Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Somewhat Of A Breakthrough

I've mentioned my weight loss journey more than a few times recently, and things have been progressing pretty well, but in the past few weeks I haven't lost any significant amount of weight. I've been going out for dinner, having a few nights on the beers with Peter and other friends, and although (reassuringly) I didn't gain anything I haven't really lost anything either. (Although as I mentioned the other day, I did just recently go down a trouser size.) I've been bouncing between a narrow window of around 70.2kgs and 70.6kgs on average.

69.7kgs this morning. Awwwwwrighty then!

I upped the exercise this week, walking the 40 minutes walk to home from work, and watched the diet a bit more closely, and I'm over the magic 70kgs hurdle. My goal is 68kgs, so this puts me a bit closer. I'm in the 60's! This weekend is Birthday Weekend, so I'm expecting a bit of an eatfest and not much of a loss (if any) over next week, but if I can just keep on chipping away at it then it's all good.

Swimsuit weather is just around the corner, so the less wibble the better.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Snippets

Today I'm mixing it up a little. If you've read this blog for even a little while (like, er, since last Wednesday in fact) you'll know that I love my lists of 5 Things. Love! Them! I could write you a list of 5 things I love about 5 Things. But today I'm gettin' loose. I'm throwing out the rules! No loose themes for today. And why only 5 things anyway? 5's not the boss of me. I'm too wild for those sorts of rules, man.

So today is all about the the snippet.

It's official, my work has been extended past my finish date of 9th September, and I'll now be putting food on the table, and buying reasonably priced clothing from a certain large Spanish retailer with which I am borderline obsessed, until the end of October. Yay. It means a relocation to another part of the University, where the largely male workforce wear rugged 'workwear' and lift heavy electronic things, which you know can't be all bad, right?

Next weekend is Birthday Weekend, and the best gift of all is that Peter has the entire weekend free of work commitments. You know how there are some gifts you just can't wait to unwrap?

I've gone down another trouser size, and now fit into the two pairs of Aspirational Trousers that have been quietly judging me from the darkest recess of the wardrobe. One pair has never been worn, and still had the price tag on them. (They were aspirational even when I bought them, on sale, a few years back.) See hoarders, never throw anything away.

I read a report in the paper today that said sitting at a desk all day is as bad for your health as smoking is. It raises interesting questions about the outdoor 'ciggie break'. Clearly some of my co-workers, who are never at their desks and favour the long, languid smoke-o vs the quick nip outside for a gasper, are actually just looking after their health. It's a world gone mad.

Spring is in the air. I bought fresh flowers for the house the other day. My sweet pea plants that I planted in Winter and which have been growing at a slacker's pace have suddenly started a growing spurt. Short pants. Jacket free days. Hallelujah!

[Oh crap, that's 5 isn't it?]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

5 Things About Wednesday, 24th August: Cube Farm Edition

  • The crushing disappointment of finishing your trip into the office, sitting down at your desk, and lifting the lid on your coffee... to find the normally reliable cafe (which every morning remembers both your name and your order) has given you the wrong coffee.
  • Then finding the silver lining in the form of an opportunity to suck up to the boss, who likes a free cappucino very much indeed, as it turns out.
  • I sit a glass panel and narrow walkway away from the staff break room, and fyi the tech guys in our area take the longest breaks, have the filthiest mouths, and the dullest anecdotes.
  • I work in a very multicultural office, and from about 11.30am until around 3pm it's a constant parade of delicious Thai/Chinese/Indian/Middle Eastern smells. Even the Aussie guy who regularly makes toasted cheese sandwiches in the sandwich press manages to make it smell yummers, but maybe that's just my diet talking.
  • It's working again today (hello, web surfing) but yesterday our intranet web server crashed, which meant that all the software applications I use (all of which are web based) were offline. I filed. I tidied. I looked out the window. I made lists. I washed my mug, twice. I've had marginally more productive days.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Positive Effort

In an introspective moment this morning it struck me how grateful I am for the changes that my life has gone through this year. As painful as the start of the year was, with work dramas and depression, the complete 180 degree turn around since then has been incredible. I feel healthy, happy, and most importantly I feel excited about the future. Considering that I was struggling to see any kind of positive future earlier in the year makes this feel kind of like a miracle.

