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    Sailor Jerry Spiced Carribean Rum

    Sailor Jerry Spiced Carribean Rum – the best thing you’ll ever drink, hands down.

    sailor jerry

    If I’m going to get myself a bit stupid, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum is always going to be my choice of drink!

    Whenever I order it from a bar, I get lots of questions about it and end up offering sips around to anyone who is willing to try something new (and amazing) and take a damn step back away from the poison that it any cheap mixer drink that will discolour your tongue.

    Don’t be fooled in to making a face and thinking that this rum is anything like Bacardi or any other white rum that we’ve all had regretful experiences with (hello, umm trying laying in a hotel shower recess at 6 in the morning crying and moaning and trying to waffle-stomp my own vomit down the drain), this is spiced rum and the taste is completely different.

    Sailor Jerry was named after American tattooist and Navy-man, Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins who had a tattoo shop west of Honolulu, Hawaii. This area was a leaving shore for service-men who were coming and going during the war. Norman, “Sailor Jerry” Collins built up a reputation for vibrant and bold designs and was the first westerner to learn directly from Japanese Tattoo Artists and to, in his words, beat them at their own game.

    Jerry’s tattoos were bold and flawless and the makers of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum feel as though they hold themselves to the exact same standard.

    To drink straight, this rum is smooth with hints of vanilla and cinnamon to the point of seeming a little caramel-y. It warms the tongue and goes down with ease leaving no bitterness or after-burn that some spiced rums can leave.

    Sailor Jerry goes down amazingly easy (a little too easy) on a hot night. Sometimes I add a little lemonade (Australian lemonade, not traditional lemonade, equiv of sprite or 7up?) and lime to it, or else soda water or mineral water.

    The other awesome thing about Sailor Jerry is that it comes with incredibly cool packaging with labels that change from time-to-time. There have been many limited editions that we’ve had over the past including A4 sized posters of tattoo pin-up girls and more. Currently, we have noticed an entire black glass bottle limited edition with (four?) different labels. And everyone who reads this blog understands that I’m a huge sucker for packaging.

    So… there’s my review and soft push for you all to go pick up a bottle and drink yourselves stupid while singing your favourite sea-shanty. Just not so stupid that you can’t enjoy it. 🙂

    Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum Page *This is not a paid/sponsored review

     

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Review)

    If you are looking for a thrilling bit of book that sucks you in and takes you in to a world of whimsy and slight oddness, than this book is something you should run away from, stat.

    peregrine's

    In 2015, my friends bought me this book as a late birthday present. I loved the visual aids and thought it was going to be so good.

    I decided I would make it my 2017 first read and I was totally let down. Totally.

    I don’t usually bitch and complain about books because I like to acknowledge that it’s a difficult process and well, let’s face it… no one like’s to have any old nobody come and take a giant shit on their hard work and hours of effort…

    It started off soooooo good! Jacob’s grandfather is the only surviving member of his family during the holocaust and is sent to stay in a home where he was protected from the Nazi’s. Jacob has a close-knit relationship with his grandfather who told him stories of his peculiar friends from the home. Jacob eats it all up until he is at a coming of age and realises that none of it could possibly be true.

    Jacob is a poor little rich boy who has no friends (and I’m not surprised, because he’s a snivelling little shit) and hates his mediocre life even though he obviously has two great parents who love and care for him.

    When Jacob’s grandfather starts making gibberish comments and stops answering his phone, Jacob finds him at his house after dark, dying in the scrub behind his house. Jacob sees monsters and his grandfather’s dying words become a riddle which he spends the next 100 or so pages trying to decipher.

    Honestly, it was kind of dragging by that stage. I downloaded the audio book to listen to to and from work because its harder to stop ‘reading’ when you’re driving.

    All of it turned in to a mess of time travel, time loops, odd children with forced dialogue and odd storylines. (The grandfather’s sweetheart turns in to Jacobs…) he decides to stay in the 1933 time loop and his dad is totally okay with it all. He realises after time that he’s also peculiar and has special powers or some crap…

    To be honest, I stopped paying a lot of attention because I was either raging out a Camry driver or I got lost in the excessive plot.

    Honestly, the book could have been a thousand times better. The peculiar characters could have been better and I could have felt less underwhelmed as the book came to a close.

    My friend told me that perhaps the movie would be better in this case – especially given that it’s a Tim Burton film. Makes sense right?

    WRONG!

    The movie was so much worse. Jacob was the most emotionless character I’d ever seen. His acting was terrible. Mrs. Peregrine was smug and almost evil. I hated it. I watched about 45 minutes before deciding that it missed so much of the actual detail that without reading the book one would probably be confused.

    So, not only was money spent on the hardcopy, but I also had a Kindle version that I read from bed. I also bought the audio companion from Amazon … and then spent $6.99 on the movie rental.

