Apparently ​women are at their most miserable at fifty…

Fed up with being kind all the time?

Oh dear. Well from the conversations I have been having with my friends – this would seem to be true. Maybe they are not miserable, just beginning to see through the fog of raising children. Once our children are well into teenage hood, we seem to get to a point where we erupt with anger and frustration.

We find ourselves singing Talking Heads tunes to ourselves.

How did I get here?

Why am I doing everything for everybody and getting no thanks for it?

Why am I Julie, the activities director on The Love Boat (have to thank Woogsword for that one).

Why am I facilitating freedom and opportunities for everyone in my family but not for myself?

My Mum was the typical seventies mum – scarf around the head, cigarette at the ready, a packet of Limits on the kitchen table. But she was also a reader. She loved one quote from Goethe which always got on my nerves but now that I am fifty, I keep telling it to myself and my friends.

If I am not for myself, then who can be for me?

What do you think?

How is everyone travelling?

Nowhere? Everywhere? Round and round in a sea of indecision or despair?

What a strange period of time it has been. A big fat, uncomfortable, joyous reset button. For some, it has been such a busy, stressful period of being in the thick of the virus and all the associated collective anxiety. For others it has been a time to be knee deep in the horror of adolescence or primary schoolers in a confined space. For some it has been a chance to rediscover the joy of creative activities such as reading, cooking or gardening.

All I’ve got is never, has the fundamental paradox of life been clearer. There is joy but there is distance. We miss the life we had but there have been new discoveries of things, standing silently at home.

Rain. The changing colours of the leaves. Kookaburras laughing. They are the only things that don’t change. Nature sustains us. Always.

Hitting the road – the joy and pain of the South Coast of NSW

On the road again.

I love taking to the road and discovering new stories and places. I’ve always wanted to go to Rick Stein’s restaurant at Mollymook, so my husband and I hit the road. It was so gorgeous. The location. The view. The glimpse of the bay through the trees. The family groups laughing. The food was truly magnificent. I could feel the love in the broth swimming around a most glorious piece of salmon. Andrew had the most crunchy, feathery and light battered fish and crispy chips lashed with a creamy tartare sauce. I could have clapped my hands with glee. In fact, I think I did.

On the way there, we stopped off at the Kangaroo Valley Show. People are still the same. We all have to stop at marvel at the skill and speed with which a shearer can snip a sheep. We still are terrified of long, slimy snakes but are drawn to them. We still care about each other. There was an amazing exhibit about the bushfires and how they impacted the community and how the community has knitted itself together all Summer long. Photographs of the terrifying flumes of smoke. Objects that had melted in the 1200 degree heat. Community responses. Totally inspiring and life affirming. There is more good in the world than bad.

So good to get out.

The creative impulse

Writing Dolly’s bio-pic is on my to-do list…

If I look back on the books, podcasts and interviews I have listened to over the last month, there’s something of a theme. I started with the biographies of Deborah Harry and Julie Andrews, moved on to the magnificent Dolly Parton’s America podcast and finished with the wonderful Clare Bowditch’s interview https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/clare-bowditch-memoir/11679560 with the lovely Richard Fidler. Who doesn’t love Richard?

All these women have been emotionally brave and pursued their dreams despite intense opposition. They have honoured their creativity and been ultimately unafraid of their feelings. Dolly wrote Joelene and I will always love you – on the same day. Deciding she wanted to pursue a solo career, she marched into the office of Porter Wagoner and sat down and sang him I will always love you and then left. Similarly, Clare talked about the trio of feeling, writing and performing. Deborah Harry has had a damn interesting life and Julie Andrews has lived the singer’s dream.

My feelings and creativity have always scared me. The creativity has had bursts of being let out. I’ve sung in a band, and wrote songs in a duo, did the world’s worst audition for The X Factor but having children seemed to be a good reason to forget all about that. In her interview with Richard, Clare talked about how she shrunk in the wake of the death of her sister at a young age. The idea of shrinking really struck a chord with me. I can see a connection between Dad’s death and seperating myself from my feelings. When two men who were the polar opposite of my Dad entered our life in the suburbs, I tried to make myself invisible. Tried not to have any feelings which in a way was tragically ironic because my impulse was to be a triple threat – a singer, dancer and actress – to sing, dance and express all the feelings. But that was all wayyyyyyy too scary and unpredictable. Where would all that lead to? Instead I found myself, chained to a desk, in a Students’ Association at a University and the PUBLIC SERVICE, dreaming of what I would eat for lunch, and gobbling ginormous chocolate, chip muffins, growing bigger and bigger, burying myself and becoming further away from who I truly was.

But my creative impulse simmered. In between eating truck loads of chocolate, I kept writing, writing, writing. And finally, with much prodding and dragging from dear friends and feeling shit scared, I have finally been brave enough to throw my feelings (and other women’s) out into the big wide world in the form of my noveI. Most of me now wants to be like Dolly and Claire, so after saying to myself for over 40 years – I would really like to learn the guitar, I am doing just that! So watch out Sydney. Much to my children’s horror, you may see me warbling in some dingy bar sometime soon. And there are a gazillion other novels coming too – maybe even songs.

My feelings terrify me. I’m scared. But I’ve eaten less in the last month than I have for maybe thirty years. I have walked, sang and danced more than I ever had before. Yes, feelings and uncertainity are scary, I have to tell you, but it is so much better than feeling nothing at all.

The Bachelorette…

The important things are discussed here…

I love TV, movies, music and books. I used to love magazines too – I still love Woman and Home.

I just read Debbie Harry’s biography and it’s fab – a real trip to NYC in the 70s. I love the new Bachelorette – Angie is sassy, funny and powerful.

Hello world!

Hello, and thank you so much for visiting my website!

My first novel, Love Song will be coming out in a few weeks and I am both crazily excited and terrified – I think in equal parts!

This book has all the feels – the laughs, the tears and the joy. I wrote it because I want to make women over the age of forty five laugh and reflect and remember who they were when all they think about was themselves…