The Problem with Things

“All things in moderation”.

A phrase beloved of teachers, parents and, in quite startling numbers, people by the name of Judgey McJudgey-pants.

Personally I prefer the Oscar Wilde version…

“Everything in moderation, including moderation”.

Much more my style.

As you may have gathered I don’t really do things by halves. At, least I haven’t so far in my 36 years to date. For as long as I can remember I’ve had an all or nothing approach to life.

There are positive aspects to this approach. It has fueled the ambition I’ve needed to make a steady upward progress in my career. It drives me to try new things and challenge myself to see what I’m capable of.

And it makes me lots of fun at parties 😉

However the negative side to this approach is that my life seems to be caught in a cycle that I’ve been able to identify, but not fix.

Stage 1 of the cycle usually kicks off when I get busy. Because I like to throw myself into things I’m always up for taking on new projects or added responsibilities at work. Add to that a love of socialising and the constant whirl of kid-related activities I start having “too much of a good thing”, as is illustrated by the diagram below…

Stage 1 - Too much of a good thing!

Stage 1 – Too much of a good thing!

This “Too much of a good thing” part of the cycle can last as long as 2 months. However with the brakes well and truly off there is no doubt I am heading for a crash.

Inevitably I reach a crisis point. Stressed, bloated and exhausted I decide that enough is enough.

Stage 2 of the cycle begins now and is usually followed by announcement along the lines of…

ME: “Right! There are going to be some CHANGES around here.”

At this point the boys and Brook exchange muted glances of solidarity, as if to say “Alright lads it’s on again. Best dig in for the duration”.

Undeterred by their less than enthusiastic response I will continue…

ME: “I am, as of this moment, on a diet so we will ALL be eating healthily ALL the time. This may or may not involve concepts such as clean eating or becoming ‘Paleo'”.

Max: “Does that mean we eat dinosaur food? Like a T-Rex? I’d like to be a dinosaur. Raaawwwwr!!!”

I don’t answer this question. I’m on a roll now and not stopping for interruptions.

Me: “Hence forth, I will be going to the gym EVERY MORNING. I will be a slave to fitness and if that happens to make me a little tired and grumpy every now and then I expect I will have your full support!”

A little dismay has crept into their expressions but they should hold on to their hats because shit is about to get REAL….

ME: “Furthermore, I shall be instigating a cleaning roster! We will all start tidying up after ourselves, effective IMMEDIATELY. ”

The boys make themselves scarce at this point, but poor Brook is caught in the tractor-beam of my “new regime” fervour.

I inform him that in addition to the previous initiatives I also plan to undertake a regime of general self-improvement. I am woefully behind on reading and current affairs so I’ll make an effort to catch up on some books and articles I’ve been meaning to read since forever.

I shall also become calm and flexible through nightly yoga sessions. I downloaded a yoga app about a million years ago so I’ll fire that up and do a couple of downward dogs.

Brook becomes momentarily excited about this prospect until I assure him that I don’t mean THAT type of downward dog.

Brook takes his life into his own hands by adding a little "light humour" to the situation!

Brook takes his life into his own hands by adding a little “light humour” to the situation!

And for a couple of weeks everything goes well. I do actually do ALL the things.

But around the one month mark cracks are starting to show. The constant self-denial and effort required to maintain such a heightened state of self-discipline is starting to become a strain.

This frenzied pursuit of “All the Things” is of course completely unsustainable in the long term, a fact which is obvious to everyone except me.

The end rot usually sets in around the two month mark. Suddenly before I know it I’m saying “fuck it” to all my carefully constructed improvements and I’m right back at the “Too much of a good thing” part of the cycle.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It’s depressing quite frankly.

So where does that leave me?

Well I’m currently coming out of a Stage 1 “too much of a good thing” blow out, and was all set to dive headfirst into a Stage 2 “ALL the things” makeover.

But then I read something that stopped me in my tracks.

It was a post by Matt at Dad Down Under, which you can read here. What he proposes is revolutionary.

He is going to undertake a challenge where, instead of trying to improve ALL the things he is going to tackle one specific thing a month.

Just one thing. Per month. It was like a light bulb had gone off in my head. I had never for one second there was an alternative to doing ALL the things. It’s brilliant in its simplicity.

