The insidious faces of domestic violence

So often I post about male on female intimate partner violence (emotional, financial, physical and verbal abuses). I am often attacked as not caring about male victims of domestic violence. Whilst the statistics in Australia on domestic violence are overwhelmingly committed by males (approximately 73%), whether male on female or male on male the fact remains that there is a group of people, men, in our societies who are subjected to family violence their intimate partners. They are often marginalised and disregarded in the broader debate. We need to include all victims of family violence in this debate if we are to truly challenge the perpetrators and eradicate their toxic behaviours.

To become informed about this lesser discussed form of family violence, be it female on male, or male on male, please find a screening of the movie The Red Pill. 

Information about screenings and the movie itself at link


Multi Level Marketing – Stop the Nay Saying

A bit of an unusual rant from me but I truly felt that I had to speak up on behalf of women.

I recently watched a YouTube clip about a product a friend of mine had started selling. The commentator in the video was against my friends product. His only reason for being against the product is that it was multi-level marketing (MLM). Nothing about the integrity of the company or the quality of the product. Just against it because of the way you buy it.

Let me tell you about MLM and I why I do it and thousands of others do it too. Now, I agree, there are some unscrupulous companies out their, but mostly the MLM products that are lasting and that have successful sales consultants are good products from good companies that chose a specific growth path. And it is a path that empowers its consultants, most of whom are women.

I love MLM. I am not hugely active as for me it is a side line. I have two MLM products that I sell because I absolutely believe in or love the product. I am well rewarded, can work the hours I want and I have fun. I also get to work with some amazing people who bring joy to my life. Most of the women I work with have MLM as their main source of income. They are able to work around children, family commitments and their own commitments. I work with mums of young children, university students, upcoming brides, and women with older children. All express how much they enjoy being able to pick their own hours.

I have heard people comment that I am making money off my friends. Yes, I did, they welcomed me into my home to hear what I had to say. The same as if you bought a product from a friend that worked in a shop or owned the shop. Other critics point to the rewards that can include holidays locally and overseas. My son works for a multi-national company and regularly goes on holidays that he has won on bonuses, or he travels for conferences, planning retreats and any number of activities. This is how businesses in sales work. They reward their top sales people. And that is what MLM does too.

Put simply, MLM is just one of a number of different business models, one that enables women to work part time or full time, when it suits them and their families, and gives them financial independence, boosts their confidence, and in many many cases builds strong lasting friendships.

Edit – links to MLM pages deleted as I no longer maintain my role in these companies.

Chakra colours and scarves

It seems odd to think of chakras purely as their colour. So often we carry crystals or wear them as jewellery hoping to balance a chakra. As a person who is not likely to randomly kiss trees or hug babies I actually pay quite a lot of attention to my chakras and to that extent I pay attention to the colour scarf I wear. I wear scarves everyday. Each of the colours chosen are used to support me mentally. Some people laugh but it is true. I tend to incorporate a lot of red into my overall outfit. In fact my basic work wardrobe is black, grey and red. While this provides me with a sense of safety and security, it is designed to engender that sense of safety and security in others. The message is, “I have this under control, you can believe in me to get the job done.”

For meetings or public appearances I choose carefully. I think of my audience and the message I am trying to get across. When I am speaking to large crowds I always wear a turquoise coloured scarf to support my throat. You may laugh but I gave my favourite turquoise scarf to a woman terrified of public speaking back in February. She gave a magnificent presentation. So much so that I felt compelled to give her the scarf.

Earlier on this year I was on a mission to reempower my self. My previous job had become so mind numbing that I had unintentionally stripped some of my own confidence. I found a beautiful yellow scarf with other charkra colours interwoven in a lovely paisley pattern. I like tiny paisley patterns as they remind me of mandalas. I have to say that the scarf restored me to my former confident self and enabled me to make some great life changing and life progressing decisions.

So my learning to share with you, think about the colours that you where, and if you do the Melbourne all black, add some colour and dedicate it to a specific chakra. Then watch how your day unfolds.

Love and Light!!

Yellow chakra scarf

Family violence must be addressed

Most of my posts are reflections on my life. Unfortunately I experienced domestic violence many years ago. I also experienced the condemnation of society that I had somehow “let” this happen. Do you really think that the first time you meet someone they lean over the table in the coffee shop and punch you in the head? No! It starts much more simply and insidiously than that. The subtle changes to your appearance, toning down of makeup, lengthening of skirts and shirts, modification of the bright colours you used to wear. Alongside of this are the comments about your safety and wellbeing at certain establishments or with certain people. And before you know it you you are dressing like your grandmother and all your old friends are gone. What is worse is that your girlfriends have been replaced by his friends’ partners who think all of the above restrictions are “normal”. And then “it” happens, one minute you are arguing and the next you are on the floor after being hit. You go to your “new” friends for advice. Their advice “you just have to try harder”. “If you get everything right then he won’t hit you”. EXCUSE ME!! How is a human being hitting me because his mate perved on me in any way my fault.

