women

When a Man Beats a Woman

The idolization of rugby players should never come at the cost of the women in their lives. We place these athletes on a pedestal and our adulation props up a sporting culture which seems inextricably linked with alcohol and violence. Our rugby players have helped ‘put Samoa on the map’ and there are those who have made immense contributions to our country – both on and off the field. There are many who are admirable role models for our youth and I have great respect for the work they do. But what about when a rugby ‘legend’ who now coaches and mentors the next generation of young men in the sport – is a wife-beater? Has abused and terrorized his wife over the years, throughout multiple historic world cup campaigns? And continues to attack her even after they have been divorced for going on two years? Domestic violence is a huge problem in our culture. If we as a country and as a people, want to sincerely address that problem, then we need to look at the ways we all contribute to it. With our silence, our apathy, or our rationalizing of abuse. Can we be as vocal, condemning abusive behavior from a rugby star when he punches a woman in the face – as we are cheering for him when he leads our team to victory? Samoans worldwide give our rugby players and national teams immense support. I wonder, will we be as generous and supportive to the woman who has survived years of living with fear and now is braving public scandal and censure to speak out about her abuse?

I have great admiration for my classmate and dear friend, Lemalu Sina Retzlaff, who has shared her story and spoken out publicly about domestic violence.  In doing so, she has given a voice and a face to domestic violence for Samoan women and the message is: ‘This is unacceptable, I won’t keep silent, and if I can speak out then so can you.’ Because of her ex-husband’s high international profile, she knew there would be widespread ramifications of her coming forward – and not all of those would be supportive or positive. Her courage, dignity and quiet strength is evident and will help to empower many other women who presently live in similar relationships. I’m grateful for her example and her friendship.

There are those protesting that, ‘there’s two sides to every story’ – which is an incredibly shameful and ignorant response, and highlights some of the mindset in our Samoan people that breeds violence against women. Hitting your partner (or, in this case, your EX-partner) is NEVER okay, regardless of what she does, how she dresses, where she goes or what she says. My thoughts are also with Sina and Brian’s children and how this impacts on them. Brian is an old school classmate and we share close family connections. I condemn his abusive choices but I have compassion for him, I know he loves his family very much. He MUST be held accountable for his actions by the legal/justice system, but I also hope he seeks and finds the help he needs to manage his anger and change his behavior as a father to his sons and a co-parent with his ex.  The fact is that just as there are very few support systems in place in Samoa to assist women living with abuse, there are also none to specifically help men learn how to communicate without violence. Too many of our young men are taught (by example) that a woman’s place is to be subservient and a hit/smack/punch is the easiest way to discipline a child…AND to solve every problem with your partner. As Sina talks about in the interview, it starts with small things – controlling behavior, intimidation, threats and bullying – and its vital to recognize those warning signs in the early stages of a relationship. Then, ideally, a couple can seek counselling and get help. But for that to happen, we need to get rid of the shame involved with getting help and we must stop justifying abusive behavior – in ourselves, our partners, our siblings, children or cousins…

Lemalu Sina Retzlaff, Interview with the Samoa Observer.

Lemalu Sina Retzlaff, Interview with the Samoa Observer.

Read Sina’s story at this link – http://www.samoaobserver.ws/home/headlines/8523-enough-is-enough

 

Sex-Breasts VS Milk-Making Ones

In this week’s Samoa Observer column, I get to talk about breasts. Yay fun!

“if breastfeeding is so good for everyone involved, then why is there sometimes an air of indelicate shame and discomfort about it in the ‘modern’ palagi country I currently live in?…The reaction to a woman feeding her baby in public as opposed to skulking in a dark corner (or toilet block) can sometimes range from awkward shifty eyes, to irritated muttering about indecency…”

Read the full article here: Samoa Observer

Samoa: A Sexist Culture that Oppresses Women?

In this week’s Samoa Observer column, I get to rave a little about feminism stuff in Samoa…

I have a five year old called Bella. The very last child that will ever alien-grow in my uterus, she is the supreme ruler of our universe – and woe be it unto any creature who does not understand that SHE should be the ruler of THEIR universe as well. (In other words, Bella is spoilt rotten. Yes I’m owning it. But let’s all agree it’s her father’s fault.)

