Category Archives: Me

Social media addiction: do I have it?

I read yet another article today about social media (internet) addiction and how awful and terrible and bad we all are, how neglectful of our children, so disconnected from reality because we are so connected online. And as usual, I read the article and though, huh, well, yes, I probably am a bit addicted to social media. I like being able to check my email whenever I want to and do so regularly throughout the day. I also flick frequently onto Facebook and Twitter, and scroll about on other social networks as the mood (or links) take me. And yes, I do usually have my phone or laptop in front of me when I’m hanging out with my kids or friends, so maybe I am addicted. Oh woe! How horrible must I be…?

And yet…

Believe it or not, I remember life before Facebook, before Twitter, before smartphones, even before email. Heck, before INTERNET. And funnily enough, from my perspective now, I think I was less engaged in so many ways. I would spend hours with my nose in a book, or watching television. I knew less about everything, though I thought I knew more. My friendship group was smaller, and far less diverse, than it is now.

Do we really think that smartphones and social media make us less engaged? What rubbish. I’ve never been so in touch with what’s going on in the world, and so in touch with so many people from so many places, backgrounds, lifestyles and experiences. Being connected makes me a better person. And I can guarantee you that in a world before the ever-present smartphone in my hand, there was a book in its place and I was no more aware of the world around me than I am now (and yes, the book is still there too, usually on my phone…).

I reckon it’s time to stop feeling guilty about the hours we spend online, hanging out with friends on social media, learning about the world from the different perspectives we never had access to before, ENGAGING as we never did before. We create, we communicate, we collaborate and we connect. It’s brilliant. Embrace it.

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On shrinking and changing habits

When my mum and dad were here on the holidays I handed over several bags full of clothes I have shrunk out of over the past 12 months. It was a big step, because clothes (especially nice clothes in larger sizes) are expensive and by passing them on, you are saying “I’m never going to be that size again.” And I don’t plan to be.

About this time last year I joined Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation program. I had done it once before, but this was the first time I really made any effort. I had lost a little weight during the year (going back to work always helps), but during October I started doing several things that really worked for me.

  1. I started walking to and from work most days. It’s just over two kilometres each way, which is a good distance to get me moving. My job can be fairly sedentary, and I spend way too much time at the computer, vegging out with the kids at home, or reading, so it was a useful way to get some more exercise.
  2. I recorded every single thing I ate and drank in the My Fitness Pal app.
  3. I used the 12WBT recipes and did a lot more cooking from scratch, including batches to take to work for lunch.
  4. I watched the 12WBT videos and did the set tasks to keep on track.

Since the beginning of 2014 I’ve lost more than 15 kilograms. I’ve dropped two or three sizes in clothes and have pretty much had to replace my wardrobe (although I did pull out some older things that now fit again, which is a fabulous feeling!). Most of that was before February this year. I had aimed to lose another ten by now, but various things (mostly injury and illness) have made it a bit difficult. I kept up the walking (when I wasn’t sick or injured!), even on the minus-six degree mornings in the middle of winter, but stopped tracking calorie intake and slacked off on other exercise. But I’m still determined to lose more, so I signed up for another round of 12WBT and am being a stickler again, recording food and figuring out new exercise options.

My goal on this round is not just to lose more weight but to increase strength. I have to commit to doing more of the 12WBT program exercise, and make sure I stick to my calorie count. So that’s my plan. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved so far, and am keen to do more to get to a healthier weight for me.


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And just like that, the holidays are ending…

Two weeks pass like the blink of an eye. At least I didn’t lose most of the break to Teen Wolf like I did LAST break, but a full week of gardening apparently sucks your time just as much as an addictive TV show :) The skip was absolutely chockers by the time it was picked up on Friday last week; I don’t reckon we could have fit even one more stick in! And the yard and gardens looked SO much better for it. But I don’t want to have to do that again – it’s just not my thing…

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In between the yard work we managed to sneak in some socialising – first up was a great get together (the deck warming!) at Donna and Matt’s place, which was just delightful. An ever-changing guest lineup as people came and went throughout the afternoon, with much excellent conversation and food! We also spent a morning with Karen and her kiddies, with lots of baby cuddles at last! Miss G had stroke clinic for swimming three days both weeks, and Master D had daycare, so it was just me and Master J and Master M for a lot of the time. Husband rolled in and out briefly, between work and Tassie trip, and Granna and Grandpop arrived around lunchtime Friday, just in time for me to head to Conflux!


