TMI Tuesday – The First Time

Photo by Jackie Hope on Unsplash

1. First app you check in the morning?

One that is showing notifications. Usually messenger or something like that. I have a couple of friends who I usually text good morning to every day. We don’t have a protracted conversation but that regular contact is the stuff a friendship of ten years is built on.
2. First kiss location?

I think it was in the middle of a dance floor at a high school dance. I went to boarding school. We didn’t get out much.
3. First major purchase over $1000?

Probably my first car. It was a blue Nissan Pulsar Q and looked like this.


At the time I didn’t really think about it but it was almost new. I drove it until #1 Son was a toddler and I was pregnant with The Unicorn. At that point we conceded that I needed a bigger car!
4. First song choice in karaoke song book?

NONE! I really don’t like karaoke and avoid it whenever I can.
5. First internet screen name?

Back in the day I used the moniker ‘Babeslady” I upgraded pretty quickly to Gemma when I moved from Literotica to my own blog.
6. First break up reason?

I honestly can’t remember. Probably because I had met another boy I was more interested in!
7. First concert and how old were you?

I was about 18 and some friends and I went to see Midnight Oil at the Brisbane Entertainment centre. I still love their music!

8. First crush?

I was never really one for celebrities. During my high school days I had a major crush on a boy in my grade. He was nothing really special and I never acted on it. My friends thought it was hilarious. I don’t think I ever even really spoke to him much.

Bonus: What was the title of your very first blog post?

Ranting into the void. I considered including a link but honestly. When I read what I wrote I feel like I was reading something my teenage self said. Cringeworthy!

Freedom is as Freedom Does

I started 2021 with a flu like illness that lasted a couple of days. It may have been Covid. Getting tested and receiving timely results is an issue in Queensland this week. In any case I was fortunate to not be seriously ill. Despite Covid being the most dominant feature of 2022 so far for me, for most of 2021 it was a non-event. 

For me, personally, 2021 was a year of travelling the ocean, and making changes to my employment objectives. From April to September I lived on board a catamaran and travelled from Brisbane to Port Douglas with many stops in between. During that time I saw many places and walked on beaches that most Australians will never see. I did not work, or think about looking for work. Life was simple. Daily chores were minimal and even things like preparing dinner was more basic than regular life. My mind was opened to a completely new way of life and I met a lot of people who made choices and saw life very differently from the majority of the world. 

Freedom is a strange concept. Part of the Human condition is being part of a community. Wether we want to or not all of us are part of some form of group. Being part of these groups, wether they be families, clubs, communities or tribes leaves us with some responsibilities to act in the best interests of the group as a whole. We are not able to do exactly as we please all of the time because some of our choices impact on the lives of others. So it could be argued that to be a responsible member of society we all have obligations and therefore are never truly free. 

But where do these obligations end? How many of the choices we make in our lives are as a result of a feeling of obligation. Or a feeling that it is the expected thing. Many people make financial commitments because of social pressures or expectations of their families. People feel that they are trapped in jobs they don’t like because they have to meet these financial commitments. Once we are caught in this spiral it is easy to feel that freedom is out of reach. 

Making the choice to step away from the spiral is difficult. It requires people to let go of things that we are conditioned to think are important. It requires us to go against the grain. It requires us to be different from most of the people that we know. Towards the end of my journey I was asked to provide a prompt for Wicked Wednesday. In it I asked the question; “What is the real world?” This idea that I was living in an alternate universe is tied to the way I was experiencing freedom. It felt as if I needed to step into an alternative universe to be free. 

Adjusting to the real world took some time. I didn’t have too many problems resulting in the physical aspects of “real life”. I got to work on time and didn’t miss any meetings. Nor did I get caught daydreaming in meetings. What I did find myself wondering was where I was heading with my job. I knew I didn’t want to stop working but where I was working and how I was being directed to do my job wasn’t what I or my students really needed. On a whim I applied for a new job at an alternative type of school. 

In what seemed like the blink of an eye I had a new employer. And so, despite an interruption from Covid 2022 seems like it is a case of out with the old and in with the new. 

TMI Tuesday – Health Wealth and Happiness

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

I have been sick since January 1 so despite having time I have not had the energy. The jury is out on whether or not we have Covid but I am happy that it was a mild experience.

1. Do you feel that happiness is luck or is it a practiced mindset?

Happiness is definitely not the result of luck.