    I spent so much money on such a crap book.

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    My rating: 2 of 5 stars

    View all my reviews

    The Wrong Girl – Zoë Foster-Blake Review

    wrong girl

    Wrong Girl by Zoë Foster-Blake is your average enjoyable rom-com chick-lit book for those who aren’t looking too hard to find purpose in a very, very fictional story.

    I’m by no means a book snob. Sometimes I want to read the way I watch TV: without having to think too hard.

    What I mean by this, is that sometimes I enjoy watching the Kardashians or The Vanderpump rules show – not because the people are likeable or that the story or characters are incredibly thrilling, but because it serves it’s cheap purpose: entertainment.

    wrong girl

    Chick-lit books are all similar in storyline and purpose and The Wrong Girl was really no different.

    Girl is self-deprecating. Girl has model-looking girlfriends and is considered the odd one out in a circle full of otherwise carbon copies. Girl is quirky, clumsy but apparently also adorable in her awkwardness that is supposed to be the one thing that sets her apart.

    Hot, strapping, beautiful species of male turns up and crazily enough has the personality and perfect amount of mature communication skills to boot.

    Man sees the beauty in girl and takes on her annoying emotional self-loathe and turns saves the day and turns her in to some strong, independent (lols) take-no-shit woman that because of the way her man builds her up, manages to overcome subplot; this could be kicking away the dead weight friends that make her feel so bad about herself, give up drugs, shopping or other “cute” addiction or even a career advancement.

    I pretty much summed up The Wrong Girl in this summary which happens to be the same formula for most chick-lit books. This is written in a characteristically Australian way which sometimes made me cringe and other times made me feel like I was proud of Foster-Blake. It was a cute story that I struggled for a short while to get in to which may have not been due to the writing, but perhaps more to do with personal circumstance.

    I liked the characters in The Wrong Girl but couldn’t help but to wonder why her best friend (from the first few chapters) was just long-forgotten after the plot began to unfold. Did the author forget him? Given that they were supposed to be friends for 10 or so years, I was surprised by how quickly the MC gave him the heave-ho. Seemed odd.

    This Wrong Girl has been transformed to an Australian TV show that was vastly different to the novel. Given that most books far outweigh the TV/Movie adaptation, I was pretty happy with the TV show. I have to admit I liked it better than the book; perhaps the beautiful hunk that is Jack was played by a stunning indigenous man which doesn’t happen to often on Australian TV.

    Overall, I enjoyed the light-hearted book. It wasn’t my favourite read of 2016, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at another book by Zoë Foster-Blake in the future.

    The Wrong GirlThe Wrong Girl by Zoë Foster
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    View all my reviews

    2017 New Year New Me!

    Joking, joking. I’m going to be the same as I have been every year, changed only by the hard times that have shaped me.

     

    Each year I like to acknowledge the passing of the year and rather than really having a resolution list, I like to set new goals or think about ways that I can challenge myself. I also like to reflect back and see what’s changed as well as what I’ve achieved.

    2016 has been a really shitty awful/bitter sweet year but I think I am ready to get back in to things.

    I have actually achieved some things in 2016 that I had on my goal list – ones that I thought were more just kind of pipe dreams, and for those things I am proud.

    It was also the year that I lost my Mum and so closing that chapter on my life comes with great regret and sadness.

    This was a year of learning who my friends are and who my friends aren’t. It was about my eyes opening to the true colours of those in my life and those who were in my family’s life.

    I learned in 2016 that you will make time for those who you want to make time for.

    In 2017 I have a few plans that I really hope to achieve;

    I have written a book in 2016 and I hope to perfect the manuscript and start sending it out to publishers and if that doesn’t go ahead, I will begin to start researching self-publishing a little more seriously.

    I have a business venture that I have been thinking about for a little while that I will explore within the next few months.

    I want to go to Japan, Hawaii and New York.

    I want to up my fitness training and start saving money more seriously.

    I also want to stop getting riled up over stupid things and love and cherish those that I choose to have in my life and stop being so selfish where I can.

    My new reading challenge is 35 books and I’ve began to choose which books I’ll read – that means I’ll be picking up my reviews again 🙂

    — so that’s basically all for now, I hope everyone had a great New Year my next post will be about my New Year’s Eve.

    Ready Or Not…

    Not going to lie, I’m still reeling a little bit from my Mums death and I haven’t really felt compelled to write anything here in a little while.

    I am a little unmotivated, a little sad, a little lonely and feeling as though everything is still incredibly surreal.

    I guess it’s a giant adjustment to say goodbye to someone that you spoke with almost every day of your life.

    Every now and then I think of how she was back in July or August and I’m confused as to how she lost her life so fast. It doesn’t seem like it was fair or that there was enough warning.