So there I am, on my one true friend’s couch, the only one I was ever allowed to have, asking her for advice. My jaw is still sore and I am still using an ice pack. Now I have to point out that I am, and always have been, the strong one in the relationship. We decided that rather than disrupting my kids again, I was quite the train wreck in my twenties, that we would see how things went. Hah! I should have just grabbed my kids and fled there and then. Could have saved myself and them all sorts of terror. What followed next was two years of continual moving, always being found. I moved house ten times.

I could not get a judge, initially, to grant a domestic violence order to protect me. In fact, at my first appearance the judge made me feel worthless and as though I somehow deserved the treatment I was receiving. Finally, after having my head repeatedly smashed into a concrete floor, and been repeatedly raped (it is the only word to describe that weekend), I was granted an order. And a kindly doctor had organised a place in a refuge. I couldn’t be collected from a “secret” meeting point until lunchtime the next day. I went home and acted normal. By this time he was accepting that I needed some space and had moved a few apartments away to his brother’s house. In the dead of night I snuck some clothes down to my car. Terrified. Heart pounding that I would be seen. I wasn’t, fortunately. I then went back upstairs and proceeded as normal. The kids off to school and me off to work. I was there when he rang at 10.30. I confided in my boss and she was wonderful and arranged for me to be paid out in cash and had my phone diverted to hers so that if he rang again she could stall him.

I was too scared by this point to even go to the school to pick up my kids. The local police were amazing. They went to the school and got my kids for me. The refuge collected us and decided that it was unsafe for us to remain in Melbourne. So I was transferred to a refuge in another state. My family were so supportive but didn’t know how to handle this situation. Neither did I. My dad convinced me to not run. To come back to Melbourne and stand my ground. I often think that was a sliding door moment. I came back to Melbourne and of course he found me and moved back in. Eventually the police got me out and I moved to a caravan park. I had reached the lowest ebb of my life.

On 23 December 1995 I made a decision that would change my life for ever. I boarded a train to Sydney with two kids and four bags. I changed my name and started again. I built my life as my own. I could do this because I was born strong. I was born always wanting better. Knowing that there was a better way. Always seeking my way. The way that was right for me. Many women don’t have this view of themselves. Society bombards us with images that seek to subjugate us. We have laughing little jokes that keep the divides between equal and not equal firmly in place. We are taught that self deprecation is good. For many of the women in violent situations they stay because there really is nowhere else to go. There are less refuges now, less emergency housing, less services. There is also a very real and legitimate fear that if they leave they will die. And let me tell you that is true. Women who try to leave die more often than women who stay.

So what do we do? We need to sign the petition below for starters. We need to teach our sons that violence towards anyone is not an appropriate way to behave. We need to teach our daughters and our sons that they are perfect and wonderful and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. We need to role model the behaviours we would want ofr our children on each other. We need governments to hear that this is intolerable and that services need to be provided.

Conversations on a train: Menopause

There are some topics that are taboo for public discussion. Some are sensible taboos, others are not, and some are changing their status. Menopause being one of the latter. Coming home on the train the other afternoon I managed to embarrass my teenager (yay!) by having a conversation about the symptoms and treatments of menopause. I find it interesting, given what teenagers post on social media, that a normal function could cause her to want to curl up and die. But that is a topic for another day.

How it happened: I was sitting on the train when I began having a rather warm, and importantly, not hot, flush (the Chinese Medicine is starting to work!!) and grabbed the fan from my handbag. I started fanning, only to have my teenager nudge me and sotto voce tell me that it was disturbing the woman I was sitting next to. I turned to look at the woman, who had clearly heard, and she said, “I just stopped doing what you are doing.” I was quite taken aback as she looked the same age as me. I am convinced I am too young, 48, to be undergoing menopuase. I asked her how long it had lasted and she said seven years. She had finally given in and taken HRT. Her symptoms were so severe that I felt a twinge of guilt about my whingeing and whining of late. My sister, who is similar in appearance to the woman, also suffers greatly and I jokingly said it must be a blond haired blue eyed curse to suffer so much. At this point another woman leaned into the conversation and said, in a friendly manner, “I can assure you it isn’t.”

With dark olive skin and brown eyes she was no doubt correct. The three of us all smiled at each other and it was as though an instant bond formed. The type of bond that can only exist amongst people who have experienced the same thing. I asked if she was still having menopause symptoms and how long they had been going for. Like the woman next to me she didn’t look “old” or “menopausal”. I was really surprised to learn that she had started before she was 50 and now in her 60s was still experiencing symptoms. I said a quick prayer to any god that might be lurking around that I wouldn’t experience them for that long.