Bella has announced that when she grows up, she’s going to “be a Princess, own an ice-cream shop, weld big buildings with my Dada and study bugs like the scientists on the Discovery Channel.” She also plans to “find a nice boy to marry, not a yucky one, and he will have the boy babies and I will have the girl babies.”

I like that my daughter believes with fierce intensity, that she can be anything and all things. Do any and all things. (Some of those things might have to be revised once she has a better understanding of biology… )

But it’s my hope she never lets go of that belief, my prayer that the world with all its soul-crushing weight of gendered roles and expectations doesn’t succeed in driving that fiery optimism out of her. Raising girls who are strong, confident, assertive – and happy to be so – is a challenge in any culture. Is it more so in Samoa?

Read the rest over at the Observer: Samoa – A Sexist Culture?

Does your Plumbing Leak?

If you’re a man – then you’re not allowed to read this blog.  None of my kids are allowed to read it either. If you choose to disobey this directive, then I cannot be held responsible for the feelings of horror and/or disgust that may ensue. You have been warned.

Today I want to talk about something nobody ever talked about to ME when I was approaching adulthood/womanhood and possible parenthood. Leakage. I want to know why in heck nobody ever told me that having babies – or even just growing up (and outward), could and most probably WOULD result in faulty pipes?!

Because I am the granddaughter of a plumber, I shall now revert to using appropriate plumbing terminology.  You can rest easy about discussing YOUR leaky pipes here because Im related to a trained professional. *Assumes plumber persona..serious face, clears throat,  cough cough no, dont do that! Coughing is BAD for pipes!*

Lets talk about leakage. What is it?  It’s when your tap drips, dribbles – or just plain ole gushes when you dont want it to. As in when it’s not actually turned on. Ladies in the house, you know what I’m talking about?

*You sneeze. Oh no…. You make a quick exit.

*You laugh a little too loud, a little too much. Dammit!…Dash from the room.

*Your kid bamboozles you into joining them on the trampoline. Bad. Idea. You jump. Stuff dribbles down your leg.  Quick, get off the trampoline.

*The stupid instructor wants everyone to do enthusiastic Jumping Jacks! ‘Come on now, you can do it! Higher! Faster!’ But you’re not stupid. Hell no. You know what can happen during a jump. A leap. A hop. Pipes burst. No, not doing it. The stupid instructor singles you out, ‘Yoohoo, you’re not jumping!’ No kidding lady. Talk to the hand. Actually, better yet, talk to my a** as I walk out of this stupid cardio class. And go to the bathroom.

This leakage occurs for a number of different factors that affect the inner tubing of the appropriate pipes. Reasons like –

*You’ve got an elephant baby growing in your uterus and its pushing on your bladder.

*You’ve pushed an elephant baby out of your lady parts and now they’re just tired and don’t want to be flexed and fit and toned and on guard all the time.

*You’re fat.  (Because you’ve devoted your body, life and soul to the well-being of those elephants and it requires that you drown your exhaustion in lots of cake and ice cream so you can extract SOME small measure of happiness in an otherwise miserable existence.) And your excessive fatness means your piping is stressed. And tired.

*You are young and too sporty. You do too much exercise.  – I’m not making this up! Honest! I did some exhaustive research so I could offer you all this very scientifically helpful blog. Here’s a direct quote from a very clever medical professional. “Women in high-impact sports are at highest risk — parachuters, gymnasts, runners. In these sports, you’re hitting the ground hard, which can damage pelvic muscles and connective tissue that support the bladder.” See ladies? More evidence that it just sucks to be a woman. You’ll pee your pants if you’re too fat. AND you’ll pee your pants if you aren’t too fat. Remember that next time you covet an elite athlete’s skin and bones. (I’m really sad about this leaky fact. I mean, damn, I was totally planning on taking up parachuting this year. There goes another dream down the toilet.)