    I didn’t really believe that I would be celebrating my first Christmas without her in 2016. And trust me, Christmas without my Mum is going to be weird and devastating and the thought of it actually makes my stomach churn.

    Christmas was my Mums favourite time of the year. She got excited about it and enjoyed planning what to cook, who she would be entertaining and especially loved the gift giving part of things. The last two Christmas’ were great and I found myself in a bit of a role reversal, buying her lots of stuff because I absolutely adored her hilarious reaction to gifts.

    Everyone that I’ve spoken to has felt really indifferent to Christmas and maybe I feel that way this year because of everything that has happened, but I know I’m going to miss the fun part of it; of having her there not being a grinch about things but rather being excited and happy for the day to come along.

    I’ll be taking it easy this year– I’ll be probably hanging out at home for the most part… and maybe sleeping it away depending on how I feel. Which, let’s be honest, will probably be shit.

    Short and long of it, right now I really miss my Mum and I feel it most on my alone weekends and when I get home to an empty house.

    I have my things to keep me busy, but I’m sure it’s tangled up in an element of avoidance because when I stop, I feel like I’m going to realise that she isn’t coming back.

    So for now, I’ll just keep myself busy.

    I’ve read The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster-Blake to finish my 30 books for 2016 goal, so I’ll aim to post that review soon.

    Meanwhile, check out my cousin and my blog for our business: http://www.bigcuzlittlecuz.com/blog/

    Back from hiatus after losing my Mum

    Hi everyone,

    I’m back, I think.

    Although, given what’s happened I don’t know if I’m ready to be back at anything, so time will tell as to whether or not I want to take more time away from regular life and given that I didn’t have a superficial relationship with my Mum, my loss is great, I don’t know if I know what regular life feels like anymore.

    But I’ll try.

    Where I left off: 

    On October 10th my Mum had two massive seizures which changed the course of what life my day-to-day life was and she never came home from hospital.

    I had my 33rd birthday on the 14th.

    On the 15th, I had a trip to go to Queensland with my cousin booked. I debated for a week and some as to whether or not I go and my stepdad and I agreed that there wasn’t really much I could do at home, so I went for my 5 day trip. I don’t regret going, but I did spend most of my time there feeling guilty about not being with my Mum. In hindsight, I don’t regret going because what was waiting for me back home when I returned was something I may have not been able to emotionally manage without that break.

    I spent a lot of time in between trying to read different books for blogging purposes but found nothing that held my interest — perhaps this was more to do with my state of mind rather than a problem with the books.

    After my trip my time was spent literally every second day driving back and forth to and from the hospital where my Mum was located and trying to keep myself together enough to visit her without falling apart, continue working without letting anyone down, combating my mental health, trying not to direct the anger that I felt toward my friends or my boyfriend and … breathe.

    On November 6th my Mum passed away in a way that was both expected and unexpected. We had all hoped and prayed that she would turn a corner and be well enough to come home after treatment. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be.

    The important thing was that my Mum was surrounded by the most important people in her life for the last few days and was cared for beautifully by unforgettable staff of the facility where she was being kept comfortable. It devastates me that we were unable to bring her home like she so desperately wanted to be, but it just wasn’t to be. She passed away in our arms, quite literally and there wasn’t a single other way I would have wanted it.

    I think if it weren’t for the support from my family and friends, I would probably be in a heap somewhere…

    Even writing the words above are hard to do without falling apart. Again.

    In between all of that, I was incredibly sick and it turned out that I actually had pneumonia. My brother and I suspect it was due to the fact that I slept in the cold, baron part of my Mum and Stepdad’s house with cold, wet hair after we left the nursing home for the last time. The weekend she passed happened to be one of the coldest mornings that I can remember. I slept minimally for the next few days which probably didn’t help – running purely on adrenalin until the funeral passed.

    I’ve only just come out the other side of being sick but I still can’t stop coughing when I’m in the middle of a fit. Not fun.

    My friends stayed at my house and were great for laughs and for someone to try all the places where I wanted to eat but didn’t want to go alone.
    My workmates were incredibly supportive and some went as far as feeling the weight of my sadness and helping out in practical ways.
    My cousin helped me plan out my goals and plans going forward week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year.
    My boyfriend has been endless in doling out his affections, support and love as usual, even if it’s not always fun for him — or really either of us.
    Everyone else has been amazing in offering support in kind ways, practical ways and emotionally.

    My cousin stayed the longest, offering her pragmatic support which has been good at keeping my mind busy so that when life does feel a bit normal again, I can do all of the things that I have wanted to do but didn’t get the chance because I was 1, emotionally exhausted, 2, too busy with my Mum, 3, didn’t feel timing was right.

    Tomorrow I go back to work for the first time in three weeks. I am unsure about how to feel about that or whether or not I feel ready, but I do feel like the routine is going to do me the world of good.