2. If you could transport to the happiest place in the world where would you be?

These images were taken on top of the Sandhills on Moreton Island. I have long recognised it as my happy place. It has been frustrating that weather has conspired to keep me away from there since our return to Brisbane in September. How could I want to be away from here.

3. In 2022, what will you do to improve your health?

Eat more vegetables. Because vegetables are awesome.

4. What is your money psychology?
a. Money worshipper: Those who associate money with security, but in a kind of arbitrary way. The danger is no amount of money is ever enough.

b. Money avoidance: When you tend to think of money as bad, corrupting or just something you do not deserve. This can manifest in many ways, such as, not trying to negotiate a raise at work or avoiding looking at your retirement account.

c. Money vigilance: These people seem really great with their money, but there is a lot of anxiety around actually using it. This type can be great savers but rarely treat themselves.

d. Money status: People with this mind-set see money as a way to feel good about themselves and appear a certain way to others. These folks tend to run up credit card debt, pick up tabs they cannot afford and otherwise mismanage their money — while judging others who do not have the same status symbols.

I am none of those. Mr Jones is very anti debt and consequently we have only ever incurred short term debts to help us buy big ticket investments like houses and property. Whenever there is a debt it is the number one priority to settle it. The other big rule in our house is “never go into debt for something that is not an investment” This includes things most people consider necessary to incur a debt for such as cars, furniture, renovations, vacations. If there isn’t money in the account for the item right then and there then we simply don’t purchase it.

Consequently the rest of our life is about living within our means. We don’t smoke or drink excessively nor do we go out for dinner almost ever. We have stuff. We have a yacht for FS. But the flip side of that is that I can count on one hand the number of times I have been out of the country for a vacation. I can count on the other hand the number of times I have had a vacation that involved staying in a hotel.

So of the choices given I would say that I am vigilant about money but not to the point where it becomes an obsession.

Bonus: Do you have any goals for your blog in 2022?

Honestly. Keep on keeping on. I was happy for the most part with how it progressed in 2021. It has taught me that persistence and consistency is the key to growing this page.

TMI Tuesday blog

Belly Fat

Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

When I open my social media it seems inevitable that I will be faced with an advertisement that is aimed at women of “a certain age” and promises to reduce their belly fat, deal with their bloating or generally be a miracle cure for mysterious weight that won’t move. A quick google and a number of articles that claim to be medically reviewed come up explaining that hormonal changes happening during peri menopause will be connected to a need to review the way you look at weight. 

For me I have been convinced most of my life that I am overweight and that my naturally curvy shape is unattractive (thanks mother!). At the age of six I was teased by my parents for being chubby. And so I have always thought that my belly was unattractive. Even when it wasn’t. Earlier in the year I posted a shot taken for #travellingboob that included my muffin top. I wrote about the way my eye was always drawn to that part of my body and it always made me feel inadequate.

The belly is something that comes and goes a little. But it is always there. Once I had a conversation with Johnny about how women around my age always feel like they are fat. The women he had met felt that way because their husbands had told them they were overweight and used it as their excuse to cheat on and ultimately leave them for a younger, thinner model. I will never forget the passion in his voice when he told me how he felt about it. 

“So what if your tummy is a bit soft? You have carried and birthed children. Your body has done amazing things. What about their husbands? They have a big fat gut because they sit on the couch and drink beer. What is amazing about that?” 

For the record, Mr Jones is not one of those husbands. 

The long and the short of things is that women’s bodies do some pretty incredible stuff. During pregnancy the uterus increases mass by up to ten times it’s regular size. That is the amount of tissue actually increases 1000%! Then, afterwards it goes, mostly, back again. The rest of our abdominal cavity moves and adjusts to accomodate up to 20 extra kilograms of “stuff” before having to find its way back to it’s “normal” position. Our hormones change markedly both in response to our mensural cycle but also in response to pregnancy, breastfeeding and changes in our ovaries. The female body is a temple that creates life. We are the goddesses who should be honoured for that. 

So if you are a mother, or even if you aren’t. Your body is undergoing some major changes. You deserve to give yourself a break. As long as you are focussed on your overall health and putting food into your body that will keep you healthy and happy. It is pointless obsessing about how many calories you are taking in or trying to manage one particular food group. Comparing yourself to other women is a trap we all fall into. It is dangerous and destructive and will only lead to heartache. 