*You are old. And its even worse if you’re menopausal. More dreary leaky medical facts,  “About 25% to 45% of women suffer from urinary incontinence, defined as leakage at least once in the past year. The rates of urinary incontinence increase with age: 20%-30% of young women , 30%-40% of middle-aged women, and up to 50% of older women suffer from urinary incontinence.” The things I have to look forward to as I approach the precipice of forty…

If nothing else, I want you to read this blog and take heart in the fact that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You’re not the only one with plumbing issues. So what can we do about it? (Thank goodness for Google. How did anybody get expert medical advice before the internet was invented? The mind boggles. The plumbing gurgles.)

Google Medicine tells us about Kegels. You all know what those are – squeeze your lady parts exercise which is vaguely reminiscent of something sexual goddesses in an Arabian Nights pleasure house do to send people into paroxysms of excitement. ( I may or may not have read about this supposed practise in a bodice-ripping Mills and Boon romance. Hmm.) Kegels requires lots of concentration, especially if you’re just starting out. If you see a woman sitting very still with a tensed, deeply focused expression on her face and a kind of twitchiness about her? She’s probably a Kegels-newbie. Don’t disturb her. I can’t personally vouch for the success rate of Kegels because like all my good intentions – I put them on my List of Very Important Things to Do. And then forget to do most of them. Let’s be honest,contracting your lady part muscles is a lot like HARD WORK. It’s right up there with DO 50 SIT-UPS EVERY MORNING.  Laugh with me now derisively, Ha, ha, ha…who has time or energy to do 50 situps when they have to prep school lunch boxes, do laundry at 5am so kids can have clean uniforms to wear and etc etc. Maybe if you’re a Kegels devotee you do them all the time without even thinking about it. Heck, maybe you get paroxysms of delight while youre kegelling. Good for you! I’m thinking though, that for most of us women – we’re all doing some kegels while reading ( or in my case, while writing) this blog. For the very first time this week. Just cos seeing the word reminded us we should be doing them. Everybody – squeeze, hold, release! Repeat!

Some men are under the mistaken assumption that women do Kegels because they want to ensure peak sexual fulfillment for and with their partners. Ha. Ha. Ha. Maybe thats true for some amazing women who star in Sex and the City fantasies. But most of the women I’ve ever discussed plumbing issues with would agree with me when I say – Sorry guys, we really don’t care about your sexual enjoyment/ fulfillment. No. We care about whether or not we’re going to pee our pants the next time we laugh. Sneeze. Jump when a cockroach runs out at us.  Or if we run after the ice cream truck.

There’s various other things women can do to try to improve their plumbing. But some of them sound kinda freaky to me. Like electrical stimulation using a probe device. Yeah, like you want to get your vagina zapped. (Okay, maybe some women like that idea…to each their own!) And there’s a traditional Chinese therapy using an egg. (Don’t ask. Google it if you’re brave enough.)

For me, “gentle” (translation, “lazy people”) exercise always results in better plumbing. A few years ago, I did a 100km team  relay in Samoa with a group of six women. When I first started “training” (staggering) for the event, I couldnt even power walk 100m without an accident. I’m most proudest of the fact that I ran/walked/stumbled kajillions of km over mountains and rabid-dog-infested roads without having a plumbing malfunction once. Now THAT’S epic! THAT’s an achievement I want written on my headstone.

Its not easy for a man to ‘get it’. Not even a man as enlightened and well-trained and domesticated as the Hot Man. I started (trying) to get some regular exercise into my life a few weeks back. This morning I announced excitedly to the love of my life,  “Babe, guess what?!”

What?

“Today I went for a run and didnt have a problem. No leaks, no nothing! Isnt that awesome!?”

He didnt look excited for me. Or about me. He looked like he just stepped in something nasty. “Do you really have to share that with me?”

“Duh, of course I do. You’re my best friend and its a sign of fabulous progress and Im super excited about it. Besides, who else can I tell?”

He looked pained. “I wish you didnt tell me. I wish I didnt have to hear that.” He made a hasty exit. But then he poked his head back in the room for a second with a devious smile on his face. “I’ve got an idea, why dont you blog about it? Tell your blogger world friends. I bet theres lots of women who would LOVE to chat about it.” Then he guffawed. Because the man thinks his wife would NEVER blog about something as embarassing as leaky plumbing.