    Afternoon drinking is probably not going to work out very good for me if I keep going as I am.

    I started reading again this week, so I suppose a book review will be on the way and I plan to post some photos of the month and a half where life went a bit awry.

    In the meantime, my cousin has been working really hard on our business so you could check that out — we have some really cool new products and if you use bfriday16 promo code, you can get 20% off until tomorrow. http://www.bigcuzlittlecuz.com

    Rest now, Mum…

    This is the eulogy that I somehow managed to read at my Mother’s funeral on the 15th of Nov, 2016. Posted for those who were unable to hear parts of it due to my sniffling, voice cracking or just cos they were busy snivelling themselves. (This was shortened on the day)

    For anyone who knows me and who also knows my Mum, they’ll be able to attest to how similarly our minds think.

    Standing here now talking in a serious way at her funeral seems unreal, because the loose plans we made for this to happen are not the way its playing out right now.

    Jokingly, on a trip to Sydney one time, Mum and I started talking about how we want our funeral to go. It was not this. We started by agreeing that we would want our presence to be missed – none of this, celebrate-my-life crap, but really, you know, feel the pain… that if guests weren’t grieving appropriately, they should be removed by an usher.

    An Usher who happened also to be Usher – the singer… Usher the singer sounded good, but what sounded even better was the idea of one of our best friend’s actually arriving down the aisle on the back of a pot-bellied pig with a lasso and the threat to remove anyone who wasn’t wailing loudly and comically over their loss.

    However, there’s probably no need to have that designated piggy-cowboy turn up, because I am sure everyone here feels that loss and that grief just the same as I do right now.

    Many people knew my Mum to be a certain way – to all jokes, humour, bluntness and coca-cola… not a lot of people knew my Mum like I did.

    mebruisermid70s

    My Mum was loyal, dependable, protective, sensitive, supportive, loving, kind, compassionate and the absolute best friend that someone could ever hope to have. You always knew where you stood with her and she always told you what you thought to your face. She was also hilarious and quick-witted and had a lot of good stories to share.

    Those who have known my Mum for as long as my brother and I have been around will know just how protective she was of us. Some examples;

    – When my first real and serious boyfriend devastated me by ghosting me out of the blue , she sent him a cutting, blunt and … shall we say, threatening text, allowing you all to colour the lines, she told him to do her daughter the respect to let her know what was happening or…. else… Less than three minutes later I had a reply to one of my embarrassingly many texts telling me it was over.

    – After a day of being mercilessly teased at school, I went home and told my Mum. The next day she waited outside of the school like a sniper, only with a cigarette in hand and a narrow-eyed glare that I found incredibly intimidating when I was on the receiving end of it. Once I pointed the offender out, she got out of her car and basically made him feel the same way he had been making me feel for weeks; scared, fearful of my safety … and so forth.

    – Growing up, I spent a lot of time in hospital for various reasons – my Mum was by my side every single day regardless of how much she didn’t want to be there, regardless of how anxious it made her and regardless of how boring it was. I never once woke up without her by my side. She made me laugh when needles were coming at me, she told me to picture my grandmother doing karate when I was crying about being stuck with an IV… in every avenue of my health, my Mum was always there telling me that everything was okay, even when we weren’t sure that it was going to be.

    – When Mum was re-diagnosed with cancer early last March, we weren’t expecting the prognosis to be quite as bad as it was. I went with her to hold her hand, to hopefully protect her the way that she had been protecting me health wise. When we were delivered the news that there were legions in her lungs, without warning, I broke down and melted down so hard and so fast that all I can remember is my mum hugging me and telling me that it was okay as the doctor called for some help. Because even though she had been delivered some crippling, devastating and out-of-the-blue news, she still wanted to protect me.

    mum

    – “Its allright, Jessie,” I can still hear her saying it. Its what she said whenever I’d start melting down about the cancer – way to make it all about myself, right?

    In 2009, Michael Jackson announced a bunch of concerts in London… I went to bed hearing the news, hatching my plans… my Mum woke up reading the news knowing I was hatching my plans. As I walked down the hallway to greet her in the morning, she glanced at me – we both exchanged awkward glances; I began to smirk and finally she said, “Jessie, don’t even think about it…”

    I went to London after Mum and I discussed how I would/could do it, I’d easily justified it to her, fully knowing no other parent would ever support their child going to a concert in England… I went even after Michael Jackson had died, for which I had been devastated – sharing just how much so with really no one except my Mum. I didn’t need to tell her though; she emailed me every day with her supportive words; she comforted me even when I felt okay… I think because it was something that we shared in common so we both felt the loss;

    Our drives to Sydney to see family were often spent playing the entire Michael Jackson catalogue; we used to sing loudly together, poke fun when the other stuffed up the lyrics, or pause the music to discuss which version of him we preferred – we made up really stupid interpretive dancing which to the music which were really all had-to-be-there type moments of memories that I will treasure forever.

