Why I’m Walking for Lifehouse

A healthy life not utilised, is wasted. 

Unhealthy is much more fun…

Until you’ve heard the words ‘It’s cancer’ from the mouths of family or friends.

Then healthy becomes the only thing you care about.

Three out of the five members of my immediate family have survived The Big C.

Selfishly, I’m doing the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse 28km Walk with Lifehouse Coastal Trek later this month because I’m an inaugural member of an amazing group of humans called Lyndal’s Pink Gems who also share a tenuous relationship with Cancer.

We’ve been ‘in training’ now for a couple of months (in between life’s many distractions).

We’re hoping to complete the course in about 5 hours or so, but we’re not as interested in time taken, as we are in time spent. Together.

My team: Lyndal’s Pink Gems

Captains extraordinaire Christie and JA will ensure everyone is together and supported as needs arise.

Jodie’s handbag will contain the essentials, and while a few will be orienting themselves with a camelbak for the first time, all will be focused on propelling each other towards successful conquering of an unknown terrain with a smile and a strong sense of purpose.

Much like everyone’s journey with The Big C.

We won’t have our wonderful support crew by our side on this particular venture, but we will have each other and that means more wonderful and memorable moments made and shared.

We do have 28 kilometres of Royal National Park to cover afterall!

Warning: This is where I ask you for your loose change

So….if you are able to support an amazing group of humans at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse treat people, not just cancer, please help us raise funds by DONATING HERE 

Every dollar makes sense.

What’s the true cost of Marriage Equality?

magda-and-ahnThis is one of the best interviews I’ve ever seen.

Great depth in storytelling, empathy with subject and not surprisingly, it got me thinking…

What does it cost to enable people who love each other to marry?

Rightly or Wrongly: Judgement is a human and societal default 

Modern western society judges a woman’s worth by two things:

  1. her ability to get married
  2. her production of offspring.

I’d like to say this isn’t the case, but as a woman who lived her first 40 years as single and baron, this has been my experience.

However, from the moment I was carried across the proverbial threshold and married, people treated me differently.

It was somehow like I’d finally hit my straps and was now ‘a success’.

Even my family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances seemed to breathe a subconscious sigh of relief . A 20 year career was nice, but irrelevant. What about kids?

It is for this reason I don’t participate in public declarations of wedded and family bliss.

If I get anything that asks me to publicly promote the perfect happiness of married life (what I use to call smug married couples) or life as a perfectly happy parent, I ignore it.

When declarations of love are that important, I like to keep them private, because I know what a privilege they truly are.

As a sign of respect for my friends and the other members of our society who are denied the life changing, socially liberating institutions of marriage and parenthood, I refrain.

While Mother Nature plays her part in determining the path to parenthood, marriage is freely available for all … men who love women and vice versa.

So why do we as a progressive society flatly deny same sex couples, the same privilege?.

Gay, lesbian, bi, trans and queer (GLBTQ*) members of our society can have a commitment ceremony. Which as luck would have it, is also available for heterosexual couples as well and increasingly the preference for couples.

But why do we value men who sleep with women, over people who identify with other sexual orientations?

And what is the cost to society if we were to open the option of choice to GLBTQ members in our society?

This is probably where we learn from historical debates on the value of social inclusion:

  • What’s the cost of giving women the vote?
  • What’s the cost of including indigenous Australians on the census?
  • What’s the cost of giving indigenous Australians the vote?

Magda.png

She doesn’t say it, but Magda was psychologically victimised as a child by both legislators and society by not being exposed to ‘her normal’.

Keep in mind, being gay in Australia in the 70’s was considered a mental illness, conflated with paedophelia and downright illegal.

Ironically, the same public who proudly lauded her brilliance and celebrated her public successes include the legislators who continue to restrict her freedoms.

How many other children have been (and continue to be) victimised by our ‘societal norms’? What is normal anyway?

What is the real cost of enabling people who love each other to enjoy the priviledge of the institution of marriage?

Being respectful of others doesn’t cost us a thing. Judgement costs both sides.

Why are we legislating who someone can officially marry based on sex? Shall we try doing it on eye colour too? It’s just as ridiculous.