The view from the deck at the deck warming…

I was one of the guests of the Conflux 11 convention, so went in for the opening ceremony late afternoon. MC Laura Goodin did a lovely job opening proceedings, and I had a chance to catch up with a few people early on. I had a little car drama (mechanical issues) when I went to pick up Dirk Flinthart from the airport, but managed to not be too late to collect him! I then took advantage of my night alone at the hotel (was joined my Miss G for the rest of the weekend) and crashed out very early indeed – it had been a big week.

The convention saw me on a heap of panel items, but we started out on Saturday with the launch of Striking Fire by Dirk Flinthart – Dirk arranged at the last minute to have wine delivered and we managed plastic cups to serve it in, alongside the chocolate I had organised. We also had a prize draw of the Dirk books plus a tote bag and notebook, and it was a very convivial and fun launch!

Photo by Cat Sparks

Photo by Cat Sparks

After lunch I had an insane five panels in a row, and it was a bit like that for the whole weekend! Thank goodness for Elanor and Miss G, who took excellent care of the FableCroft sales table while I was not there. It was a wonderfully interesting program (thanks to Leife Shallcross) and I hope I didn’t repeat myself much! Luckily my fellow panelists were erudite and articulate and they all went pretty well, I think. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and though I didn’t do any of the evening socialising (except a brief sojourn at the banquet with Miss G), I still got lots of time to chat with friends, get to know new people, and be inspired by the writers and creators around me.


Photo by Cat Sparks

Short Story Markets
The Editor’s Diary
What about Who?
Cranky Ladies of History
The Appeal of the Superhero
Guest of Honour Talk: Tehani Wessely (thank you SO MUCH to Cat Sparks for interviewing me for the GoH talk – she asked awesome questions!)
A Big Enough Audience
Paying for our passion – writing sacrifices
Alternate Publishing Options
Literary Awards and Judging
Book Promotion
Words of Wisdom
Closing Ceremony and Awards

See Cat Sparks’ fab photos of the convention at her Flickr, here!

Once the convention was over, we had the rest of the week for family sorts of things. This included Miss G turning 10 (where on earth has THAT decade gone?!) and an impromptu bowling party – she had swimming for four hours in the morning, so I sneakily arranged to pick up a couple of her school friends to join us for bowling. The look on her face when they popped up out from the back seat of the car when we picked her up was delightful :)

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Mum and I got some quality shopping time in, and Grandpop and the big boys variously got some fishing (although didn’t have much luck with the catching – not really the goal though, I reckon…) and we enjoyed just hanging out. Husband was home briefly and we managed to get the mechanical issues quickly sorted out for the car he drives back and forth several hundred kilometres per week, as well as duck in a find a new phone for him before he disappeared into the sunset again! Making the most of the short periods of time we have :)

And now it’s the last day of the holidays. Granna and Grandpop have gone off for a bit of a driving holiday on their way home, and I’m working through a few last holiday jobs and tidying up before back to school tomorrow. I think I’ll call this break a big success!


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It’s holidays again!

Time really does speed up as you get older, I’m sure of it. I mean, yes, I had two weeks off work post-appendectomy, but still, term 3 absolutely flew by and here we are again at school holidays. And if every day in the next fortnight is as productive as today, by gum I’ll be taking over the world!

The kids were up early (surprise surprise) but also happily did some tidying up and got ready in a timely manner so we could head out to drop off drycleaning, swing past the hardware store for some gardening equipment, then head to dentist appointments (which I managed to snag just yesterday!). On the way we dropped the car to the lovely Star Wash to be beautified while we were elsewhere (it was SO filthy!) and after our appointments (all good, though we’re looking down the barrel of some major orthodontics for at least two of the kids – and I booked in for wisdom teeth extraction in two weeks, eep!) we even took ourselves to lunch! 

Came home in our lovely clean car, put the little boys to bed, and who knows why but I started in on the gardens again. Master 12 hauled the pruning I started last week into the skip that got delivered Thursday, and I continued with my mission to tidy the darn yard and gardens. For two hours. I don’t even know who I AM anymore!! It’s starting to look a lot better, though I was very cross that the (admittedly cheap) spade I bought didn’t even get through one digging job before the handle snapped! Will be returning THAT tomorrow…

Spent a lovely hour after that colouring (don’t judge me, it’s very relaxing when you have no brain left) and watched the short web series Airlock, a fantastic Aussie scifi production – it was great! 