    I don’t want to miss out on talking about how talented my Mum was. She was an artist. Not like some flimsy fiftys-something woman who’s children have flown the nest and has taken up a pottery class and thinks she’s quite good. No, my Mum is a creative genius. She is good at just about any art medium. I know that she’s good at every art medium because she was also fickle with her art interests. She could paint, she could sew, she could knit, she could build, she could sculpt. once I saw her bravely saw apart an incredibly expensive cupboard/wardrobe. Me on the other hand? Creative genius, not so much.

    Mum didn’t do things by halves. When my brother and I were kids, Mum used to make dolls and country craft things which unfortunately included evil clowns and would sell them and do craft parties. One day, all of a sudden, she got bored and took up ceremics. She went to some classes, mastered it, came home, bought a kiln and set up shop in the garage. She did that for a few years, learning to paint with oils, chalks and make lots of cool pieces for the house – then, woke up one morning in the way that Mum could and thought, eh, I’m bored of that.

    She took up folk art. It was only in the last 5 years that Mum sold the hundreds of magazines and folk art books and an impressive collection of paint brushes that I was never allowed to touch for my own flimsy art pieces.

    And then when I took up jewellery making, she jumped on that band wagon with me. I took up crocheting at some stage and was actually able to teach her how to do something—it was a proud day, but the problem was, once Mum started, she didn’t stop until she was bored. Over the past 10 or so years, I’ve seen the kitchen at her and Shane’s place change from a country cottage theme, to a saturation of the colour red, to a vintage coca cola theme, old tin signs everywhere – truck stop style theme – she became bored of all of these things and just recently she had become obsessed with owls. The last thing I bought my Mum was an owl toy that she sat in the chair marvelling over. At her 60th birthday this year, her friend, Sandra bought her an owl necklace and every time it was removed over this past month she kept asking for it back, even right up until her last days…

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    What I want people to know most about Mum was how good of a friend she was. To me. A lot of people only get to know their parents as Mum or Dad, but the best part of my relationship blossomed with my mum in my early 20s when she allowed me to get to know her as a person not as simply, my Mum.

    A lot of people make the throwaway statement that their Mum is their best friend – but for me its not lip service, my Mum was actually my very best friend. She knew more about me and how to read me better than anyone in my life. She knew what things I struggled with and sometimes I didn’t need to tell her how hard something was, she simply sensed it or could tell by looking at me. If she couldn’t understand my actions, she never made me feel bad or told me that I was wrong, she would hear me out and at least try.

    A lot of people water down their personalities to seem more palatable to their parents, they hide a lot, they tell them only the good parts so as not to worry or upset them, but not me – my Mum is one of the only people who received the unfiltered version of myself that I could freely and comfortably be without any fear of rejection, hassle or self consciousness.

    Actually, if anything, it sometimes became a joke of just how honest I could be with her that I would try to shock her – sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t – sometimes she’d shock me right back…

    She was the best friend that anyone could have – she was always honest, would never let me leave the house without rethinking my eyebrows, my outfit, unless I wanted to look like I lived in Mt Druitt… she was my best shopping critic, the only person that I ever took shopping because she wouldn’t lie to me to save my feelings. In fact, I made my eyebrows and my dark roots a matter of urgency to fix before today, because my Mum would zone in on those things and remind me gently that they needed to be done.

    “Ooohhh those roots need doing! Looks terrible.”
    “So…. You gonna get that eyebrow looked at, or what?”

    Last year my brother took my Mum to Europe to Italy and Croatia… leading right up til around two weeks before she left, Mum was sick as a dog from all the chemotherapy and doubted whether or not she would be able to go and actually enjoy herself.

    I was glad that she did go, and as if she hadn’t had chemo in awhile, she enjoyed that trip more than anything in the world. I still have the texts that she and I sent from over there saved on my phone that I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of. And for my brother, this is probably going to be one of his fondest times spent with her – during that trip chemo had destroyed Mums tastebuds so she was hard to please in terms of food, but when she did find something, it was all I heard about. She complained about the walking, but did it anyway – she took about a zillion photos and absolutely treasured the time she spent with her son and daughter-in-law. When she got back, every conversation for about a month began with, “Well when I was in Europe with your brother…”

    This whole cancer thing has been the most harrowing journey that I’ve ever been on. A friend referred to it as living inside a fishbowl—that’s exactly how its felt on some days.