And the most important thing is that I'm actually really proud of myself and that I've made this happen.

It's kind of weird to write that because bragging, tooting one's own horn (call it what you will), is something I can be kind of scathing about. But credit where credit is due, and I'm proud of the effort I've put in to move my life in a positive direction and so grateful of the fact that the effort has paid off.

One of the toughest things to get a handle on was my health. When I hit rock bottom in terms of how I was feeling physically and mentally I had hit 82.7kgs (182lbs). My blood pressure and cholesterol were high, my skin was in a constant Rosacea break out, and I was miserable about how I looked and felt. Tying my shoelaces, walking up stairs, catching an accidental sideways reflection in a store mirror, were all excercises that reflected physical and emotional shortcomings. I felt middle aged, fat and unhealthy. I wasn't huge, I don't want to overstate the situation here, but as a real shorty I had developed a pretty impressive belly and set of man boobs.

After being unemployed for about 5 weeks, feeling pretty low and about to become very broke, one morning I stuck out my chin and decided that I had to get a grip on things. I dug my heels in, dug out my old Weight Watchers points/calorie guides, went to the supermarket and bought a basket full of healthier food choices, and knuckled down for the fight. This was one thing I could control, even if the rest of my life felt like it was on the downhill slope.

In the first week I weighed myself and the numbers were good. I had achieved something positive, and I instantly felt better about myself. That for me is a really important lesson about depression too, when you feel frozen, stalled, you just have to achieve something that feels difficult. Do the dishes. Shower and get dressed. Go for a long walk. Something that you don't have the motivation to do, but is a goal that you can measure, big or small. As Peter (my beautiful new boyfriend for those of you tuning in late, but more on him later) would say, you just have to keep moving.

So, a new job arrived about this time. It's a temp contract but my team and I get along well, sometimes the work is a bit dull, but most importantly my effort is really appreciated. The stress is low, the pay is pretty good, and although it doesn't lead off into the distance as something permanent it's just fine for now. My stay has already been extended twice and I know that they want to keep me as long as they are possibly able.

The more things started to move, the better I felt. I stuck to my guns with the weight loss, and once I was in that feedback loop of effort and results it got easier and easier, to the point where as I write this I'm 70.1kgs (154lbs), and not too many kilos away from where I ultimately want to settle. Work is ticking along fine, and it now looks like my contract will be extended to the end of October. Even if that falls through, I feel confident that something else will come along.

Then one night last month a handsome young man who was tending bar started flirting with me, and after a few beers and a couple of hours of conversation over the bar I gave him my number. That was a big step for me, I'm very sociable but I don't always have a lot of confidence. I've dated plenty of guys, but I'm always surprised when somebody finds me attractive. I can be gregarious when I'm comfortable, but can also feel very shy. That night I was in a good mood, feeling pretty confident and upbeat, and Peter's natural friendliness and kindness put me at ease straight away.

We clicked immediately and praise be we continue to keep clicking. He's the most open, warm and funny person I could ever have hoped to meet, and we really get each other. It feels effortless, but even in that I can see the positive effort that we are both bringing to the table. There is effort involved in throwing caution to the wind, in making yourself open and trusting someone with all your vulnerabilities and your strengths. We both share a very similar moral compass, and in that I mean we see the world in very similar ways and have similar ethics even though our life experiences have been quite different.

So this entry is about counting my blessings, about reaffirming all that is positive in my life, and especially acknowledging that along the way I've had to make hundreds of little decisions and hundreds of little actions that have moved things along in the right direction. Chance has played a role too, but making decisions to grasp opportunities as they present themselves has been just as important. What a year it has been so far, and how excited I am to see what will happen next! And that is most definitely a 180 degree turn for the better.

It's About Time

First Blossom

The first blossom I've seen this year. And because I love the word, could this be the harbinger of Spring? After the cold, wet Winter we've had I freakin' well hope so.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lazyass Laziness

I like the word "indolence." It makes my laziness seem classy.
~Bern Williams

I'd like to pretend that I woke up at 6.30 this morning because I'm a person who gets things done, who has cleaned the kitchen and other Herculean tasks before homemade croissants and coffee for breakfast, but essentially I just moved from the bed to the couch and have been here ever since.

But I did make coffee.

