Archive for November, 2016

First World Problems?

shutterstock_94764160People keep apologising to me for their problems. They have a bad day at work, or the kids drive them to distraction or they have an argument with their partner, and they start telling me about it, then apologise, and say, ‘Sorry! It’s nothing like what you’re going through. First World Problem …’

Yes, it is. Because we live in the First World.

It’s often true that there are worse things that could happen. It’s true that sometimes we whinge about things that don’t really matter, or make situations more difficult than we need to.

That said, sometimes our ‘day-to-day’ gets on top of us. Our ‘equilibrioception’ gets out of whack. That’s a fancy name for our sense of balance, which I picked up during a show at a science centre over the weekend, right before I comprehensively lost my patience with my kids.

It was hot. I was tired. I have a sinus infection coming on. I’d spent eight hours on Saturday decluttering and cleaning the grout in the bathroom on my hands and knees. One of the kids wouldn’t do what he was told and another was trying to get the car into reverse and kept stalling, then getting frustrated, and I snapped at her — completely unfairly, in a way I’ve never done before while teaching a teenager how to drive.

Looking back on the morning, the frustration began when our coffee and hot chocolate order was accidentally picked up by someone else and when I explained this to my 6-year-old he growled loudly. A woman nearby glared at him, and frowned at me. It was all I could do not to go up to her and tell her his father had died recently, but I didn’t need the extra drama.

One minor thing after another was piling up, on top of some major things. It’s coming up to the four-month anniversary of Jeff’s death and we’ve just had a week of Year 12 and Year 10 exams, which would have been stressful at the best of times.

It’s often not until we’ve lost the balance and we’re in the act of falling over, or losing patience with the wrong kid, or dropping an important ball, that we twig that something’s off. That’s when it’s time to really wind things back and be kind to ourselves.

So, I texted two friends who we’d been going to meet up with in the afternoon and postponed our plans. Even social things with people you love can be too much sometimes.

It’s all right not to get through everyday life elegantly all the time and it’s okay to get frustrated by things that aren’t major problems. Coco Chanel advised women to look in the mirror before they leave the house and take one accessory off. It’s a good idea to look at our diaries too, and remove one thing …

Love it? Own it!

November 5th, 2016 | Comments Off on Love it? Own it!

bros2I had a message from a friend on the weekend, with a screenshot of the direct message 80s demigod Matt Goss had sent her on Friday night.

One of my daughters was with me at the time, and the conversation went a bit like this:

“Matt Goss sent a DM to my friend!”

*Blank stare*


*More staring*

“This would be the equivalent of Harry Styles sending you a DM in 2039.”


Rach prefaced the message to me with, “Em, you are one of the few people I know who will appreciate the momentous-ness of this,” and indeed I do. Not just because a bone fide heartthrob from our youth whose posters many of us had on our bedroom walls, replied to her directly (with a kiss emoji, no less), but because my clever, accomplished, talented and compassionate friend is willing to own her life-long passion for the band wildly and freely, and doesn’t care who knows about it.

She is a member of a Facebook Group called “Aussie Brosettes“, which is currently dedicated to a social-media frenzy designed to entice Bros to include Australia in their 2017 comeback performance schedule. (If this calls to you, send a request to join, and they’ll furnish you with hashtags galore.)

Whether the band tours here or not, Rach has a VIP meet-and-greet ticket to one of their UK shows (and no idea yet how’ll she’ll get there). She made the decision after asking the universe to “send her a sign”, right before pulling out in front of this truck on the motorway:

If the surname and band name weren’t enough of a match, the phrase “Come join the family” and number plate GBT and ’17 were solid signs. Universe or not, she booked, and is going with a lifelong friend who she met at 14 in the Bros section of a record shop.

My late husband, Jeff, probably wouldn’t have known Bros had he fallen over one of them. Of all the wonderful things that he was, “80s pop music tragic” was not on the list. His music passions were eclectic, and he was just as vocal about his love of Springsteen (a mainstream admiration) as he was of his passion for bluegrass (a bit more ‘niche’).

On weekends, he would paint tiny soldiers. He was amassing an Army when he died, with the intention of war-gaming with his best friend, Roger.

There are people who might ridicule war-gamers, and people who might laugh at middle-aged “Brosettes”. This post isn’t about those people.

This is about owning what you love. No “guilty pleasures”. No “secret passions”. No apologising or disclaiming. Just “THIS IS ME AND I LOVE THIS”.

Jeff won’t get to go war-gaming now. I’m left with hundreds of little men, lined up in plastic containers on the shelf. How I wish he’d made the time …

And how I LOVE that Rach is a Chief Brosette, making a dream come true in her 40s on behalf of who she is now, and her teenaged self. There are so many serious issues to worry about in the world and, while Jeff and Rach never met, they shared deep concern for many of them. But sometimes a message we need to hear falls off the back of a truck. Shouldn’t we honour the lightness in our lives while we can?