Same sex marriage doesn’t ruin the moral fibre of a society, it enables it.

Who are we not to support ALL our children by providing them with the range of norms to truly represent the diversity of persons and persuasions in our community?

The Anglican church doesn’t have a problem with same sex marriage.

The Catholic church I’m not sure about, but how can they? The whole premise of a priest’s commitment to God, sees him married to a man.

Governments should not legislate love. They should nurture generation now and next, by acknowledging diversity and not regurgitating the stereotypes of yesteryear.

Nothing founded in ignorance and constructed to promote an ideal rather than reality enables anything but judgement.

Thank you Magda for being so eloquent in both your observations and intent.

To any rationally thinking legislator, marriage equality is a no brainer.

To those who feel the need to debate the pros and cons, to research and formally report findings: your process driven approach while well intentioned, is still robbing fellow Australian’s of their civil rights.

Why are you better, more moral or normal than anyone else?

I look forward to the day that every Australian has the option to be married.

#DontLegislateNature #NurtureRespect

 

*I hope I have used the correct terminology. If I haven’t, please let me know via Twitter @TiffannyJunee or in the comments section below

Embarrassing Bodies

My husband is head chef in our house.

During my pregnancy, I ate like the Wallaby tight five during the off season.

The first three months after our daughter was born, I was breastfeeding (or expressing) every couple of hours. Not surprisingly, my appetite was nothing short of voracious.

Somewhere between three and four months, we organically reverted to a ‘working day’ routine, which meant I began to breastfeed in the morning and then again in the evening, introducing Mother Formula for the other feeds.

Neither my husband nor I have ever bothered engaging in any of the stress-filled ‘to formula or not to formula’ debates that can put the most confident of new parents into a state of flux.

Our approach has served us (or at least our new parent sanity) well, but we’ve also developed a team of trusted advisors along the way.

So true to form, we followed the recommendations of our midwife re: best baby formula to use and haven’t looked back.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I’d looked ‘back’ at any time prior to our annual trip to the skin cancer clinic.

As we’re both in our 40’s and we’ve always been ‘outdoorsy’ types, an annual skin check is a must. Thankfully, neither one of us has ever had any cause for concern during these visits…until this week.

However, it wasn’t the ‘flaking paint’ the doctor froze off my forehead and nose in six different spots that concerned me.

It was disrobing.

You see, on my last visit, I’d been fit and fabulous.

And while after having bub, I was actually the trimmest I’d ever been – thanks to the physics of breastfeeding, over the last month or so, I have not only developed ‘the mummy (leg) wobble’, but also a post natal paunch to rival the sturdiest of marsupials.

So there I was, topless and in my best granny undies, when I felt compelled to reflect (and correct myself) on when my thighs had turned into unstable tree trunks, and my tummy had developed a certain ‘dough’ quality to it.

While there’s nothing quite like pregnancy to suck the elasticity out of your skin, the reality was a lot less exciting.

Irrespective of whether you’ve just given birth, or never given birth, you are what you eat.

And never was that truer than now when I had to admit to myself, that despite dropping to only 3 or 4 feeds a day, I was still eating like I had been when I was feeding bub 10 – 12 times a day.

I don’t eat junk food or drink soft drinks. I am gluten and dairy free and since falling pregnant (and while breastfeeding) now caffeine free (which is a lot harder for a chocoholic than it should be).

What I have been doing however, is eating a plate full of food at each meal and going back for seconds or thirds.

While it is a testament to my husband’s amazing culinary efforts, inspite of the home cooked, low-fat meals prepared for my dining pleasure, overeating I had to admit, had become the norm, rather than the exception to my daily behaviour.

I really hate thinking, let alone talking about not being happy with my body.

I’ve seen too many young women struggle with body image and the physical, emotional and psychological effects of eating disorders.

However, there comes a time in every woman’s life when you have to stop, reflect (honestly) and decide to reprogram bad habits into a positive move towards being the best possible version of yourself.

So this weekend, I took control. I had to.

I’m blessed with great genes, but they’re of the athletic variety and unless you’re moving and eating lean, they’re of little benefit when you’re carb loading for the fun of it.

So far, so good.