Oh Hot Man… Challenge accepted!

Ladies – let this be a welcoming space for sharing Leaky Plumbing-ness. And if it hasnt happened to you (yet), then go chase an ice-cream truck and leave the rest of us to commiserate in peace. And laugh (carefully) as we hope for the day when you too have plumbing issues.

Oh, and if you want to read more about plumbing then here’s a useful link.  

http://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/features/incontinence-womans-little-secret

I am Enough.

I blinked and 2012 streaked naked through my life, my messy house. And then it was gone. Just like that. Hello 2013!

Right, so I’m going to do something revolutionary (for me) this year.  I am not going to start the new year making a list of all the things I hate about myself and how to fix them. Lists for how to be prettier, nicer, smarter, skinnier, friendlier, wiser, neater and all the other kinds of stupid’er things I’m supposed to be in fantasy land. Ha. I am NOT even going to make any fitness and weight loss goals. I am not going to commit to running in any 102km relays. I am NOT going to visualize how happy I will be when I lose twenty pounds. Or get boob implants. Liposuction. A nip. Tuck. Botox. I’m not even going to waste a single minute cursing the science research/medical industry that wont invest money and effort into devising a pill that gives you instant boob implants, liposuction, plastic surgery and botox. A painless, simple, cheap pill. I’m not going to knock down Jenny Craig’s door the minute they open after the New Year holiday for cardboard food I will hate eating. Or buy an insanely overpriced gym membership to a gym I will hate going to.

No. Not wasting a breath on any of that crap this year.

Because this is the year that I turn forty thirty-six. I am not a simpering, eyelash-batting, breathy-voiced teenager freaking out over acne and wondering whether some cute boy likes me. And I am not a self-obsessed, self-possessed, party-going, table-dancing, skank mini-skirt wearing twenty-something year old either. Or a people-pleasing yes-kid starving for affirmation.

 I am a WOMAN, dammit. A 5″10, CENSORED pound woman who’s given birth to four children and tried to stay sane while raising five. A big, brown Polynesian woman with big hips, bold thighs, and lush curves in unwanted unexpected places. I’ve got centipede pattern stitch scars across my non-existent ab’s from triple c-sections. And whispered tiger stripe stretch marks everywhere else that tell their story of baby growing. Breasts that have nourished life – and bled for it. Arms that have rocked a crying child a thousand times, a thousand nights. Hands that have labored over chocolate cakes, kids homework from hell, hair braiding, kids’ eczema, cleaned up puke, poop, paint and parties, given hugs (and yeah, maybe these hands have pinched naughty kids a few times too…wielded a salu…possibly)

 I am a mother with a loud voice who can laugh with her children, cry with them and fight for them.  I am a wife with a patient heart who knows how to love through the good, the bad and the ugly times. I am a daughter who knows that the best way to love her parents – is from a distance – with carefully constructed fences of self-built self-worth. I am a sister who’s made mistakes – and is learning from them. I am a teacher who knows how to make learning a journey of discovery with her students. I am an author who writes Pasifika love stories – and loves it.  I am blessed. I am grateful.

I am all these things and more. I am me and I am not going to waste time on trying to be anything different. This quote from a very wise woman, Marjorie Hinckley is perfect, “We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are.” I think I am finally ready to stop trying to prove myself.

This year, I will not be driven by self-loathing. This year I will endeavour to incorporate into my life – more of those elements that uplift, energize and inspire me. For example, I hate running (and dieting). With a passion. But I love love love dancing. (and eating.) With a passion. This year I’m going to sign up for fun stuff like Hot Hula and also finally learn how to tango. (hopefully the Hot Man will agree to sign up to be my Antonio-Banderas-dance partner!) I’m going to make the time to prepare the foods that I love and take a cooking class so I can stop eating cans of tuna for dinner followed by three different kinds of cake (since thats all I know how to make with any kind of skill…) Bring on the seafood extravaganza menu!