Those articles that tell us we need to change the way we look at weight loss? They are right. We do need to look at the way we look at weight loss. We need to change the way we see our bodies and stop obsessing that we need to look a certain way. Celebrate your body and it’s achievements. Be kind to it and feed it good food that you enjoy. Be kind to yourself. Don’t let others make you feel less than the goddess you are.

The Menopause Diaries

TMI Tuesday – Looking Forward Looking Back

1. My favorite thing about 2021 was.

#travellingboob,#boatlife, #cruisingyacht. That made me sound like such a millennial but honestly the best part of 2021 for me was being on the ocean and wearing as little as possible.

2. What is something that happened to you in 2021 that you never want to forget?

So many moments in the voyage Mr Jones and I shared. I cannot choose just one. Mostly I never want to forget that there are always choices that can be made. We are never “stuck” in a particular situation. Walking the path less travelled is always interesting and more fulfilling.

3. What would you like to do differently next year?

When I returned from my journey I felt very refreshed and I made the commitment to myself to make my 50th year on The Earth “The Year of Being Fabulous”. Of course I am not sure how that is different from what I already do. But a couple of months in I can feel a little slide away from fabulousness. Maintaining my focus and not letting the mundane rule my life would be my ultimate goal.

4. How do you honor the past while staying focused on the future?

Learn from your mistakes. Keep only people in your life who you have a healthy connection with. Don’t let your family rule your life just because they are your family.

5. Next year I am excited to _____ .

Start my new job. It is an adventure into a different way of educating. Right now I am not sure what it is going to look like. At the moment it has the potential to be innovative and exciting. I just hope I am able to be creative enough to make it happen.

Bonus: Do you feel jaded at all?

Right now not so much. Having six months at sea tends to clear the head pretty well. Since being back on the land I have been able to make changes that will help keep my head clear and looking firmly forwards.

Bonus for you guys, some images to help clear your mind and soothe your soul.

TMI Tuesday blog

All I Want for Christmas

How to Celebrate Christmas Like an Australian | YHA Australia

As I was preparing to write this I read through some of my old posts about Christmas. I was interested to read this one and to compare my thoughts about Christmas in 2021 with my thoughts about Christmas in 2022. I was actually really surprised about how different they were. Somewhere, somehow I have had a complete change of thinking. 

For many years I allowed my mother to dictate the location and the way that Christmas would play out. She called the shots by guilting her children into attending a family gathering that most people didn’t really enjoy. Since my children were very small travelling ridiculous distances and spending Christmas sleeping in a strange bed, in a strange house feeling awkward and not at home has been a big part of the landscape. They tolerated it but since leaving school and becoming more adult they have become more vocal about out it. 

My niece and nephews were a little ahead of the field informing their parents that they were not up for travelling anywhere this Christmas and they just wanted to stay home. And so for the first time in a long time we are Christmassing like a lot of people. Visiting for lunch and then leaving to go home to our own house where we will host a small evening meal. For the first time we will see most of both sides of our family on Christmas Day and there will be no sleeping in weird beds or having unwelcome and demanding house guests! 

I am excited! Yes it isn’t what my parents want but honestly they can go jump off a cliff. Last year I posted about them being elderly and isolated and I had a feeling of responsibility to them. Last year I did the journey and survived the three or so days of Christmas Hell. And after Christmas Day there was an altercation with my mother that drove home to me that I had given her far too much power in our relationship. It doesn’t matter that she is older and living in a place where she has limited support from able bodied people and very limited health care. She chose that life. She is an adult and she still has all of her mental capacity. She can make changes if she chooses. Throughout the year I have quietly pointed this out to her. 

From now on Christmas is about me, Mr Jones, #1Son and The Unicorn; along with their partners. Where and how we celebrate Christmas is dictated by their work commitments. In line with most things in our family it is fairly low key. We have a tree in the corner and have been busily making things as gifts for family members. There are not a lot of other decorations around the house but that is OK. There is ham in the fridge and prawns in the freezer. Things that are essential for Christmas in our house. We are all happy.  

I am surprised by the number of parcels under our tree but it is a good thing. I am looking forward to opening them and watching others open theirs. For the first time in a long time I am excited by Christmas. I am hoping that this is a sign of things to come. Low key, relaxed Christmas with people I actually want to see. 