And not from a jar.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Return To Form

A couple of weeks ago I remembered that I still had an unsused gift voucher for the gay bookstore The Bookshop Darlinghurst that I had received as a birthday gift last year. And given that my next birthday is not all that far away (start saving now) and these things have an expiry on them, I should probably get into action and spend that sucker. So on a Saturday trip into the once bright and shiny gay mecca Oxford St (now sadly a tarnished and half shuttered shadow of its former self) I popped into the store and spotted a hardcover edition of the eighth Tales of the City novel by Armistead Maupin "Mary Ann in Autumn".

I had been a bit ho hum about buying it when it was first released because I was really, really disappointed by the previous book in the series "Michael Tolliver Lives". Ugh, that book nearly killed the whole series for me I disliked it so much. I feel like I need to go back and reread it at some point though, just to see if the scorn I've heaped on it since is still justified. At the time it felt like the mean spirited odd one out in the series, with some of the characters I had loved so much over the decades being cast as horrible middle aged versions of themselves.

Anyhoo, after I read some reviews that basically said this new book was the addition to the Tales series that we had hoped the previous one was going to be, I was more willing to give it a shot. (Truth be told I probably would have bought it anyway, even if it was just to see if I could throw it further than I had lobbed "Michael Tolliver Lives". But I would have gone for the paperback version, for aerodynamic comparison sakes.) And it was reduced, and it was now priced at the exact same value as my voucher. Sold!

And I devoured it in a few days, like I used to with the others in the series, and I really enjoyed it. The characters that had such a harsh eye cast on them in the previous book were a little more like the characters I had come to love. Older, some a little sadder, and less joyful than their earliest incarnations but still recognisable. The characters have aged along with the publication dates of the books, but this time I think it was handled better. The titular character of Mary Ann in particular seemed to be mostly back in Maupin's good books, after the horrible version of her that made its way into the previous book. I couldn't help but feel that Maupin had betrayed her somehow then. She was always the most complex character in the books, and I think that is just better handled here. The style of changing first person narratives, and the fun elements like the crazy coincidences that tie various plot threads together are all here too, and thank heavens for that.

If I'd thrown a hardback I might really have done some damage.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Rallying Cry

Peter and I got to spend an entire weekend together this past weekend, which considering the barely intersecting work schedules that we have was a rare and precious gem of a treat. After a larger than anticipated night on Friday night where we both sank more beers than is feasible (apparently at 3am I put my foot down with a masterful "bed!", as Peter tells it), Saturday morning was understandably a bit of a slow start. A slow, headachey start.

Marriage Equality Rally

Getting out of bed involved cajoling, bargaining and a few implied threats... and that was just me to me. There was a marriage equality rally at 1pm on Saturday and it was really important for me, for us both actually, to attend and show that it was a cause that we supported. Peter and I both believe in the concept of marriage, and I know it's not important to a lot of gay people but I think just being able to have the choice available is important.

Marriage Equality Rally

The rally was well attended, and we were glad to have gone and added our participation to the cause, but hard to hear speakers meant that we decided to take off after trying to hear our fourth or fifth speaker. Not before we got filmed cuddling by a film crew that is, but I forgot to ask them who they were so I still don't know if we made it onto the evening news!

Marriage Equality Rally

After the rally we walked down to Ultimo to have a swim at the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre. Unfortunately the main lap pool was really cold, so after I pushed through three quarters of a punishingly cold lap, Peter and I headed to the highly warmed kid's pool. Even though it was only part of a lap, I could tell right from the first stroke that losing the 12.2kgs I've already lost was making a huge difference. It certainly made me want to get back into swimming in a bigger way once the weather (and water) starts to take a turn for the warmer.

Marriage Equality Rally

So after a quiet Saturday night, Peter and I spent Sunday morning at the Marrickville Organic Food Markets with my friend Judy. Veggies were bought, dumplings were eaten and coffee drunk, and Peter bought me a lovely gift of a wallhanging with a Buddhist quote on it that we then hung above my bed. Peter and Judy took to each other immediately, which I thought would be the case as they are both very special, smart and funny people.


