful no?

Whether they be catch-ups or special occasions, your Sister in Law  refuses to have visits anywhere but their house. It's a bit of a drive and you always bring a plate. You've made a variety of other suggestions, but she's having none of it. Xmas rolls around - what do you do?

Here's the thing; no isn't necessarily the right answer to any of these situations. But neither is yes. Life throws out the punches hard and fast, and we can only make decisions based on the information we have at the time.

In that regard, think about the above with some extra information; your boss goes on leave that very afternoon, and won't actually be in the office or checking emails for a fortnight. You and your bestie are actually catching up for breakfast later that week, and you're not really that friendly with anyone else invited to the dinner. You really don't get along with your SiL - and unlikely ever will - but you adore their 3 kids. All of whom are under the age of 5, and individually have more energy than a category 5 hurricane alone.

See what I'm getting at? Whether there's a flag here isn't necessarily a black or white question, but it is a matter of disposition.

If you read all those scenarios and didn't even consider saying no - without being an asshole - I'm waving the yellow flag like I just got offered a job at the Grand Prix.

9. This one relates superficially to the above point, but takes things in a different direction. In the past, I've dated a certain way and I'm sure many of you have too.

The first meeting happens, numbers get exchanged, and you're both all flushed with the bloom of new lust, if not quite love. The first date gets organised and it's a success (varying degrees for various people, but enough that you decide on a second date at least). The next date gets planned, and then the next. Introductions to family get talked about and organised. Surprise outings and trips away follow, maybe/probably even moving together. The usual timeline of relationship events, you get the picture.

I imagine most people aren't seeing much wrong with the above yet, but I'm sure some of you are asking the obvious question straight off the bat. Who, might we ask, is doing all this 'organising'?

And there it is. Who indeed. To be honest, I've been that person. You know the one; the one who organises everything, initiates everything, plans what and where and how. Some relationships do actually work like this. I've never been in one, but being fair, I have seen them and seen them be successful.

The yellow flag is someone who can't or won't. It's a sad state of affairs, but there it is. Someone can be the loveliest person you've ever met, but they couldn't organise the proverbial piss-up in a brewery, and that's an issue. No one person should be responsible for organising how a relationship runs, from where you eat to what furniture you buy to where you spend xmas holidays.

Because, to be absolutely clear, that person then isn't your partner; they are your mum. Savvy?

10. Astrophysicist vs. astrologist. Let's end on a giggle, shall we.

Can your beloved tell the difference between an astrophysicist and an astrologist?  What about a gynaecologist and a gastroenterologist? Lastly, how about an accountant and an actuary? (the last one stumps even me occasionally, and I have to push the synapses a bit).

Don't get me wrong here, this is not a question of intelligence. It's more common sense. You don't have to know what the words mean, but it's also best not to guess. It also displays how much you have in common with someone.

So if your partner thinks you craft witty shorts on what star signs are doing this week, and what you actually is this, maybe crack out the knitted yellow polyester and take a breather.


Saturday, 18 May 2019

[ choose me ]

Everyone goes into a new relationship with baggage. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. You take with you all the relationships that came before, your insecurities and quirks, your habits and hang ups.

And sometimes the baggage are things you can do nothing about, things that happened to you or have been with you forever, and no amount of self help can workshop them away.

How we deal with the collected works of years past is important. But how someone you love deals with it all, that's what makes or breaks a relationship.


As a couple, you try to build up a world of shared history; experiences and events that create your identity together, become the amour you use to face the everyday and take on every challenge as a unit.

If you work hard and you're lucky, the everyday demands of life, the slow plod of time, shape something amazing. It produces a tight-knit, living, loving thing that you can feel just being around your partner, as well as when you're apart.

Then, one day, it all unravels. If the strain of the past - of the things you carried alone - is too much for two, the strain will eventually start to show.

When you've lived with something so long, part and parcel of your intrinsic make-up, and no longer feel it as extra weight, it can come as a shock when someone else can't handle it.

What's worse is when you've built that world together, a fortress against anything and everything life can throw at you, and it turns out to be the enemy inside that defeats you both.