Wicked Wednesday

TMI Tuesday – It’s the Little things

1. Do you have a favorite author? Who?

Not especially. I read a rather eclectic range of books combining both fiction and non-fiction. Stand outs are Terry Pratchett and Anne Rice.

2. Do you make your bed each morning? Why?

No. Because I just don’t. Sometimes I might straighten it but hospital corners and perfectly straight doona seem to be a big waste of time.

3. What is one recipe that gets you through busy, hectic times?

“Egg, cabbage, noodle thing”

Cook a packet of Mi Goreng instant noodles and mix the sauce through.

In a separate pan stir fry a grated carrot and about a cup of finely sliced cabbage.

Add three or four eggs and scramble with the vegetables

Stir through the noodles and serve.

You can add different vegetables and more or fewer eggs. While we were travelling this dish was great when staggering back late after sun downers on the beach

sundowners-on-the-beach-nkwichi-lodge - Africa Geographic

4. For therapeutic venting, who do you call–friend, sibling, parent, significant other?

Most of my therapeutic venting is done with The Unicorn. She sometimes tends to respond to a vent with her own rant which can be annoying but on the whole she gets most of my issues.

5. When did you last de-clutter the camera roll/pics on your smartphone?

While we were travelling I regularly de-cluttered my phone because it filled really quickly. No we are back in the mundane world I only really remove the last selfies that I sent to my lover. Mostly so that I don’t have to worry about some random vanilla accidentally seeing it.

Bonus: What is the subject of your next blog post?

I am intending to write another flash fiction with an extension of the story I published last week for Wicked Wednesday. No spoilers.

TMI Tuesday blog

TMI Tuesday – Fountain of Youth

Photo by Brooklyn Morgan on Unsplash

1. If you found a fountain of youth, would you swim in it?

I believe I have found the fountain of youth. It is called life. Simply by living life fully and joyously you won’t have time to worry about feeling old.

2. Share a quick story about your misspent youth.

I was a very earnest nerdy type who didn’t have a lot of friends. That meant there were not many adventures or tales of misdemeanour. I honestly have more tales to tell of things I probably shouldn’t have done or scandals like fucking everyone at a given party from the time I was about thirty five.

3. Some people say that youth is a state of mind, do you agree?

Given my response to 1. I would totally agree. Working with young people definitely helps me to feel and act like a younger person. Having sex with a younger person is totally recommended to help with keeping you feeling young.

Moments like this one with the Spicy Italian and Mr Jones are definitely things that help me feel invigorated and young.

4. Do you feel that you wasted your youth?

Sometimes I feel I wasted it because I DIDN’T do a lot of things that people do in their youth. Things like travelling, staying out too late and being in bad relationships. Interestingly I do most of those things now that I am older and on the verge of retirement. In some ways I think it is better. I have the money to pay for decent drinks and travel more comfortably. I have the sense of what is dangerous to keep me out of serious harm.

I firmly believe that nothing in life is a mistake as long as you learn from the experience and don’t make the same mistake too many times.

5. Are you anxious about death?

The Second Mate told me once that he had a premonition once that he would die when he is 60 years old. He is so certain of that prediction that he has lived his life and taken risks accordingly, feeling safe in the understanding that he has a set number of years left in his life.

While I don’t have a specific “knowledge” of when I will die I am not overly concerned about death. There are things in this life that we can control, things like what we eat for breakfast and who we have relationships with. But there are many things we worry about but cannot control. Things like death and how other people are going to act. Spending the emotional energy worrying about death is a waste. It stops you from living.

Bonus:  When do you dislike too much chatter?

Chatter is definitely something I don’t like much. I have a small amount of industrial deafness so background noise like chatter makes it difficult for me to determine specific conversations.

Me and My Pole

I had my first pole dance lesson in 2009. It was on the balcony of an inner city apartment of a woman who went on to open one of the first studios dedicated to this sport in Brisbane. At that time the industry was in it’s infancy and this particular studio was very closely linked to the stripper industry. Many of the instructors worked in nearby strip clubs and the studio frequently did promos in these clubs. 

Almost twelve years later I am still on a pole. In all honesty I should be an instructor myself. I should really be amazing but I am still rated as a beginner. Why? 