The rest of the afternoon was spent just the two of us, having lunch, strolling through Newtown and Erskineville, and then a few beers at the latest (temporary) incarnation of my old favourite watering hole The Newtown Hotel. Or, Freaky Tiki as it is now known. On a Sunday afternoon there were just a few of us in there, some locals and some very friendly staff, and thankfully not the crowds of hipsters that the place has become (in)famous for.


Rounding off the weekend with a quiet night in, cooking dinner and watching some tv, was a perfect end to a perfect weekend. Lots of time spent just enjoying being with each other, talking, holding hands and lots and lots of laughter. Lots of laughter, and I think that's possibly the most important connection of all.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

A Walk Through Enmore

I'm having a lazy sort of day today. Sydney is being treated to an unseasonal blast of Spring/Summer weather, and I have the day to myself as my beautiful paramour Peter is home sleeping after working a late night shift last night. I decided a lazy day was on the cards because I'm going out tonight to a big leather themed dance party, and so conserving energy and some later afternoon napping were the two priorities. I had a few minor errands to run, so I grabbed the camera and went for a walk in the sun through Enmore.



Go back through this blog, or my flickr photostream and I guarantee without fail there will be annual Magnolia photos. Bigger men than me have tried, so who am I to fight the power of the Magnolia?

Crochet Garden

Crochet Garden

I thought this yarn bombed old telegraph pole was charmingly done. Not just "Let's wrap this in a piece or knitting/crochet" but a bit more thought had been put into making it pretty.


But don't stop there, because telecomms switching box thingies need some love and pretty too.

Cwtching Time

And just a couple of houses down from the yarn bombed telephone pole this little someone came over for a cwtch*.

Once the cwtching was done, I ran my errands and then strolled home through the glorious sunshine. I even got a couple of texts and a loving call from the boy, before he turned in to catch some zzzzzs before he heads to work this evening. All in all a pretty glorious afternoon.

* For some reason, despite being 50/50 Scottish and English in our house ever since I can remember my family usually always used the Welsh word cwtch in relation to the necessary and important cuddling of animals.

Postscript: Here's a sampling of past Magnolia Madness.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Date Nights

Peter and I are on very different work schedules, while I do a 35hr week 8.30-4 office job these days Peter's work has him on a variety of rotating shifts with quite a bit of evening work. Much of the time Peter's 'weekend' in Wednesday and Thursday, as it was this week. So last night we caught up with my friend David, who was in town for the evening from Newcastle, for dinner and some beers. David is likewise in the first flushes of a new romance, so much of last night was given over to all three of us talking excitedly about what the future holds.

On account of Peter's shifts he's often at home while I'm at work, so the day is peppered with lots of sweet text messages and emails backwards and forwards. One of his emails yesterday contained a link to a newspaper story about a feature length documentary movie showing in cinemas for one week only, starting tonight.

Kylie Minogue's "Aphrodite: Les Folies" concert. IN 3D.

Now not only can you love each sparkle, and each spangle, but you can practically reach out and touch the bouncing pecs on the dancing boys!

So I jumped online and bought tickets, and Peter and I have a date tonight with Ms Minogue (and a cinema full of very excited gay boys, no doubt).

Monday, August 01, 2011

5 Things About The Weekend That Was: Unclenching & Unfurling Edition

  • Spring is a whole month away yet, but the weekend was mild and glorious here in Sydney. It's only a teaser trailer, because in August we usually get a last blast of cold and wet, but it reinforced just how much I am absolutely gagging for the warmth.
  • I had to grab the camera and go for a walk in the sunshine yesterday afternoon. I admire people whose photography is all about beautiful shadows, darkness and moodiness, but I'm most inspired by light and colour.
  • When I was depressed earlier in the year I pretty much stopped taking photographs altogether, and maybe it's because I needed to be able to open myself up to seeing all the colour and the light again.
  • It's official and agreed upon, I have a boyfriend. I even changed my facebook status, which prompted one friend to comment "Wow, it IS serious."
  • On Saturday morning Peter and I were sitting at a cafe in the sunshine, drinking coffee, chatting and watching dogs play in the sun, and I was stroking his back and the thought that entered my head was "my heart is full". What a curious old year it's been. From feeling like my poor little wounded heart was a clenched fist in my chest, to feeling it slowly unclench and open up to the point where I made room for someone else. I had to do it, I worked at it, and it feels like quite the achievement.