The feeling is different for everyone when it happens. Akin to having the bottom of the boat cave in and water start rushing in, once it starts, it's hard to stop. And all the shared history between you may not be able to shore up the breach.

At this point, your partner either chooses you or they choose themself. To be clear, neither choice is necessarily wrong. One of them just hurts more. 


You're always going to want them to choose you. Believe me, even when the relationship is dwindling, you still want someone to choose you. 

Because if they don't, it means everything you put in, all the things about you and of you, things you gave to the 'couple unit', don't mean as much as their reasons to leave.

And - this is the really hard bit to get your head around - these reasons, they say so much more about that person than they will ever say about you. 

Which is difficult to fathom, especially if things aren't dwindling. If they are perhaps, not amazing, but chugging along ok. 


When someone chooses their life choices over yours, over the choices you thought you were making together, it creates a chasm of doubt inside. 

Your rake over all the old chestnuts; was it this, was it that? What could I have done differently, said differently, been differently?

That's the rub, right there; it's not you, it's them. And not even in that horrible way that proves one of you is the bigger grown up. Just in the way that you invested more in the relationship than they did. You followed through more. You chose the life you built together over the life you could have had alone, and everything that came with that. 

You chose them. With all their faults and strengths, all the frustrations and joys. You chose them.


When you pull the relationship apart, dig around all the pieces of you both, who you were together and apart, it comes down to one thing. Among all the big and little things, the ones that really matter, and the ones that totally don't. 

In the end, they just didn't choose you. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

{ sugar after 8pm and other poor life choices }

Now that I'm in my later thirties, I've realised there are some days where my poor life choices cannot be as easily blanked out with a long sleep, two panadol, and half a litre of water as they used to.

It's the first week of January, and we're all feeling slightly unwell, bloated with chocolate, booze, rich food, and lack of sleep. So, don't mistake me here, I'm not going to berate you with all that new-years-resolution rubbish, but we could probably all take a moment to assess our priorities. You know, begin as we mean to go along, as it were. 

We haven't had a good list for a while and you know what a fan I am of those. Lest you think this is another list on how to be a grown-up because, well, we are's that too, but it's a also a list of flip-sides; things you can do instead that will make your previous choices fade away... Or at least slightly less stupid...


Sugar after 8pm (of course) 
For the better part of three weeks, our diets have all deteriorated into socially-acceptable breakfast treats, socially-acceptable lunch treats, then dinner treats.

Yours truly gave up the ghost entirely around the 15th December. I'd have a bowl of cornflakes with a coffee at breakfast, and there would be the last legitimately identifiable foodstuffs I'd eat for the day.

Caramel snows for elevenses matched with a fat chai latte, ham at lunch with Lindt, xmas nog and rocky-road for afternoon tea. Corn chips and cheese at 'dinner', followed by a gin cocktail and some pudding. Rinse, repeat. For weeks.

Now, I can barely look sideways at anything even vaguely dairy-related without feeling mildly queasy, so the next part is pretty easy for me. But, for those of you of the *never quit, ra-ra!* attitude and a constitution that takes just that little bit longer to drop off, you might want to consider your health now and get on the bandwagon, before your gut and your intestines band together and stage a revolt (think IBS and gastro - unpleasant and unattractive).

I can easily go cold-turkey, mainly due to aforementioned over-saturation at an early stage, but again, for the rest of you, start slow; stop eating sugar at night this week. Next week, stop eating it after 3pm, and the week after that stop at midday. And so on.

You will gurgle, you will feel bloated, you will be starving. A lot. However, by February, you'll be eating real food, less often, and, I kid you not, even enjoying it. Promise.


Drink enough water
This one seems pretty obvious, but flies right out the window from the first xmas party you are invited to, right up until you come back to work, find the coffee machine hasn't been refilled yet, and the only option really is just cold water.

To be fair, most of us do pretty well with this. The regular workday means you fill up your little drink bottle and sip sparingly but consistently throughout the day, only throwing caution to the wind when you pop off to the pub for drinks or out for dinner.

