LOCK IT IN… About that time I auditioned for Millionaire Hot Seat

I’m going to be a contestant on Millionaire Hot Seat tomorrow. This is how is happened.

When you’re in a funk, feeling down, depressed or otherwise just stuck in a state of complete and utter inertia I’ve been told that the best thing to do is…anything. Just do anything. One thing. Step outside. Write a letter. Walk to the shops and back. Open a bottle of red wine (der… as if anyone needs reminding to do that when you’re feeling blue!). Or, you can do what I did and audition to go on a national television show. Because when you’ve been in hiding for months why wouldn’t you want to re-enter the world for a close-up in front of a live studio audience? Continue reading

An Ode to the Storytellers

In my last post I told you how I’ve been a bit down these past few months and how one of the things I’d been doing was engaging in media about people with lives less fortunate. This tactic was to help me see how truly fortunate my life is, surrounded by good people (and beautiful readers who never left me, even when I broke up with them for 5 months!).

This is one of the stories that I invested a lot of time and emotion into in February, in reasons that I explain. At the time I wrote all of this on my Simply Kim Facebook page because I just wanted to say something, anything, about how it made me feel.

Since I wrote this I’ve been spending more and more time listening to stories in a similar vein, so I’ve decided to post a version of it here on my blog too… because who knows when the curtain will fall on Zuckerberg’s empire!


On the first Friday in February I was glued to the silent live media feed of a police operation in Adelaide digging what many fully expect to be the gravesite of the Beaumont children. Missing since 1966.

This wasn’t the first time that an excavation had happened in the search for the children (it’s not even the first time they’d dug on that site). This wasn’t the first time that the media reported on evidence presented to police before anything had been proven. But it is the first time I was so emotionally invested in such a macabre scene. And it’s probably the first time that I reflected on just how important investigative journalism and writers of non-fiction are in keeping history alive.

I grew up in Adelaide under the shadow of a serial killer. It’s well documented that South Australia has had an extraordinary amount of predatory crimes and unsolved disappearances. You don’t have to Google too deep to uncover a plethora of crimes and criminals that invaded the landscape of my youth. But in my mind this “serial killer” is a single entity that personifies evil. It is the quintessential bogeyman; the thief of carefree childhoods and creator of horror. Now as a 45-year-old mother I am closer to the feeling of personal risk and perversity than I ever was. Of course living a life in fear is no way to live and I have no real reason to live that way, so I don’t. But I am cautious.

True crime is an engaging and emotive subject. I’m not immune to the lure of a good documentary, book or podcast that goes deep into the murky waters of unsolved crimes or lives lived in the underbelly of our world. Lives that are so very different to the ones most of us lead. We get pulled into the dark crevices and became armchair detectives trying to unravel the clues as we attempt to apply reason when there is none to be found. We link evidence presented to us through the filter of the storyteller.

The thing about case of the Beaumont children is that all of the stories have been told. All of the suspects named. All of the theories published. All of the heartbreak felt. It’s been 52 years with no resolution.

As each year fades into the next and another decade clocks over the case continues to exist on the pages of the storytellers. The writer, the journalist or the retired detective; all of whom have theories and follow the leads about chapters in this case. It’s these storytellers that have brought to bear this latest and hopefully final chapter in the case. By keeping this story in the mainstream news people that may never have realised that they held a missing piece to a puzzle are alerted and then, decades later, come forward to reveal their own stories. Piece by piece these details complete chapters until there is enough data and enough evidence to have the law invest time and resources to follow the correct channels to find closure.

Someone always knows something and it’s the storytellers that keep a case like this alive. (The CBC Podcast, Someone Knows Something is an excellent example of not only engaging storytelling but how documentarians and journalists can help to break cold cases).

In a case as perplexing and sad as the Beaumont children with the myriad of potential outcomes and theories I, for what it’s worth, believe the answer will be the most simple. The children weren’t taken very far. They were held for a short time. Killed and disposed of quickly. If they were alive for any length of time evidence would have built far more quickly than it has. There is neither rhyme nor reason as to how the perpetrator made his decisions on that day. He was a broken and perverse man who hid in plain sight while living out his own sick world in the sanctity of his home, which is where he felt safe to take the children. (I have formed this view having read the well-researched and respectfully reported findings of the true-crime authors Alan Whiticker and Stuart Mullins. There’s a fascinating thread on this Great Aussie Reads blog post, if you’re inclined).

Within a few hours of the latest ‘dig’ we knew that alas it had the exact same outcome as every other. It turned up nothing, except a reinvigoration of the story for anyone who cared to watch and listen. And this is OK with me. Anything to help the family and those who are closest to the case find closure is worthwhile in my opinion. If this were my story I would not sleep for the all the talking and telling I would do.

So for cases like this one from the shadows of my childhood and the countless others that get turned into books, podcasts and social media campaigns, the final chapters seem to lie with the continued interest and commitment from the storytellers among us. To them I say; Go forth. Continue to dig. And bring us that final chapter.