Trust a bloke to take something really serious and complicated and make it look easy 😉

However don’t get me wrong – it only LOOKS easy. Matt’s challenge is not for the feint-hearted. The “no internet” month in makes me distinctly uneasy, and the idea of a no-coffee month is so terrifying I can barely contemplate it.

But I’m going to give it a shot. I’m going to switch a few things around so that it’s tailored for me, but on the whole I’ll be trying to remain faithful to the motivation behind the challenge.

The positive side of my all or nothing personality likes the idea of seeing whether I can stick out some of the tougher ones!

So here is the Rachel 365 Challenge…

August 2013 – 30 minutes of reading ACTUAL books. Books used to be my whole life but I can’t actually remember the last time I picked on up.

September 2013 – Exercise (minimum 30 mins of rigorous exercise 5 days a week)

October 2013 – Healthy eating overhaul and pre-Christmas detox

November 2013 – No shouting month. Not just me – this is one will be a whole family exercise! Kind and considered communication from everyone will be the order of the day.

December 2013 – Relationship back to basics. Use some of our holiday time to… uhhm.. catch up on some downward dogs?

January 2014 – Financial Freshen-up. No better time to look at how we are spending our money than when we don’t have none 😉

February 2014 – Alcohol Free. The fact that this is the shortest month of the year has nothing to do with it… much.

March 2014 – Family Fun. Make an effort to plan at least 4 day trips to explore some of the awesome stuff in our local area.

April 2014 – Meal Planning. Actually planning meals for a whole month not just pretending I’ve done it because I thought about food.

May 2014 – Internet free. Apart from work related internet usage (which is minimal)

June 2014 – Take a Course/Learn Something New

July 2014 – Yoga/Meditation. So that I commence my 37th year in a calm and clear minded state!

By the end of 12 months I’m hoping to see a healthier, more balanced me. And if you’re interested I’ll be posting about my progress with tackling the monthly challenges in the first week of each month.

I don’t know how I’ll cope but I think it will be an interesting ride!

For all the details about Matt’s “Dad Down Under 365” challenge go here.

Are you stuck in an “All the Things” Cycle? Then why not set your own 365 Challenge?

It would be awesome to see your ideas about how you can challenge yourself and get your mojo back on track, so whack’em up on my Facebook page so we can all have a look 🙂

Linking up with Grace for FYBF 🙂


Linking up with The Lounge for “Simply the Best” week. Why not link up the best post you’ve ever written here?

Have you liked The Lounge Facebook page yet? You totally should – it’s 99% fabulous and 1% fat-free!

The Lounge

The Full Monty Girl

I’ve got a confession to make, and there’s no point mincing words about it.

The truth is… I’m a full monty girl.

Not in the “middle-aged Scottish male stripper” way, but in the cosmetic sense.

Make-up. War-paint. Slap. “Putting on your face” as my Nan would have said.

A woman’s attitude towards using cosmetics to highlight or hide various features on their face is as individual as she is.

Some women do the full monty every day, and would never contemplate being seen without it. Others will rarely use it, maybe applying the barest flicker of mascara for a special occasion.

Still more will be somewhere in between the two extremes, muddling along in a way that is comfortable for them.

Whether they choose to wear a little or a lot, the thing that I find fascinating is that most women will have developed their own set of specific “rules” that define in what situations they will wear make-up, what types of make-up they will wear and even how they will apply it.

As I mentioned earlier I lean towards the full monty end of the spectrum, but my attitudes toward make-up are both complicated and ingrained.

They are so much a part of my cultural frame of reference that trying to pin them down is like trying to catch beauty in a butterfly net.

Me after work. Make-up still pretty much in place. Yes I did instagram it, but that's because I have a spot between my eyes that makes me look like I'm impersonating Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. !

Me after work. Make-up still pretty much in place. Yes I did instagram it, but that’s because I have a spot between my eyes that makes me look like I’m impersonating Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. !

So why have I decided to muddy up the waters of my consciousness to try and articulate my attitudes towards make-up?

My inspiration is none other than the latest viral sensation, Dustin Hoffman’s interview about preparing to play the role of Dorothy Michaels in the seventies classic movie Tootsie.

It’s not Dustin’s rather melodramatic lament about all the interesting women he never got to know because he was too chasing model-slash-actresses.

No the part that rang starkly true for me occurs at 1.53 of the clip.

It’s the part where Dustin – with the arrogance and naivety of someone to whom it has never occurred that they might NOT be – demands of the studio make-up artists, “You’ve got me looking like woman. Now make me a BEAUTIFUL woman.”