I want to (finally) learn to swim. Go to a Coldplay concert. Meet up with fabulous author friends at the RT Convention in the US. Write more books about lots of luscious, bold Pasifika women (and beautiful hot guys…of course) Take the Fab5 to Disneyland. Get my NZ driver’s license so I can actually drive OUTSIDE West Auckland, see more of New Zealand with my family.  Get out of my hermit cave more. I will try new things and search for new experiences that will bring joy to my life and the lives of those I love.

My resolutions for 2013? To be fierce, fiery and bold – in person and not just on paper. To love better, dance and laugh more. To be content with me.

To say, ‘I am enough.’ And mean it.

What do you hope for from YOUR 2013?

There are Some Skank Ho’s in West Auckland

There are some skanky ho’s living in West Auckland. And they aint got no shame. At all. But what makes it worse? Little Son thinks they are wonderful, delightsome creatures…

The Hot Man was being kind and thoughtful. He took all the children off my hands so I could write. (Yay for the Hot Man.) He delivered teenagers to their Youth activity. And then he scored himself points in Little Kid’s heaven by taking them to McDonalds’s for dinner. (Even tho we already had a healthy balanced dinner for them at home. Yay for the Hot Man.) He sent the Terrible Trio to go play in the playground while he sat guard over their Happy Meals. I must interject here and tell you that I got all the following info from my spies. They’re highly trained, dedicated sleuths. Otherwise known as Little Daughter and Bella Beast.  Now on with my tale.

Picture it…There’s the Hot Man, minding his own Hot business…when along comes a pretty, skinny-yet-luscious, single mom, busting out of her clothes with abundant friendliness. (As skank ho’s do.) She lights up like a Xmas tree at the sight of the Hot Man and descends upon him. Introduces herself, tells him about her divorced single-mom state. Tells him how much she loves to make new friends. Meet new people. Try new things. Go out partying when she’s not skankin at McDonalds. 

He tells her he’s married. She thinks thats wonderful! He tells her he’s got five kids. She thinks thats precious! He tells her he’s just taken over as the full-time parent, taking care of the kids while his wife is writing. She thinks thats just darrrling!

She then goes for gold. (As skank ho’s do.) “I’m free during the day too! We should totally get together and hang out!”   (Can you tell that I’m punching holes in my laptop as I write this with viciousness and repressed volcano fury?)

At this moment, Little Daughter and Little Son come running over because they have seen this friendly exchange taking place. As this woman tries to jump their Dad’s bones right there in the Family Restaurant. The woman is not deterred. Oh no. She oozes slimy charm. “Are these your children? Ohmigosh they’re soooo adorable! Hi kids!”

Little Daughter ( bless her devoted heart) is unimpressed. Suspicious. She sidles up to the Hot Man, whispers, “Dad, why is this woman talking to you so much?”

Little Son on the other hand, reveals his true traitorous nature and revels in the skank ho’s affections. She GIVES MY FREAKIN’ BETRAYER SON A HUG AND HE LIKES IT. He nudges the Hot Man with a grin, “Dad, who’s your girlfriend? She’s so pretty!” 

The woman is encouraged by his comment. She asks the Hot Man for his phone number. (HELLO! WHAT THE HELL KINDA WORLD IS THIS WHEN CHICKS CAN USE THE GOLDEN ARCHES TO LIGHT UP THEIR “VACANT and HOT” SIGN?!) The Hot Man refuses. She tries to give him HER number. He refuses. Little Daughter is not happy. “Dad, why does she want your phone number? Why is she hugging Zach?”

Somehow they manage to extricate themselves safely from the woman’s clutches. She waves at them as they drive off. “See you again!”

They come home to the writer who’s been slaving her fingers to the bone surfing banana cream pie recipes on AllRecipes.com.  They tell her about what happened. Little Daughter is indignant.  “My Dad kept telling her no and she kept trying to give him her phone number!” Little Daughter is only ten but already she can spot a skanky-seductress-homewrecker-trashy tart a mile away. I am going to leave Little Daughter lots of things in my will. Like all my banana cream pie recipes. And my extensive Telesa tattoo research. And lots and lots of love with ice cream and chocolate sauce on top.