Hello? Is anyone still there?

Yes it’s been a while. I don’t blame you if you’re not there. Or you hang up on me before reading anymore. That’s cool. This blog has been on radio silence for a few months. And while I’d love to say it’s because I’ve been on some exotic holiday learning to eat, love and pray I’m afraid the truth is I’ve just been very busy.

Very busy gasping for breath.
Very busy doing nothing.
Very busy looking for the turn off from Struggle Street.

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. It’s not that I haven’t been an avid observer of the world through my window, at my local Coles or in the playground of my child’s new Kindy. And it’s not that I haven’t been out and about in my world. I’ve been there. I’ve been social (media that is, not parties or dinners or anything that requires a modicum of effort).

I just haven’t wanted to communicate all that much. Which is a bit of an issue when you’ve started an on online community slash business slash writing blog thingie and then just…can’t.

So I was a bit fucked really.

Around December last year (yes, all those red wines ago) I tripped over myself and lost my way. I suddenly had no freakin’ clue which way to step and as a result got stuck in a state of complete and utter inertia. For me that state is generally found on my bathroom floor. A place I have sunk to more than once over these past few months.

Why? Because it’s quiet. The door has a lock on it. The cool tiles…oh, you want to know what made me sink? Sure, sorry. Silly me. Of course every mother knows the sanctuary that is the locked bathroom!

My latest fall from sanity was caused by a combination of things. None of which were significant on their own but when stacked up one after the other combined to create the perfect storm of depression and guilt and anxiety and a complete cluster fuck of a somewhat mid-life crisis. I’m 45. Surely that qualifies as a mid-life crisis?

I was stagnant and without ambition. A pretty hard combo to fight your way out of. And I’m not there yet. But I am back at my keyboard. Which is a good start (I hope you’ll agree).

I am a highly functioning depressive. Isn’t that a great label? Feel free to steal it or use it to inspire your own life. I’m very good at carrying on with life and social media posts with nary a sign that the wheels have fallen off. Let’s be frank, many mothers have made an art out of just getting shit done when they’d rather be somewhere else. Little people won’t feed themselves and that bloody iPad always needs to be recharged!

During the last few months I’ve become hyper-sensitive to all the food, fitness and fabulous bullshit that’s in the media. I know. I know. Long time readers will recognise the irony in that statement. This blog was built on my special take on food and fitness. I think my focus on that industry (“wellness” – fucking air quotes intentional) was really the beginning of my latest downfall. I was so sick of seeing one transformation post after another. One new recipe after another that was designed to make me feel happy about the food I was eating. It started having an impact on how I viewed my world so I stopped viewing my world that way. I stopped engaging with that line of conversation on social media and I re-wired my social feeds.

I started to spend time listening to, and watching, media about lives less fortunate. Because, in my misery, I needed to remind myself that I live a very fortunate life. Not a Kardashian-raking-in-the-millions fortunate life just a life that means I probably won’t ever live on the streets (*touches wood*).

IMAGE CREDIT: PADHIA https://www.instagram.com/unfukyourself/ x

A friend of mine often says, “When you don’t know what to do just do anything”. So, in an effort to ensure that my life doesn’t take to the streets I did do something. Earlier this year I auditioned for a game show where I’m bound to win a million dollars. Because why wouldn’t you go on national television when you’ve been in hiding for months?

No matter how many stumbles I take or silly efforts I make to pick myself up the fact remains that I am surrounded by excellent people. I am indeed, very fortunate. But no amount of home truths or caring friends can convince me to get up off my bathroom floor until I’m good and ready.

You’ve just got to wait for that shit to pass…and for the right audition.

Boobs

There’s a scene in an early season of Mad Men that shows the beautifully bosomed Joan P. Harris nee Holloway (played by the gorgeous Christina Hendricks) rubbing her shoulder under her bra strap at the end of a long day – presumably to illustrate the strain and weight of the day. The reality is the biggest weight she’s carried that day is her ample bosom. And those thin elastic straps have been cutting into her shoulder for hours.

It’s a reality I am all too familiar with.

There’s not a big-boobed woman who doesn’t relish the thought of removing the restraints when in the privacy of her home (when wandering around looking like a tribal woman doesn’t impact ones social standing). While support is desperately needed it’s bloody hard to find one that doesn’t make you feel like you’re trussed up like a Christmas turkey for the day.

My bras are the bane of my clothing experience. I am constantly searching for the ‘perfect fit’, the soft and simple, unpadded and comfortable bra. I’m a fuss free type of gal – I have no need of lace and appliqué and animal print (!). I’m a lover of Bonds. Alas my love is unrequited, as they don’t like big bosoms!

I also don’t see myself as an overly big woman. At a healthy weight I’m a generous size 14, which makes me think about women who are larger than me. There’s a whole army of us reaching to unbuckle and unload at the earliest opportunity!

I lost count of the number of underwear stores I’ve walked into and straight out again for lack of options. In my search for practical, comfortable, soft and well-fitting feeding bras the sexy marketing that has accompanied many of them has put me off. When did ‘sexy’ and ‘breast-feeding’ become a thing?