And the make-up artist delivers the same crushing verdict that a million women have looked in the mirror and pronounced upon themselves…

“This is as good as it gets”

I know how Dustin felt. The feeling of wanting to do the best with the resources at my disposal is definitely part of the reason I wear make-up.

But it’s not the full story. For me to examine how I became a full monty girl we need to wind back the clock a good 30 years at least.

We need to start with my mother.

Some of my earliest memories of my mother involve me watching her put on make-up. Hanging around in the bathroom in the way that 3-4 years olds do, probably just chatting and getting under her feet while she was getting ready to take us to the shops.

Watching her intricate movements with tiny, obscure looking instruments. Smelling the perfumed scents of creams and lotions. Admiring the bright colours bringing out the sparkle in her eyes and the bloom in her cheeks.

With her thick red hair and glamorous makeup my mother was a “pop” of colour against the backdrop of suburban Perth in the late 70’s.

To this day she is the only woman I know who can wear a tracksuit and make it look stylish.

My Mum - front and centre. Rising above the fashion indignities of the early 90's LIKE A BOSS!

My Mum – front and centre. Rising above the fashion indignities of the early 90’s LIKE A BOSS!

 

So for me make-up has always symbolized femininity.

From the mysterious rituals and accouterments to the seemingly miraculous transformation they effected – these things would be my inheritance once I grew up and crossed the threshold into woman-hood.

However in reality this inheritance has been something of a double edged sword. The following two scenarios illustrate this better than any theoretical explanation I can offer…

Scenario 1

I attend a work function in northern NSW and which finishes late enough for me to stay in a hotel for the night rather than drive home. The next morning I wake up tired from some fairly intense networking the previous night.

After a shower I contemplate my make-up bag and think “fuck it, can’t be bothered”. So I pack and head to the buffet for breakfast, where I am completely unperturbed about being seen without make-up.

It’s not until I’m on the way home that I encounter a problem.

I realise that I will be passing the home of a fellow blogger who I have become good friends with over the last few months. I am sans children and I think excitedly “I should call her! I could pick her up and we could go for coffee! How utterly RAD”.

And then it hits me. I have no make-up on. And my plans for a surprise visit crumble as quickly as they had risen.

No matter how much my logical mind pleads for sanity my sub-conscious mind will not give in. The internal dialogue goes something like this…

“We don’t meet new people without our make-up on. We have never met this person in real life, but we like them very much and care what they think. Surely we don’t want to meet them looking less than our best?”

The end result? I don’t call, we don’t meet and I am disappointed with myself for the rest of the day.

Scenario 2

I work full time and always try to be in early as insurance against those times when I need to exit early due to one of the three S’s – sickness, sport or school related activities.

So I get up before the boys and Brook and start the process of getting myself ready for work. I start to put on my make-up, and instantly the process of metamorphosis commences.

Outwardly I begin the rituals of smoothing, blending and painting, that are now so habitual I almost don’t need to think about them. Putting on my “professional face” so that my external appearance reflects the confidence and conviction I feel inside.

But the internal metamorphosis is just as important. You see I rarely wear make-up on the weekends when I am around the house, cleaning and cooking and nagging and mothering. So for me the process of putting on make-up is a crucial part of changing gears between m two worlds – the domestic and the professional.

So that’s my analysis on why I’m (mostly) a full monty girl, but what I’d really like is to hear from YOU!

I am sure that for some women their relationship with make-up is nowhere near as complex mine, and I would really love to hear more about this perspective. On the other hand there are also probably some women who would think that my version of the full monty is is pretty tame and I’d love to hear more about how that works too.

Linking up with The Lounge with a very dodgy association to the theme of favourite photos. This post does HAVE photos in it after all 😉

What the F%#k Friday

What the F#%? Friday - Header

Linking up with The Lounge because we’re failing with STYLE 🙂

 

Howdy all, it’s it finally time for another What the F#%? Friday!

This week I’m not just cataloging the weird, wonderful and just plain WACK. Oh no. This week is dedicated to those most satisfying of WTFs … FAILS.

Now there is an argument that all instances of WTF have, at their heart, an element of FAIL.

However if you want to argue semantics you should probably go and find a blog where the author knows what semantics ARE and then argue with them instead of me. Lord knows it’s school holidays and I am having all the arguments one woman can stand.

And on that note I’d like to give some credit to my boys.