So what’s in store for the rest of the break? Miss 9 has some swimming commitments (and will become Miss 10 in the second week). Hoping to get Master 5 to some holiday gymnastics again. More garden tidying. A book or two to work on (and several to read). Mum & Dad visiting, which we’re really looking forward to, and flying visits from husband. And I’m guest at the Conflux convention here in Canberra on the middle weekend of the hols, so that should be great! One of the events is the launch of our latest book, Dirk Flinthart’s debut collection STRIKING FIRE – looking forward to sharing that one with people. (You can win a copy or preorder here!).

For now, I think I’m in for an early night – all that fresh air has worn me out!

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I have an excuse, really!

These long gaps between posts have become more the norm than not, which is a bit sad. Twitter and Facebook tend to suck out a fair bit of what I used to blog, but this time, it’s not the only reason for the radio silence! After a good school holiday break in which the family and I kept pretty busy (but stayed home mostly, other than me spending the last weekend in Sydney at the Sydney Writers’ Centre Speculative Fiction Festival), I went back to work feeling good, as you’d expect. Nice and rested, all caught up on things, ready for another big term.

That lasted a week. On the first Friday night of term I went to bed early, but within a short while was feeling a bit odd. Our nanny had been ill with a tummy bug just that morning, so I thought it was probably the same thing – unpleasant, but over in a relatively short time. So I put up with the pain, even though I couldn’t sleep. By midnight, I was exhibiting all the symptoms, but the pain seemed to be getting worse. And worse. And then more worse. By about 4am, I probably should have called the ambulance and gone to the hospital, but I held out until 6am, then woke the nanny and got her to take me to Emergency. Apparently 6ish on a Saturday morning is a good time to get sick because there was no one else there and I was ushered straight through and into a bed. The pain was absolutely awful, and I could have kissed the lovely nurse who finally administered morphine through the IV – that stuff is astonishing, though it still took at least half an hour for my body to unclench all the muscles I reckon!

IMG_0713Early diagnosis indicated probably appendicitis, but I had a barrage of tests throughout the day, including an MRI, before they pronounced it the case. Up to the surgical ward I went that evening, but didn’t get the operation until Sunday morning. Relatively straightforward, thank goodness, a laparoscopic appendectomy with no major issues (though I had a bruise on the back of my hand from an IV I never saw for WEEKS after!). I managed to get up and about within a few hours, and felt okay about it. A fairly sleepless night thanks to a very annoying young woman in the bed across the way, but I was allowed to go home Monday morning.

All good, right? Well, I thought so. Sleep wasn’t terribly easy, and I wasn’t really feeling all that great, despite regular naps and doing nothing at all. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, my pain racheted up and I got my husband to take me back to the hospital, because it didn’t feel right. Cue another big round of tests (another MRI, chest x-ray and a VERY thorough ultrasound), another night in hospital, with no real outcome. The pain had abated, and so I went home again.

IMG_0747I shuffled around the house for a few days, worked up to driving on the weekend (cos kids, right), and then presented at the doctor on the Tuesday to get the “fit for work” clearance required by my work. Ah, nope, says the doctor. My pain still wasn’t great, and it turns out my x-ray and MRI showed some lower lung collapse and fluid, which accounted for the fact I couldn’t get a deep breath (and probably the pain too!). Doctor prescribes some stonking penicillin and sends me home for the rest of the week. The new antibiotics worked great, and I started to feel better within hours – magic stuff!

So I eventually get back to work on the Monday, after two weeks wombling around the house feeling horrid. Things seemed to be on the mend. I got better as the week went on. And then on the Saturday I woke up with a super still neck and the start of a head cold. By Monday, aches and pains and lightheadedness had started too. And so I’ve spent the past two weeks battling the flu! Ended up back at the doctor again last Monday, because the pain I’d had before recurred, so I figured it was the same issue – seems so, because some more antibiotics set me to rights! And now, though I’m still not 100%, I’m well on the road to being so!

I’m very grateful to live in a time where we can be treated for the things I’ve had these past few weeks, and to live in a country with a free (well, other than the GP visits!) healthcare system. The Canberra hospital staff were excellent, and I while I don’t know how much they are paid, the nurses deserve more. They’re amazing.

IMG_0725You know who else is amazing? My staff at work – they just made all the things happen and kept me up to date. They sent flowers and brought food and cake and kind wishes. I’m super lucky.

And who else? My au pair, Trisha – have no idea how we would have coped without her!

And that’s my excuse for the past five weeks. The six or eight before that? Erm, well…life!

Currently I’m working on having two books (one print, one e-only) ready for Conflux in Canberra on the first weekend in October – I’m a guest at the con, and really looking forward to it! Four weeks left of term, and a busy holiday period ahead. Bring it on in good health!

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