    Mums original diagnosis was serious, but I didn’t honestly think that we would arrive here at the end of it – I don’t like to hear people telling us that her battle was lost to cancer, because it wasn’t. Her battle should not be diminished because she fought against this beast long and hard and with good humour, faith and determination for much longer than a lot of people are able to given the prognosis. At no stage did cancer beat her ability to laugh, smile, throw a smarty-pants statement at someone, usually her husband or I.

    Cancer did not beat her ability to make outrageous food demands, or tell me that I my eyebrows needed doing or that my roots looked terrible.

    Cancer may have wore her down and made her weak and frail and destroyed her tastebuds, stole her hair – which as it turns out – she didn’t care much about and given her a shorter span on life, but it didn’t take away the love that she had for her children, her husband, her family, her animal babies or her friends, but she did not lose her battle.

    No one ever really can say they beat cancer and this was a discussion Mum and I had multiple times. When someone has been given the all clear, they have not beaten it, because its not a battle or a fight, it’s a disease that unfortunately puts a full stop on another person’s life.

    “I hate it when people say they’ve beaten cancer, or cancer beat someone,” I told Mum one day after we went for lunch when she got back from Europe.
    “Me too,” she said, “you don’t beat cancer til you die of something else – like, maybe a heart attack.”

    We both laughed, but how accurate.

    People kept praising our strength and bravery in dealing with this and while that’s a nice thing to say, I want to say that none of us have been particularly strong – but rather, just dealing with it. Giving up was never really an option, but it didn’t mean there weren’t times that we didn’t fall apart or go slightly insane trying to process this journey.

    There were times my Mum cried in grief and weariness and felt like running away from it all. I can only speak for myself, but I am sure both her husband and my brother has felt like its too much to handle as well. There have been times where I’ve made my boyfriend’s life difficult because I haven’t known how to properly process my grief. It’s not really about being strong or being brave, but its about knowing that there is absolutely no other alternative…

    In my Mums life I never saw another single person or thing intimidate her; save for cancer… Maybe that’s not true, maybe she was intimidated by a lot of things, but she never once let it show, and to me that’s as good as.

    My loss is great; the hole in my heart will never be repaired, with the loss of my Mum was a piece of my heart; my best friend, my supporter, my champion – and I’m not quite sure how to go about recovering from this, or if I ever will – my Mum did everything for me – and people often told me that I had to grow up sometime, but maybe that’s because they never really experienced having a relationship with their mother quite like mine. I didn’t need to grow up, I could and can do all those things myself, but she was happy to help or advise or come along to see the Dr with me and relay the important information so as to save me the panic of having to remember things on my own.

    I was blessed to have the special, unique relationship that I had with my Mum for the short 33 years that I had her. I’m proud of her determination over the course of her diagnosis, I am proud that no doubt she continued on as long as she did for the sake of Shane and my brother and I… but I am glad that she is resting, that she is no longer in pain.

    Cancer may have taken her but cancer never beat her.

    My Mum is my best of joy and while my heart feels like it is in a thousand pieces and might never recover, I can be comforted knowing that I came in to the world loved by her and she was able to leave the world knowing that she was loved by us. Unconditionally, wholly and completely.
    With my Mum’s DNA woven in to every fibre of me, I was gifted with many of her best parts replicating themselves within me.
    My Mum was one of a kind and will now be the diamond in my sky.

    Retail Counter Bitches, Calm Down!

    I am going on a mini holiday next week that to be honest, I am very ready for.

    We are going to Queensland to catch some sun and some water and probably to drown our sorrows and no doubt give myself the world’s worst bladder infection that I’ll be crying about for weeks to come – but the state of my bladder is another story for another day.

    hate shopping. I am in that phase where my clothes are a tiny bit too tight and nothing feels like it looks good on me. Ordinarily, I’m not overly self-conscious, but I am about to turn 33 in less than a week’s time and I am starting to feel a bit … yech.

    I think it’s important for me to establish a few things;

    retailI do not look my age. Not to be confused with I don’t think I look my age. I don’t. I am around 4’8ft tall. I act young and I look young as evidenced by every second customer who seems shocked when I tell them that I’m well introduced to my thirties.

    I may be short, but I am a curvy little somethin’ somethin’. Even when I was at my thinnest, I had wide hips, a bubble butt and boobs. And to be honest, I don’t detest those things.

    In saying all of that, finding clothes at the moment feels incredibly difficult and every shopping endeavour turns in to a saga where I feel ugly, huge and overweight. I am only a size 14 in the leg/butt area which to my understanding is a u.s size 12. I also have a small waist which makes getting paints, shorts or skirts a little annoying (a lot annoying).

    I am not fat nor am I unfit for my health situation – I work out with a trainer almost every single week and then a couple times a week on my own accord. I squat like f… I have worked hard to turn my ass flab in to a well-toned, well-rounded behind that would make Kim K’s fake arse look ridiculous. I’m pretty proud of it, tbh.