Although, consciously monitoring my number of portions has been proving a little harder than it should have been. I’ve already learnt how to ignore my tummy as it grumbles in disgust.

Remember: I’m not doing this to be skinny. I’m doing this to feel healthy again, after consciously changing my eating habits from nurturing two back to one.

It’s not a quick fix. It’s a conscious effort over time.

Wish me luck! 🙂

 

Even going to the footy has changed.

Today I took my daughter to her first rugby match.

The annual local ANZAC day derby between Easts and Randwick down at Coogee Oval – the home of the best known Australian club in the rugby world.

I grew up on the sidelines of football fields all over New South Wales, but until today had never realised how dangerous the rugby pitch and surrounds truly is.

  • Kids honing their skills in between the grandstands
  • Smokers puffing away on the hill
  • Swinging shoulder bags; and
  • Snow storms.

Today, I went as a new mum, with my precious bundle of new bub  – well 4 month old).

Determined to maintain some level of fitness, we walked down to Coogee and enjoyed the warmth of the winter sun.

It was only while standing on the sidelines, that we watched the black clouds start rolling in.

Making the conscious decision to get moving before the skies opened, as we started up the hill my husband and I debated whether we had enough time to make it before the rain set in.

We only managed a few 100 metres when the largest drops of rain foretold the story of saturation for all if we continued with our folly.

Needless to say, we made a beeline for our favourite trusty cafe – Tropicana to sit this one out.

Having settled us in, DH (Darling Husband) set off for home to get the car – our only real option unless we wanted to stay overnight at the cafe – in the now blackened skies (despite it being before 5pm) and torrential rain.

An hour and a half later, my husband pulled the car up in front of the cafe with ‘snow’ blanketing the roof.

This was Coogee, not Cortina!

Admittedly, this wasn’t your typical day out to the rugby, but it did highlight some keys ‘must haves’ for going out, for no matter how long.

  1. Things change, so be prepared – we didn’t have an all weather protector for the pram with us. Rendering it useless for all intents and purposes once the weather set in.
  2. Have a plan B and plan C – always. It’s easier in the long run.
  3. Always have $20 for an emergency in the bottom of your pram – you’ll thank yourself for it one day
  4. Surrender to the fact – your schedule is now fluid. It just takes the stress out of everything.
  5. Always have spare formula/food on hand – I was lucky because I was breastfeeding, so that essentially made bub the easiest part of the scenario.
  6. When you go to the local footy game – keep bub in the pram, with the cover up and you’ll reduce your stress by about 1000%! 🙂

 

 

 

Eat, Exercise and Abstain: Introducing the Witches of Woe

Patience is a virtue, but sadly not one of mine when it came to starting a family.

I turned my husband into my dietician and personal trainer, I started picking the brains of doctors, specialists, and sourcing insights from friends and acquaintances.

So I know we are truly blessed we were able to conceive, especially considering we are both in our fabulous forties.

Which is why, like most first time mums, as soon as I realised I was pregnant, I started reading…

Subsequently, my diet continued along the path that would best give my body the ability to concentrate on nourishing our little egg into a healthy bub.

From the research my husband and I conducted, we surmised that rather than fighting to function against preservatives and other hidden hinderances, we would focus on nurturing my body, rather than pursue my diet of habit.

It had to be a ‘we’ effort, as self control and a hungry pregnant woman simply don’t exist – at least not in my world.

Not surprisingly, enter my heart-to-heart with my pesky little mates: Little Miss Gluten and Little Miss Lactose, aka the Witches of Woe.

You see WOW, have proven to be no friends to me at all. Consequently, I have shared a love hate relationship with them both since turning 37 and while I’d like to think their say over all things dietary for me in my forties is due to a misspent youth, sadly I think the truth is decidely more vanilla.

My body – for whatever reason – doesn’t respond warmly to gluten or lactose. Bloat being the main side effect followed by a fogginess that descends on me making even the simplest of tasks a little challenging.

Now what some may call baby brain – and let’s be honest, that little beast is real – the gluten haze as I like to refer to it, is a reality that can be avoided, if you’re willing to forgo the habits of western dining founded in years of poor practice rather than any health science.