It was interesting to note the amount of women surreptitiously listening in to our conversation but too shy to participate. Clearly we three women are pioneers of public discussion. We discussed different complementary medicines, the pros and cons of HRT, Doctors opinions on complementary treatments (overwhelmingly negative, despite medical disasters like HRT with its proven links to ovarian cancer), and finally we discussed the impact on careers. One of the women experienced such a huge level of fatigue that she, like me, had requested a part time role, and her work place would not accommodate it and so, like me, she had no alternative than to resign. Such limited thinking.

It was a really refreshing conversation, and I learnt a lot. I was disappointed when my station arrived that it had to end. I regret not giving my contact details to the women so we might share some more. I would really love to start a group, physical or virtual, for women that provides a safe space to learn and laugh about symptoms, share experiences, celebrate or lament  the support or lack of support offered by family and friends, and what treatments have cured, or minimised, or provided some relief.

If anyone is interested I would be happy to be an admin for a closed Facebook group. Or I might just start a page and try my hand at developing some dedicated menopause memes to add some humour to our day. Feel free to comment here or contact me via my Facebook page if you are interested in a group or a page, or have a bit of artistic meme flair…Or some funny and not so funny stories to share, or links that helped you.

Vipassana + Menopause = Fail

I’m back! Yes, I realise I wasn’t gone for long. You probably didn’t have time to notice I was missing. The retreat is amazing. It is serious bootcamp for meditation. 4.30am start to 9.30pm finish, with meal and rest breaks. But mostly solid meditation practice and absolute silence, not even gestures between practitioners is allowed. Great nourishing food too. But for me it wasn’t a success.

I left the retreat 51 hours after I arrived. It appears that serious meditation and menopause don’t go together. Part of meditation is learning to set aside pain. This does not mean ignoring it, it means seeing it and acknowledging it and then letting it pass. It does too. Except hot flushes!

I was really determined to nail meditation when I arrived at the Vipassana Retreat. Probably a bit too much ego when you think about what meditation is meant to achieve, but I was really looking forward to taking my meditation to the next level. I had taken a hand fan with me to help me through the worst moments of the flushes, as I do at home. Regrettably, the assistant teacher decided that I could not use the fan as this would disrupt my awareness of my breathing. In Vipassana you maintain awareness of the soft natural breath in and out at the tip of the nose. If I was waving a fan how could I feel the breath. I was able to continue to feel the breath despite the fanning. But that wasn’t acceptable, I just had to work through the flush as I would for pain. This was said with all the arrogance and condescension of a woman who never had menopause symptoms! After my first meeting with her, and feeling especially belittled, I tried: I really tried to meditate through the flushes. I got up at 4.30am and stayed meditating in my room. 2 solid hours and minimal success, noting that this is part of the peak time for my flushes. I had breakfast and a break and then meditated for another 3 hours. I stopped for lunch and then meditated for a further 1.5 hours.

Now I have to remind you that my flushes go both ways. Freezing cold to burning hot. The TCM that I have commenced taking has taken the edges off but not enough yet for me to leave my layers on. When I am cold I need an extra layer and when I am hot I need to remove a layer (or ten). The retreat is in the mountains, and even in the middle of the day you need gloves, scarf and beanie outside and to a lesser extent inside (to keep costs down). So there I am, in my room adding a coat, removing the coat, removing a jumper, adding my beanie and scarf, removing my beanie and scarf. You get the picture. It was far more disruptive than picking up the fan and fanning lightly for a couple of minutes. Or worse, standing up and walking outside into the cold mountain air for a rapid cool down.

After all the meditation dedicated to moving past the flushes I realised that I could not maintain my focus as I would for pain, because at least once you acknowledge the pain you move beyond it. Flushes aren’t like that. Pain is constant so you can put it aside. Flushes are new each and every time. So you have to address each one as you would a new pain arising in your body. Regardless of your focus on your breathing you can feel the rapid heating of your body, skin burning and perspiration dripping all over your body. Taking off clothes brought me completely out of the meditative state and I would then need to start again from the beginning each time. With a fan I could still maintain a reasonable level of focus/awareness and not come completely out of the state, kind of like how you go to the bathroom in the night without really waking up.

So it was, with a heavy heart and great sadness that I stopped the female manager and asked permission to leave. Fortunately I do not feel a sense of failure. Only a deep sense of frustration that in a place dedicated to enhancing students practice of the Vipassana method I could not find the support to allow me to use a fan occassionally while meditating. So here’s hoping I find a natural therapy to control the flushes and can do a Vipassana retreat sometime soon.

If you are interested in a meditation retreat, the link below is to a worldwide organisation that runs on donations. It is not affiliated with any religion. It is purely designed to provide you with ten days of silence to practice your meditation skills and help you to purify your mind.

I still call him Bruce!?! Excuse me? The ignorance of some people …

Warning! May contain a bit of a Rant!!