    However, I don’t have that A-type body. I’m not between the age of 16-21. I am not tall, lean or so fresh-faced with the aroma of fruit-scented lipgloss following me around that for some odd reason store-clerks seem to gravitate toward.

    Today I was looking for some skirts, shorts or some cute t-shirts/tops to take away with me that would last me all summer. I also wanted to head to the MAC store so I could buy some lipstick, primer and perhaps a couple of other things. For this reason, I went completely bare-faced without make up so that the store-clerk wouldn’t have to clean make up off my face to try something for me.

    I know, I know — what was I thinking? For your reference, this is who I am — curves and all:

    retail

     

    This is my trying on a pencil skirt which somehow ended up looking like a pair of tights but anyway, that’s another story.

    I make my first stop at the MAC store. I won’t name which one it is, because I’m not an asshole like that — but basically looking like the above, I walked right up to the counter and requested the primer that I needed. (Bare Canvas, Mac Paint). Without a word, the girl, staring through me with her blank expression walked over to the drawer, pulled the stock out and went to head over to the counter to ring it up.

    She then thought to ask (and last thought), “Is there anything else?”

    “Yes please, I am just wanting to look at some matte lipsticks.” she walks me over to the lipstick counter and asked me what colour. I offer that I have a large collection of heaps of different shades of red. Like red red. She starts pulling out random browns and nudes — I was a bit confused, so I took them commented that they were nice but I was looking for a red. She shows me one, super red. I say that I like it, I decide to take it.

    A young girl less than half my age walks up to the counter and I almost got left on my own without my items being rung up so that she could run and test make up on her. I asked her more questions like, how long does the lipstick last? I have been used to very good, long lasting lipstick. The whole time this girl stared over me like she was better than me, like she couldn’t believe she had to be subjected to such dumb questions.

    “Depends on the person who’s wearing it….”

    I almost rolled my eyes. Like, settle down, you’re working in retail for probably less than $20 per hour, you touch people’s disgusting faces all day long and probably, going by your need to only stretch yourself to teenagers, don’t sell much product. You hardly have the right to make me feel like I’m a nothing girl.

    And actually? The lasting of a lipstick doesn’t depend on the person who’s wearing it. It depends on quality and how often someone smacks their lips, touch or lick their lips.

    I wanted to try liquid eyeline, I wanted to buy a new blending brush. I wanted to try a new pigment — but given her urgency to ring me up and move me along, I left feeling both transparent and awful about myself.

    My next stop was a store called Cotton On — I am not going to lie, the clothes here aren’t incredible quality. They are made specifically for skinny girls but I am able to buy some tank tops and stuff — their jeans go up to a size 14 and no larger which is laughable considering their idea of a size 14 is probably more of a 12. I have a big butt and wide hips, those jeans can barely make it past my friggin’ knees — so I should have known I was setting myself up.

    I am not kidding, I roamed that store for a better half of 45 minutes. I tried on more than 15 things. I tried to persevere because usually if I don’t fit the first two things, I have a tantrum, a cry about my stupid body and promptly leave in a bad mood. While I roamed that store, I watched dozens of young girls get asked if assistance was needed in the change rooms, even looking for clothes on the racks … not a single time did anyone ask me if I needed assistance, even when I struggled to carry all the clothes back to the racks (um, I’m doing your job for you, you could at least help).

    I found four things out of about 15 which I guess counts as a win, but not before I started to feel a lot of self loathe.

    (This is why I spend money on make up and less on clothes, at least I can make my face better…..).

    Finally after paying the vapid staff member who spoke only to tell me the price, I left for the surf store.

    Ahhh hallelujah. A store clerk that wasn’t a total twerp.

    She came up to me as I entered; can she help? I was honest. “I have tried on about 52 things next door, I was given pretty shitty service at MAC, my self-esteem is a bit on the low side right now, I am just looking for some stuff I can take on a break that I could also wear through summer; some skirts, dresses — shorts as long as they don’t make me resemble a Russian weight lifter…..”

    She was the best. She started pulling things from racks, took me to the change room, was incredibly nice about it if it didn’t fit or didn’t look good — eventually I spent almost $200…

    And that’s the fucking difference in customer service. Honestly, I wanted to go home to bed and cry after my experience at Cotton On. I felt deflated and disgusting and then the sweetness and helpfulness of one person who recognised that I was pretty close to feeling like tears went out of her way, probably beyond the means of her job title to throw clothes at me and humour me each time I turned them down.

    As a result of her service, I spent a fair bit of money that I wouldn’t normally spend on clothes.

    Because she didn’t look through me, she didn’t write me off as someone who had couldn’t afford clothes (seriously, do I look like a hobo? Don’t answer that…).