But these challenges that I had with my boobs before I had a baby were nothing compared to the weight I would bear while trying to keep that child alive at my breast!. Aside from the whole raising-a-child-and-not-breaking-it thing, I’d have to say my biggest concern day-to-day is keeping physically comfortable while, just like Baby in Dirty Dancing, I carry a watermelon or two strapped to my chest.

Hot Milk. “Supporting Breast Feeding women. Everywhere.” Including, it would seem, in my best evening attire, wearing diamonds, while I buy orange juice. Yes, that’s just the look I cultivate when grocery shopping.

Did you know there is a whole maternity bra range called Hot Milk? I kid you not. I mean I’m sure their bras are lovely and all but, who the fuck thinks of these names and marketing strategies? Truly bizarre. I’m sorry but I didn’t feel sexy, hot or even remotely amorous when it came to feeding my baby. (If you did…I’d love to hear about it, honestly…fire away in the comments)

A friend and fellow big-bosom buddy put me onto an underwear consultant. She raved about their ‘miracle bra’. Because researching and trying on bras is my favourite past time* I decided to give it a go. Sure enough she fitted me, and my breast-feeding boobs, comfortably into her largest size. Her. Largest. Size. What? Like I said, I’m not the biggest girl I know, so even though I was accommodated I couldn’t help but think of my bigger sisters.

So if a smart bra manufacturer would like to contact me about getting an edge in the untapped no fuss, big bra market feel free to hook a sister up! We’ll make a motza!

And then there’s using my boobs for the purpose for which they were intended.

A dear, tiny-chested friend of mine who was physically unable to breastfeed her babies (who are now perfectly healthy young humans, I hasten to add) commented during my pregnancy that I’d have no such dilemmas. I was clearly built to have a tiny creature suckle at my breast.

Yes, well, let me paint a picture for anyone that may believe that one plus one equals boobs café.

It was day three of my hospital stay after giving birth that both baby and I cracked up. Together. At the same time. One of the 423 helpful midwives had a firm grip on my baby’s head which, at that stage was no bigger than an orange, and was firmly pushing it towards my watermelon. Much like a scene from a science fiction movie where a mammoth asteroid hurtles at an alarming pace towards the tiny speck called Earth, destroying all in its path.

Imagine the horror that poor three-day-old human must have felt.

“Come on love, latch, there’s a good girl,” says Helpful Midwife to my baby.
“They have a natural inclination for the breast, don’t worry, she’ll get it,” says Helpful Midwife to me.

This routine carried on for a good 30 minutes, mostly because the Helpful Midwife had more patience than me or my baby, who responded quite simply with “Whhhaaaaaaa” complete with real tears on her tiny perfect face. Translation: “Back the fuck up, I’m scared!”

I was having none of it. And given my lack of sleep and general exhausted state, told the Helpful Midwife rather pointedly. She backed away slowly and my baby and I consoled ourselves. We muddled on for the rest of our stay, which included me having to sign a form requesting formula which basically devolved the hospital of any responsibility of the potential heinous effects that formula was surely to cause my newborn. Seriously! Could they make formula out to be any more evil do you think? Do not get me started.

…dining at Boobs Cafe

So it turned out my first-born wasn’t so enamoured with her watermelon-sized café. In fact she continued to get frequently upset at the counter until we both figured out that she’s perfectly content to take her coffee order lying down.

Yes. Both of us. Lying down.
On a bed. To feed.
Every. Single. Time.

A tad limiting for any trips outside of the home (bedding department of Myer not withstanding).

I found myself watching other mothers feed their babies at their average sized bosoms and smiled wistfully thinking how lovely it must be to be able to feed your baby peacefully, anywhere, anytime, sitting, standing, walking, knocking back vodka shots. Instead, when I’m wasn’t lying down feeding (and trying not to nap, which is 100% impossible when you’ve had next to no sleep), I was pumping feeds so we could at least get out of the house together.

Now I’m sure that I simply hit on the unfortunate combo of large boobs and a very (very) particular baby. And before the chorus of helpful advice starts, let me assure you, we tried it all from nipple shields and lactation consultants (three) to pillows, no pillows, football hold, sitting straight, rocking, dark rooms, noisy rooms, TV, no TV, the occasional vodka shot etc.

My baby (who is now 4) and I managed to muddle through and both became reasonably settled into our feeding set up and in the end I honestly felt blessed that I could choose to breast feed my baby at all. Even if our shopping trips were limited to the bedding department of Myer.

*it’s not.

SUPPORT UPLIFT BRAS

If, like me, you have amassed an extraordinary amount of over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders and they are now just taking up space in your drawer then please consider this wonderfully awesome cause.

For women in disadvantaged communities a bra is often unobtainable or unaffordable. Uplift Bras collects new and second hand bras and sends them wherever they have requests.

Give your unloved bras to some sisters who will truly appreciate them.