That being said, by the last week of work, where every second invite is a lunch meeting to connect with your colleagues or friends personally rather than just professionally, you're necking wine and spritzers like prohibition is coming back.

It's time to start the re-hydration routine, people. Not just because your liver will cry with relief or your skin will suddenly regain that glow not seen since sometime back in November. A lot because January is the most humid, vile month, and can suck the moisture out of a stone. You're already a festive desiccated husk as it is from all the booze, don't add insult to injury.


Sleeping and/or not sleeping
Some of us already have insomnia, so the holiday season is not a great time to mess with our sleep patterns, and as much as this one owes some credit to daylight savings (not a fan, personally), no one thing should get all the blame. 

By the second-last week of the year, you're staying up until 11 or later, waking up at 5, rolling over, waking up again at 8, then alternatively sleeping more or finally loafing out of bed. You're tired, but it's not the six chocolate frogs you ate last night, or the two margaritas with dinner (not helping though, just quietly).

It's because this is the third time you've done it this week, and your body is tired. Like, proper tired. Because the last time it had 6+ hours of consistent, restful sleep wasn't a few days ago, it was over a week ago. Maybe longer.  

Go to bed at 9pm. Read a book, listen to some chillout tunes, whatever. But, along with not scoffing the last of the Favourites in bed, stop dragging your bedtime out like you're still on holidays. 

We still have 'weekends' remember, it's not all goody-two-shoes all the time. 


Firstly, this is not about xmas presents. This is a special time of the year where you get to splurge and buy people whatever takes your fancy. Admittedly, this should probably still be within your means, but hopefully you've budgeted to go a bit nuts and can spoil your loved ones accordingly.

If, like me, you have OCD and bills got paid before the date stamp on the email changed from Today to a date, you've no worries. All expenses got covered and if you picked up something at the shops literally every time you walked past, you're sorted. Maybe curb that takeout impulse, but that's more to do with health than finance. 

For the rest of you, let's be clear; takeout and drinks three times a week isn't sustainable. New clothes, new shoes, hair appointments, spa treatments, and 'adventure' weekends only happen during the holidays for a reason. If it doesn't work for the other eleven months of the year, you might want to wonder why.  

If you can't top up your Opal, buy shampoo, or pay your phone bill, you're broke. Take the $600 shoes back to the store and make like a grown-up. 


Last, but by no means least, cleaning. All the cleaning. Seriously.

I'm lucky in this regard, as lá mama has instilled the houseproud gene in me, meaning I clean up after myself, but also clean-as-you-go, and various seasonal cleanings (Spring etc.).

That being said, holidays + heat + treats making me sluggish = so much laziness. I can't be bothered making my bed, let alone doing washing. It doesn't fall off the edge entirely, but it stutters throughout the season, with no real pattern.

Apart from being a bit gross, this is also bad for your health. Between not cleaning your house, to not cleaning yourself, we all need to get a grip. Bugs like it when you get lazy; let's stop being lazy!

Sweep some floors, wipe some benches, change some sheets. If you've been spreading out your hair washes to weekly, give it up. There's no sea breeze in the office, so it's not going to hold anyway. Clean out the fridge already; eating leftovers is counter-productive to the process, and if you can't quite recall what it is, you shouldn't be ingesting it anyway.

Quite apart from the physical benefits of a good clean, the mental benefits can't be ignored either. A clean house, a clean body, a clean slate; they all give you that warm and fuzzy feeling of achievement, no matter how tenuous, that kick-starts motivation.

We may not be able to muster the ra-ra, go-getter attitude of an end-of-financial year party, but we can certainly give it a red-hot go.


Totally understand we're all still on beach-time, in holiday mode, and barely able to function at the moment, but we're good at this - we've been doing it for years. 

So, in the spirit of good faith and knowing we are all in this together - pick up that water bottle. Put down that Ferrero Rocher. Smile like the thought of 6am and a salad is actually brilliant, and adulting is fun. 

And just remember, if all else fails, as this age, we're waaay better at the old fake it until you make it. Just ask me in February.