I am really annoyed with Skank-Ho’s that hang out at McDonalds jumpin on other people’s Hot Men.  I’m not a Fire Goddess like Leila in my Telesa books, but I’m sure I could get all fierce and feisty and kick-ass with this woman if I could meet her in person. I could like….ummm…attack her with my words. Waste her with witticisms. Mash her with metaphors. Amaze her with alliteration and analogies and really scary stuff like that. So there, so there. Take that.

I told Hot Man I was going to blog about her and he was horrified. “No don’t. What if she reads your blog? You cant call people skanky ho’s on your blog!”  I said, “Dont be ridiculous. Skank-Ho’s dont read. Blogs. They’re too busy slut’ting all over the place and having a good time with idiots who fall for their tricks.”

But you know who I’m REALLY mad at?

Little Son.

Traitor. Selling his own mother out for a pretty face and a sleazy smile.

(Oh yeah, and I’m also kinda miffed. Cos I’ve taken those kids to McDonalds a kazillion times. And nobody ever hit on me ever…. *sniff sniff* )

Women who Sanction and Encourage Domestic Violence

In the past few years, we have opened our home to several different women (and their children) who have needed ‘refuge’ from their abusive partners. And I’m not talking about the ‘He said my butt looked big in this dress and hurt my feelings...’ kind of abuse. I’m talking about : punches in the face, knocking out teeth, hitting with a steel chair, breaking of bones, abuse of children, bruising, choking, threats to kill/maim/punish, smashing of furniture and property etc.The kind of abuse that has been ongoing for years. All of these women had little or no faith/confidence in the police and legal system to protect them. “He’ll kill me if I go to the police…” Some of them did not want to report their abusers because “I love him…I don’t want him to go to prison…He’s very sorry…He’s going to change…He’s the father of my children…etc” I have reported their abuse to the police and had these women conceal their bruises and deny everything when the police come knocking.

Of these women, only ONE went on to separate from and then divorce her husband, effectively ‘getting out’ of the abusive situation. She has gone on to make a ‘new’ life for herself and her child, having little or no contact with her former partner. The other women went back to their relationships.Are they living happily ever after? In spite of all their attempts to pretend otherwise – their partners are still violent and heavily influenced by alcohol and possible drug abuse. One of the women we have never heard from again and sometimes I wonder if she’s even still alive.

But this is not a post about how awful men can be to the women they “love.” Or how sick and twisted a problem like domestic violence is. How prevalent it is.  No. That would be beating a dead horse. This post is about the women who sanction, encourage and enable domestic violence and abuse. The mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, grandmothers of the abusers and their victims. Because let’s face it, the majority of these men have been raised primarily by WOMEN. Yes, they all go on to make their own choices in adulthood, but what are we doing and saying as mothers/sisters/in-laws/friends etc that adds fuel to that fire of violent stupidity that says “It’s okay for a man to hit his partner.”

Here’s some examples of comments I have heard uttered in complete seriousness when confronted with this issue. All of these made by women.

* “He’s like that because he doesn’t have a son yet. When she finally has a boy then her husband will settle down and treat her better.”
* “I’ve told her so many times that she needs to make sure his food is ready for him when he comes home. He gets angry because he’s worked hard all day and she doesn’t make his dinner.”
* “She nags him all the time. If she just learned how to keep her mouth shut then none of that stuff would happen.”
*”It’s her job. She spends too much time at work and the family suffers. He doesn’t like her job, that’s why he hits her.”
*”Every couple has problems. It’s none of our business how a man treats his wife. We can’t interfere in his family.”
*”My son was never like that before he married her. She makes him so mad.”
* “She’s too weak, that’s why he treats her like that. She doesn’t fight back and stand up for herself. I told him he should have married a stronger woman.”
* “Oh that bruise is nothing.That’s not abuse. I don’t know why you’re complaining. You should see what my husband does to me. And you don’t see me running to the police.”

So to all the mothers, sisters, in-laws, aunts and grandmothers out there – what are you doing and saying about domestic violence? What are you teaching the men in your circle of influence about how to treat the women they love? What messages are you giving to the girls/women in your circle of influence about how they should treat the men they love and how they should expect to be treated?