Step 1: Rethinking the Weekly Shop

Now before you think this is about to turn into a ‘All hail the Paleo diet’ diatribe to which MKR’s Pete Evans would be proud, rest assured – there’s no room for that kind of crazy in these parts.

More a focus on careful observation of the variant parts contained in the highly processed foods we have learnt to keep as ‘staples’ in our pantries.

As you’d expect, gone from my pantry are the delights: Special K, Nutri Grain, White bread, raisin loaf, Pasta, flour, full cream milk, … you get my drift.

Instead, I have specific variants on the traditional with labels reading gluten free, lactose free and dairy free. So my alternative staples include: soy & linseed bread, rice bubbles, gluten-free pasta and zymil milk – small and simple adjustments to the weekly groceries and nothing too confronting for my tastebuds.

To be honest, I apply the 80:20 rule. If I’m good good 80% of the time, then I can be ‘not so good’ the other 20% 😛

Which sees me enjoying a glass of bubbles now and then.

To Wine or Not to Wine – Everyone has an Opinion

As luck would have it, it was also my body’s choice, that alcohol didn’t pass my lips while I was pregnant.

Believe me, I was as surprised as anyone, that a bubble had lost all of its appeal but I was also a little relieved too.

I’d been lucky enough to have been introduced to FAS through a chat or two with the wonderful Dr Elizabeth Elliot who among other things, conducts research into foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

However, detailed information on drinking while breastfeeding – and by this I mean managing the milk production with safe (alcohol-free) feeding was tricky to come by.

While I downloaded the ‘Feed Safe App’, planning ahead and expressing milk for bottle feeds were my best available solutions.

I can hear some of you screaming judgementally, ‘abstinence is best’ (Yes, Mum!), for those of us who enjoy the odd tipple, it’s a bloody good treat post partum when you’re sick of feeling like Bessie the Cow and you just want to have an hour or so of pure unadulterated ‘me time’.

Selfish right…?

Probably. However, the way I reconcile it in my head is simple:

I eat healthily and exercise regularly (don’t worry, I’m not referring to strenuous gym sessions thrice daily, moreso leisurely walks around the block most days!) as part of my WOW management plan.

I abstain 95% of the time, so I’m entitled to have my 5% of me time now and then 🙂

While bloat is no longer a problem, although fatigue remains. I put that down to bub’s demands rather than an unsavoury byproduct of indulging my pesky little mates: Little Miss Gluten and Little Miss Lactose, aka the Witches of Woe.

EndNote:

If you’d like to find out more information on FAS, start here: Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) – Better Health Channel

#KeepingItReal #TheArtOfGr8Comedy

Girly Things At The Australian Open

I’ve thought it, but never heard it mentioned in commentary.

Unexpectedly, a British tennis player has put the most natural of monthly events front and centre during performance discussions at the 2015 Australian Open.

In a tournament that saw World No.1 Roger Federer dismissed in Round Two by Italian Andreas Seppi, only to be sent packing by Australian 19 year old wunkerkid Nick Kyrgios prior to the quarter finals and Serena Williams power through all would be rivals to her 18 major grand slam win, we have also witnessed the rise of a discussion previously considered too delicate to discuss through sports media circles: Menstruation in Pro Sport.

Up until 2015, the female menstrual cycle has been the elephant in women’s dressing rooms around the world amateur and pro alike. However, that taboo would appear to have been lifted thanks to British tennis player, Heather Watson attributing nausea and dizziness on court to ‘girl things’  in her Round 1 loss to Bulgarian Tsvetsana Pironkovato.

Now while some of you may cringe behind your manly, mans, man look at the world, there are physical differences beyond the obvious between male and female athletes.

The impact of the physiological on performance significant.

Women are mentally tough. We might play the damsel in distress now and then, but really that’s just us being lazy and our way of saying ‘ I just want someone to look after for a little while’.

I applaud Watson’s honesty. Sometimes Mother Nature really does hold a girl back from being at her best, but I wonder: when is too much information, too much information…?

Call me old fashioned, but while there’s definitely a time and place for open comms about preparation and performance in sport, it could be argued that some things are better left to the imagination and fan speculation.