The arrogance of some people to say that they will continue to call Caitlyn Jenner “Bruce”. To me this shows all sorts of disrespect to others and to yourself. It shows me that you not only have low self-esteem but a serious lacking in self-worth. Your statement clearly reflects that you live in a world where you are too scared to be true to yourself and so you seek to keep others down or to pull them down when they stick there head up and try to shine. Your words show that the people around you would not respect any choices that you made, and so because you want to stay being a sheep you mimic those words. Who are you that you feel so threatened by the courage of Caitlyn? Who are you that cannot smile happily and with joy at seeing a person take steps to be the person that they truly are? Why are you so unable to let go of your bitter and twisted views and be the best person that you can be?

I think Caitlyn is a role model for everyone. Not just those of us living with transgender feelings. What a path Caitlyn has wandered? So many decades living within false constraints. I show Caitlyn’s steps to my daughters to say that no matter what the odds are in life you must always be true to yourself. Yes you will be scared, yes you will be frightened, and yes you may lose some people that you thought loved you. All those feelings will be worth it. Once you realise who you are and live true to yourself, good people surround you, you feel empowered, your life has meaning and you discover joy. Living true to yourself brings balance.

A big cheer for Vanity Fair for publishing Caitlyn’s debut on their front cover.

And Caitlyn, I am honoured that I lived at a time that allowed you to find yourself inside and out.


Monday Menopause update!

I just have to ask… How do career women balance peri-menopause and work and family and friends? Seriously! I am blessed with not being moody, in terms of cantankerous. Although, I am periodically suffering from eye leakage at cute duck and puppy videos on Facebook and am sometimes voluntarily cuddling babies.

As for my career, I have set up my work life at the moment to enable me to work from home most days. Amazing what bosses will offer you when they like your work and really want you. Very empowering too. So today I am madly designing a survey questionnaire and realise I have worked 6.5 hours without a break. Unfortunately, this is not unusual for me as I tend to get into workaholic mode very quickly. So, using what scant will power (another thing that seems to vanish as part of the whole end of the hormone business) I have I decided to stop for lunch. (And I must digress a bit because it was a fabulous lunch, because I’m married to the Most Darling Man who loves to cook. In fact, while writing this he has just gone out to the garden and picked fresh lettuce and tomatoes for my evening salad.)

So there I am, feeling nice and full, starting to contemplate my winter waistline, and I think I will have a quick power nap. This was at 3pm. One hour and twenty minutes later I wake with a fright and leap up and race to my computer to log in for my afternoon vid conference just in time. The vid conference went well except for the fact that in my rush to log in I didn’t check my appearance and had the most dreadful case of bed hair. Thank goodness I go without makeup most days otherwise I could have had panda eyes as well. I was also busting to go to the bathroom. A new feature of this peri-menopause business is that my bladder thinks it is full as soon as there is more than three drops of urine to get rid of. What is that deal?

So, why did I sleep so long in the middle of the day you ask? Had I had a late night? Had I had an early morning start? No, it is because I had absolutely zero sleep last night. True! I spent my night like this: I’d just drop off to sleep and wake up because I was cold, I’d fumble for the electric blanket and just as I was warming up my temperature irregulator would soar to the other extreme and before I knew it I was blazing hot and kicking the bedding off to run naked (something I’ve not done previously, well not since my 20s when I had a body worth running naked in!) to stand in front of the freezer on the cold kitchen tiles. I would then chug down cold water and head back to bed. And then just as I was drifting off I would need to go to the bathroom. I’d stagger back to bed and the whole cycle would repeat.

Now you may recall that I have been trying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to control the worst of the symptoms, and I have to say it is working, and most nights I get a reasonable amount of sleep, but I think I am looking for a miracle cure. As in zero symptoms. The TCM Dr has changed the dosage of my medication and stuck a few more needles in me for good measure so hopefully when I return from my meditation retreat I will be more balanced.

So, if like me you are going through 1 or 34 of the symptoms of peri-menopause … hang in there … estimates are that it lasts from 3 to 15 years. Oh, and to the woman who offered me Christian comfort the other day as ripped open my fan and fanned myself down while shrugging out of my hat, scarf and coat, thank you very much for your kindness and clear empathy. It was most welcomed, and I did read your pamphlets out of politeness, and, after spending six years in pubescent hell as a teenager, countless years with bloating, weird days where I felt everything was wrong until I woke the next day and realised that my “friend” was about to arrive, late arrivals and early arrivals and short stays and long stays, and heavy stays while wearing skinny white jeans, don’t even get me started on the agony of childbirth, and now that I am lining up for the switching off of my hormones, I would like to say “the female body is NOT an example of intelligent design”.

That’s pretty much all for today. I wish you all a wonderful evening and a beautiful restful sleep.