Domestic violence. It’s not a man problem. It’s everyone’s problem.

Women – why do we always put ourselves last on the list?

*I make sure my kids eat several servings of fruit and vegetables a day. You can’t have a cookie until you eat that banana. No Xbox if you don’t have that brocoli.  – But I can’t remember the last time I ate a vegetable. Not unless carrot cake counts.

* I am the Enforcer of Bedtime because it’s important for children to get a good night’s sleep. But if I go to bed at midnght, that counts as ‘early’ for me. If I get five hours of sleep a night, I count myself lucky. I am perpetually tired.

* I chase children outside “for fresh air and exercise” on a daily basis. Turn off that TV and go play/run around the block/weed the garden/jump on the trampoline… They need to move and groove to be healthy. But too many times, I will cancel my run/water walking/gym visit because I HAVE to cook dinner / supervise homework / clean the kitchen or even rearrange throw cushions on the sofa.A zillion other things take precedence over me getting ‘fresh air and exercise’. Most of those things involve house and family. Contrast this with the Hot Man. He can get up and go for an hour long run even though the house is a mess, there’s no food cooked and the laundry is piled up to the ceiling. Is it because he’s ‘lazy and doesn’t care’ about the housework? OR is it because, as he so frequently reminds me – ‘your health is more important than dirty dishes. The children and the house are fine. Forget all this and just GO FOR A RUN.

Which begs the question – why am I so good at taking care of my children, and so rotten at taking care of myself?

As women, we are often raised/taught to be the nurturers. The caregivers. The multi-tasking, multi-talented organizers of homes and families, not to mention workplaces, church groups and community organizations. On the list of priorities, we often place ourselves last. After partners, children, extended family and even pets, dishes, and an unscrubbed bathtub. Otherwise we feel guilty, like we are selfish creatures. The problem with this is that eventually, our bodies, minds and souls suffer. We are run-down, stressed out, overworked, out of breath, and what’s worse – we are seething with resentment as we brood upon all ‘all the sacrifices I’m making for this family/job/partner /church /goldfish’. When I’m exhausted and none of my clothes fit because I haven’t worked out in months – yes I hate myself. But I’m also angry at my children – for ‘making me’ fat in the first place with all the demands they place on my time. And annoyed with the Hot Man because he can go running oblivious to mess while I can’t. (and of course he’s the one who gave me all these kids in the first place…I used to rock with the body of a supermodel dammnit! Before these children destroyed it.) Yes, that’s right – it’s everyone else’s fault that I put them first on the list. Totally.

You want to know the crazy thing though? My husband and my children WANT me to exercise, sleep more and eat better. They WANT me to go watch a movie instead of cleaning out the pantry. Relax with a book instead of re-arranging their drawers. ‘Mum, did you go to the pool today? I think you should go now. Mum, what time did you go to sleep last night? Why don’t you go have a nap? We’ll take care of things…’ Why? They want me to bump myself further up on the Priorities List because when I am rested, energized, and fit – I am a happier, nicer woman. They love me and want me to be happy.

So why can’t I love myself enough to want the same thing?

Enough. This madness has got to stop. My gift to myself this Christmas is the gift of “selfishness”. Of love. I will love myself enough to start taking better care of me. More sleep. More ‘fresh air and exercise’. More balanced and regular meals.More down-time. I will re-arrange my list of priorities so that it better reflects how much my family loves me. And how much I need to love myself.

It starts now. The place is a mess with post-Xmas debris. Who knows what they will eat for dinner? But me? I’m going to have a nap. And when I wake up, I might go out and join Bella on the trampoline.

How about you? Where are you on YOUR list of priorities?

Really Dumb Things Women Do

Some pictures need no explanation. I just want to say, in my defence – I’m 18, at University, and the affordable hair straightener hadn’t been invented yet. 
And how else was I supposed to get hair that looked like this?
So, its YOUR turn. What dumb things have YOU done in the name of ‘beauty’?! Are you brave enough to confess them? LOL