So many reasons. Many of them linked to choices I made. Not practicing enough because I didn’t know exactly WHAT to practice. Getting frustrated because I couldn’t do several key moves that most people master relatively early in their journey. Being loyal to studios and teachers that I had outgrown or who were simply not teaching in a way that worked for me. I can honestly say that I have regressed a lot in the last five years. Or at the least stayed stagnant. Two years ago I was safely cocooned in a studio that made me feel good about my body and taught me a lot about dance and flaunting myself. Sadly it closed and I was left at a loose end. I contemplated many things and wondered if this was time to kiss my pole goodbye. 

But I couldn’t kick the habit. I found a studio close to my house and I enrolled. I deliberately didn’t tell them my entire history. Every now and then they can see I have done something and I guess they know I am on a journey. I have deliberately started at the beginning so that I can get rid of some bad habits. It has been productive although sometimes a little frustrating. What is really refreshing is being supported but also given challenges. The difference between this studio and my previous studios is amazing. I love the structure and the way moves are broken down. I love the way success is celebrated. I also love that for the first time I am being forced to do drills and train muscles. Instead of being given vague instructions like “make sure your core is turned on” For the first time I actually know where my core is and how to turn it on properly. I can feel when I am using it. 

I don’t consider myself to be completely crazy about pole dance. For me it is more of a slow burn. I think if I had found this space when I started this journey I would be in a very different place right now. But that is OK. My journey is my journey. One of my greatest failings is that I constantly compare myself to others in many different ways and aspects of my life. As a teacher, as a mother, as a blogger, as a wife and as a pole dancer. As a pole dancer I have had to really change my mindset and stop comparing myself to other women around me. We are on a journey but it is OUR journey. It is OUR path that we follow. Some of us walk along a highway that leads us straight to excellence at high speed. Some, like me, get distracted by little side roads and twisting paths. Neither path is better than the other it is just our path. 

This lesson is something that can be transferred to other parts of my life. Teachers are encouraged to engage in “reflective practice” What this means is to reflect on lessons we deliver and assess how we could improve things. Especially when the shit hits the fan. Which happens, even to the best of us. This concept is great but it can be a slippery slope. It can easily go from objective thoughts to beating yourself up. Watching other teachers work is a great way to learn. But it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling inferior and as if you will never be good enough. The lesson I learned at my pole, that my journey is MINE, serves me well here. I am a good teacher. My students do appreciate me. I am valued. 

Likewise remembering that my journey is valid and not to be compared to others can be applied to my writing. I came back from our voyage thinking I would be all over this writing gig. Then I got put in Twitter jail and my traffic faltered. Getting back to mainstream life has taken a lot more adjustment than I expected. It would be easy to throw my hands in the air and give up because my blog isn’t as professional looking as others and I am not getting the feedback that I was. But again this is MY writing. My journey is not the same as everyone else’s. I am very unique and that is not a bad thing. 

So here I am on my journey. Not doing it the same as a lot of people. But it is mine and I have had a lot of experiences that others have not. So I am happy with my twisting, turning paths. They have led me to some very interesting people and some amazing memories.

Wicked Wednesday

TMI Tuesday –

1. With whom would you love to sing a duet?

I have some songs I love to sing in the car. In my mind I sound fucking awesome. In reality? Something else altogether. No artist springs to mind. If I was ever to perform with someone this is who I would love to “Make Some Noise” with

He does give lessons. Maybe I should sign up.

2. Have you ever cried over a pet? What kind?

I grew up on a farm. Getting sentimental over animals was strongly discouraged. The first pet I owned that I chose and purchased myself as an adult is buried in our garden. I think I may have shed a tear or two over her.

3. Do you think your personality needs polishing? Why?

Probably. I use the word fuck far too much and have a habit of taking off my clothes. Especially when I have had too much wine.

4. What is the worst injury you’ve ever had?

I broke my toe in August doing a simple every day thing on the yacht. It fucking hurt and my toe has still not gone back to it’s previous size, shape or colour.

5. If you had a clone, what part or your life or tasks would you have it do on your behalf?

Make dinner and clean the bathroom.

Bonus: Gifting supermarket flowers–good or bad?

The Unicorn says that she doesn’t understand the practice of cutting off plant genitalia and giving them to people. Personally I will take any flowers anyone gives me.

Or chocolate. Chocolate is always good.

TMI Tuesday blog