Finding random stuff for these posts has become a bit of a family obsession and they have become my unofficial “spotters” when we are out and about. And in the case of several of the number plate photos they have also taken on the role of photographer.

If I’m driving and we spot something interesting, who ever is sitting in the front will shout “I’ll get it Mum!”. Then, after a brief scrummage in my handbag for my iPhone, they’ll start clicking away with the professionalism of a miniature paparazzi!

My little accomplices – how I love them! The irony of someone trying to make a Volvo “cool” with a number plate like this was lost on them but not on me 😉

My little accomplices photo-bombing a number plate pic :)

My little accomplices photo-bombing a number plate pic 🙂

OK, so now without any further ado here is the What the F#%? Friday FAIL edition…

Street Names

I’m going to cheat a bit here (already!) and include an awesome street name fail AND one that is an absolute winner. See if you can guess which is which.

1. A street of winners?
In Brisbane we don’t just let Bogans live where ever the damn hell they like! No we take a much more sensible approach. We give them their own street…

If you ever wondered where they came from, now you know!

If you ever wondered where they came from, now you know!

2. A winning street
Call me a nerd if you like, but wouldn’t this be the most awesome street to live in? Or is that “illogical”? 😉

I loved this so much I just had to give it the Vulcan Salute!

I loved this so much I just had to give it the Vulcan Salute!

Number Plates

The personalised number plate is almost doomed to failure from the start. Put simply if you need to tell people something about yourself so badly that you have to express it on the exterior of your car, then you are trying WAY TOO HARD.

Like these people…

1. Livin’ (or lovin’?) IT
Ok so we can see you’ve got a beemer. Round of applause for you. It’s not clear whether it’s an abbreviated version of LIVING it or LOVING it. But either way it spells W.A.N.K.E.R to me…

Are you mate? Are you really?

Are you mate? Are you really?

2. Desinger Label
This one is my favourite, and not just because this person has blatantly tried to gain street cred by associating themselves with a prestigious designer label.

No it’s the fact that they put this number plate on a KIA, the crappiest car ever to grace the byways of suburbia, that really appeals to my sense of irony.

The number plate may be all class, but the car is all ass!

The number plate may be all class, but the car is all ass!

For those of you who are startled by my animosity toward KIAs you can get the back story here

Sign Fails

It never ceases to amaze mt the truly bizarre shit that people put on signs! Totally wack. Again I’m going to give you a couple of FAILS and one mega-WIN.

1. Lushington Softstone

We’re going to do a little quizz for this one. When you read the name Lushington Softstone what do you think it is referring to?

Once I get 20 votes I’ll post a picture of the answer 😉

2. Toilets. They are not for standing on.

My trusty friend Paula has done me a great service by drawing my attention to a very serious issue. Apparently there is a world-wide epidemic of people who think it is OK to stand on the toilet to do their business!

No Standing. Anytime.

No Standing. Anytime.

Alright, epidemic may be too strong a word. But there are clearly enough people doing this to warrant an actual sign being constructed. And it also helpfully reminds you to put your toilet paper in the toilet. In case you’d planned to, I don’t know, put it in your pocket instead.

Who does this? I have no idea, but for any closet toilet-standers out there be warned. The toilet police have your number…

3. The Death of a Video Store

I’m a bit obsessed with the slow slide into obsolescence that is currently being experienced by many products and institutions that I grew up with – machines like faxes are a good case in point.

Video stores are also at risk of extinction. There are a couple still hanging on by their finger nails but more and more often when I see a video store it’s empty with a “For Lease” sign on it.

As is the case with the store in this photo. But this store is a little bit different. It decided it would NOT go gently into that good night. It was going to have one last shot – and here it is…

Vale, Video Store

Vale, Video Store

I salute you noble video store. You died a good death.

The Mother if all FAILS

If you ever needed evidence of the decline in musical culture since the the grunge era, then you need look no further than Psy. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more naff a marketing team in Korea decided that what Psy really needed to consolidate his popularity was a doll…

Life like in a very creepy way

Life like in a very creepy way

But that’s not the fail. The real FAIL is that is dances!!!!

If you’ve got a photo that you that made you go WTF then you can post it on my Facebook page or DM me on twitter @theviblog using the #WTFFriday hashtag.

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed the FAILS edition of What the F#%? Friday. And don’t forget to do the Lushington Softstone quiz 🙂