    My friend who is in her 40s and I often have this conversation — why store clerks continually look through older people especially in the cosmetics industry. Doesn’t it make more sense that we are the ones who actually have the will and the finances to spend big? Doesn’t it make better sense that someone my age has the actual need for make up rather than a 15 yr old who wants to wear foundation 3 shades too dark for her skin and trowel on layers upon layers of cheap Priceline make up? Sorry, but most MAC Cosmetics in Australia is not cheap. It’s on the price-y side and a teenager would have to save their pocket money for a few weeks to buy one or two things…. Maybe have a better idea of who can reasonably spend more money.

    I will probably avoid MAC Cosmetics counters and stores in the future and instead, will just buy it online — that way I can get my products without feeling awful about myself in the meantime.

    But like, get off your high horse, you work in retail – if you don’t want to deliver good customer service, don’t be there. Don’t make someone else feel bad just because you are on your feet all day long with your face caked looking like a snap chat filter because its a requisite of your job. You don’t know what someone else is going through in their daily life, you don’t know what words or what actions are going to send them away feeling like a piece of shit.

    Just calm down, you may have made me feel shit today, but you are not better than me for any of those reasons.

    Anyone would think this is how I turned up today.

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    Thanks to the lovely lady in Ozmosis for making me feel better.

    Under Rose Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall

    Under Rose-Tainted SkiesUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Under Rose Tainted Skies is a unfiltered look at a life consumed by the rigours of mental health issues.

    Norah has OCD and agoraphobia. This book chronicles her daily struggles and turmoils of dealing with invisible medical issues.

    This book resonated with me for two main reasons:

    This is not an overly-dramatic, tragedy-on-top-of-tragedy style novel.

    Mental health issues aren’t always caused by a specific trauma or event that you can connect right back to the first time you encounter anxiety (not saying it doesn’t, but its not even nearly always the case). I hate to read books where 62 thousand awful things have happened to the main character that has led them to the point where they’re dealing with issues only when the author can be bothered delving in to them.

    In Under Rose Tainted Skies, Norah’s initial mental health issues were not brought on by some kind of tragedy. Even during the small positive moments that run through her subconscious, she is ruled by her illnesses. They never fleet far from the story and are written so acutely and finely that I found myself crying within the first few pages. I have never read myself so accurately before.

    “I stand at the top of the stairs, close my eyes and try to make my mind go blank.

    Don’t go back. Don’t go back. You don’t need to go back.”

    and then,

    I march back to my room, push the book in to its rightful position and then hate myself.”

    I have written, in great detail, what my brain goes through on a very, very tough day — but maybe the passage written above is probably jus the tl;dr version.

    It is very hard to find some kind of ‘entertainment’ medium that I find relatable to what I’m going through so when I come across it, I take hold and clutch it close to my chest and treasure it. Maybe it’s the whole misery-loves-company thing or maybe its the relief of finally being understood — either way, Under Rose Tainted Skies hits that chord with perfect precision. Louise Gornall is genius.

    And, I’m not talking like, one of those flimsy Apple Fake Geniuses either…

    the other main reason I loved Under Rose Tainted Skies so much;

    Norah, the character of this book is not saved by a boy/man. 

    I read one book about agoraphobia and anxiety recently (I won’t mention titles, you can read it and work it out if you like) and I wrote what I felt like, was a very kind review when I actually wanted to convey sheer irritation.

    Boys cannot solve our fucking world of mental health illness. If anything, they generally bumble for the right thing to say and end up making it worse – much less, teenage boys. In the other book I read a boy came along and pretty much resolved the main character’s entire worldly issues including the deeper issue (the mother) as a subplot.

    rose

    The boy that comes in to Norah’s life doesn’t serve as her saviour. He serves as her friend; someone to speak to, someone to inspire her to take very tiny baby steps toward recovery. Luke is awkward, Luke says a couple of stupid things and he even does a couple of stupid things — but at least it’s realistic and Norah doesn’t suddenly seem to shed her OCD or agoraphobia the second she sets her sights on him.

    Even touching hands with Luke for the first time proves to be traumatic and true to someone who suffers all of the issues that encumber Norah.

    Impressively, Luke isn’t a means to an end of Norah’s mental health issues, he is helpful in terms of showing her that she is still worthy of being loved and proves to her that not everybody is going to label her or judge her for what she is going through.

    I think what I loved the best about this story is that perhaps recovery is possible for some; but usually not for everyone and this story holds true to that. Norah does not magically get better. There is no skipping to the future to see her running outdoors with Luke to fly a kite or some shit, but the reader is left with a tiny grain of hope that the main character is taking all the positive steps forward to get along with life and cope with her illnesses the very best that she can.

    This is what we all hope to be able to do when we feel debilitated by our very, very bad days — to just be able to cope.

    Under Rose Tainted Skies is going to get a five out of five for me. Louise Gornall is my new hero.

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